Setting rules and teaching your puppy to behave doesn't mean limiting your pet and taking away their happiness. It's actually quite the opposite. Dogs love routine. They can feel safer and happier with boundaries. Obedience training teaches dogs how to behave and what not to do (e.g., eating a cigarette butt or running away deep into the forest).
Not only do you prevent your puppy from running into danger, but you also don't have to worry about your canine attacking people and other dogs around. One such cue that can prevent your pup from getting injured is recall training. You can stop your dog from playing aggressively with other pets (and eventually getting bitten). What's more, you can pull them out of a dangerous situation when, for example, a bigger canine decides to attack your pup.
This and more dog training basics will be discussed in this article. Keep reading to keep your dog safe and sound.
Dog Training Classes vs. Home Training Sessions
Every owner has a special bond with their puppy. Your furry friend becomes a family member as soon as they are brought home. What new pet parents aren't aware of is that most dogs grow up unruly and do as they feel, whether you protest against their actions or not. An adult dog may be a tough cookie to crack when it comes to obedience training. Therefore, starting young is advised.
Dog obedience training can take place both at home and in group classes. Group classes teach your dog to focus when distracted, while the home environment is a safe place for your pet to connect with you and focus on what's important for both of you.
We recommend group classes with a dog training instructor if you keep failing to control your pup. As we are also aware, not every pet parent has an opportunity to attend such obedience training sessions. This article will guide you through the process of basic obedience training at home.
Must-Have Home Dog Training Equipment
We have selected three dog training pieces of equipment for dog training at home. We're also confident you already have them, so this is more of a reminder of what to have at hand when starting a training session. Here is what you will need:
- Dog collar – A dog collar might have been the first thing on your shopping list to purchase before bringing the puppy home. But why do you really need it? Well, first of all, you can attach your dog's ID tag with your contact details for the unfortunate event of losing your pup. Secondly, you can always grip the collar to prevent them from attacking other animals on its way.
- Leash – A long and firm leash is another must-have piece of equipment for both training and outdoor activities. Attach the leash to the collar and let your four-footer run around but at a safe distance and under your control.
- Treats – To make training sessions successful, you need a bag of treats for positive reinforcement. Treats are perfect rewards your dog can get for each accomplished command and good behavior.
As you can see, to start the dog training process at home, you only need basic equipment, but also lots of praise and patience. Let's move ahead to basic commands you can teach your dog.
Dog Obedience Training at Home
There are a few advantages of teaching your dog basic commands at home. One of the main ones is that dogs learn faster in familiar environments, stress- and distraction-free. So, basic training shouldn't take much effort for a well-behaved dog.
Potty training must be the first thing you teach your new puppy. The younger they are, the more often they tend to relieve themselves. The important thing here is to never punish your dog for causing you trouble. Punishment or an aggressive reaction will only scare your dog and make the learning process more traumatic.
When training your dog, use a calm voice; this method is more effective than yelling.
During the first days, you should create a safe place for dogs where such minor accidents may happen. We recommend using a crate. Add soft bedding and potty pads into the crate. Throw in some toys and place a bowl of water nearby.
Place the crate in a spot that will be easy to clean. It's best not to keep your young puppy inside the crate for more than 3 hours, especially when there is no space to move around. Remember to clean the crate frequently.
Whenever you catch your puppy in the act, you should quickly interrupt it. Gently say “no” and take the canine to the crate or another safe place you've created (or outside). It may take a few minutes for your pet to continue its business, so remain patient and remember to celebrate with your furry friend afterward.
Anybody can interpret a dog's body language when it comes to staying in the crate. It’s not the easiest thing to ask your dog to do. However, you may need to train your dog to stay in the crate if the pet lives with you at home. The key to successfully training your dog is to combine the bad elements with some good things your pet will enjoy. The good, in this case, can be food, snacks, treats, etc., while the bad is the crate itself.
The training methods that are based on positive reinforcement and association work great with dogs.
