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It is always fascinating to take a dog or a puppy home and the first we do is try to teach it how to play catch, but what do you do when your dog can’t catch?
However, this excitement may be short-lived if you don’t train your dog.
An untrained dog can become a source of constant headache to the owner.
Even worse, an untrained dog can become destructive and disobedient since it does not know how to behave.
On the flipside, trained dogs are happier, healthier, and well behaved.
You can effectively avoid all these issues by taking your dog through proper training and socialization.
Table of Contents
The Definitive Guide To Training Your Dog
In this article, I will take you through various techniques of training and what to do when your dog can’t catch.
Requirements For Dog Training
Before you start your dog training, you need to put in place three crucial things:
Although dog training doesn’t require much equipment, it’s critical to have a few supplies:
- Ensure you have a dog collar or harness that comfortably fits your dog
- Choose the appropriate dog leash for your dog
- Avoid a retractable dog leash
- Get dog training treats that your dog enjoys most, and that is easy to eat
Decide On The Method To Use
There are plenty of techniques out there in training booklets and websites on obedience training for dogs.
Many dog trainers agree that positive training, such as praise and treats, is one of the best dog training techniques.
You can also opt for the clicker training technique, which involves the use of a conditioned reinforcer.
However, go for a training method that best suits you and your dog.
Set Up Training Sessions
To be effective, carry out your dog training in small short steps.
Each day, a 10-15 minutes training session is sufficient since dogs, especially puppies, have a very short concentration span.
A long training session will make your dog bored.
Ensure that you also stick to one action during each training session to avoid confusing your dog.
Training Your Dog Using Games
Training your dog shouldn’t be boring!
Incorporating games in your dog’s training regime makes it easier for them to learn.
Though serious training is essential, playtime is also equally important.
Dogs love fun!
Playtime mentally stimulates your dog and allows them to exercise.
It is also a perfect time to bond with your dog.
Having fun with your dog prevents boredom and its consequent behavioral problems.
Playtime games can either be indoors or outdoors.
There are also a variety of activities that your kids and dogs can do together.
Such games help teach your dog how to play.
However, your dog needs to learn some basic commands before playing.
Below are six fun games to keep your dog entertained and busy every day.
Fetch is a popular game that many dogs do naturally.
It is also simple to teach your dog.
The best thing about this game is that you can play it anywhere.
You can play it outdoors in a fenced compound with a ball/ disc or indoors with a soft toy.
2. Interactive Treat Games
You can get a variety of interactive dog toys in pet shops.