Here is what you need to do:
- Place a treat or something that your puppy loves in the crate. Let your dog enter the crate.
- Close the door for just a short moment and open it.
- Repeat the process about five times.
This process will give your puppy some time to get used to the closed space. Next, you should increase the time in the crate gradually in a way that doesn't stress out your canine.
Any professional trainer wouldn't recommend:
- Leaving your dog in the crate for more than three hours at a time.
- Always keep some tasty and nutritious treats in the crate.
- Have a play session with your dog before putting him in the crate.
Five Commands: Sit, Stay, and Come
Shaping dog behavior requires time, reinforcement, and repetition. With these five basic commands, you will instantly get your dog's attention. Here are some quick tips and tricks on how to train your dog properly:
The sitting position is one of the simplest ones to learn for your dog. There are three steps to follow:
- Sit command – Get a treat for your dog and call it to approach you closely. Hold a treat between your fingers and move it close to the dog's muzzle. Don't let go of the treat just yet! To make your dog sit, you should slowly shift your hand up. As soon as your pet lowers its butt on the ground, praise them.
- Hand command – Once your dog learns to sit when you give them a treat, it is time for the next step – following the hand gesture. This time, you should manage without a treat in the beginning. All you need to do is to hold an empty palm in front of your dog's muzzle and move your hand upwards slowly. As soon as your puppy lowers their butt, give a well-deserved treat.
- Verbal command – The final step is to get your dog to sit down hands-free. Basically, you should say, “sit,” and immediately move your hand upward. If the dog sits, give them a treat. However, if your pup needs a bit more training, repeat the previous step.
The ‘Sit' command comprises three separate, sequenced commands that teach your dog how to react to your command. Make sure to repeat each part a few times until your dog understands it.
One of the commands that you should teach your dog is stay. This command is especially helpful if your dog likes to roam around the streets and may even start chasing birds. The cue ensures safety for your pet and peace of mind for you as an owner.
Like the previous command, this one is divided into a few steps. Make sure you repeat each step and keep it simple for your puppy.
Here is how to teach it:
- Put your hand palm down in front of your dog and say, “stay.” Hold still for a few seconds and give your pet a reward.
- Now, you should try to distance yourself from the dog. Take one step back before giving a voice command and holding the hand. If your dog doesn't understand, then repeat the first step, but this time, move back just a bit after the command. Don't forget about a treat!
- Your next step is to prolong the duration of the command while going back one or two steps. Simply repeat the previous step but hold still for a bit longer.
- Don't expect your dog to stay still for minutes, as it is simply too hard for them. Instead, you can increase the duration by just a few more seconds. Remember, teaching your dog takes time and a big bag of delicacies.
It may be the case that you have already taught your dog this command, but if you haven't yet, here is what you need to do:
- Start indoors and at a short distance. When calling your dog to come, make sure to keep eye contact. If your dog reacts to their name, it should be mentioned, too. To motivate your dog to stand up from the couch, clap your hands or pat your legs.
- Don't forget to have a supply of treats because your dog will surely need those.
- Increase the distance and go to another room where your puppy can't see you but only hear. If your canine doesn't even move, then come closer to a spot where they can see you.
- Keep repeating the command a few times at various distances to ensure your dog learns it properly.
- Next, you can practice the same voice command outdoors.
The recall command should be one of the first ones you teach your dog. When walking outdoors without a leash, you'll be confident that your four-footer will run towards you whenever you call them.
Wrapping Up: Dog Training at Home
On the final note, basic training is quite important to not only keep your dog safe, but also disciplined. Establishing a routine for when to go potty and have a meal also improves your puppy's behavior. You will have peace of mind when walking your furry friend, knowing that they won't run away or attack other animals.
Since you will be feeding your canine a lot during the training, you might want to purchase some quality treats for your pet friend. We recommend you look at our in-depth breed-specific food guides and opt for vitamin-rich and quality snacks.
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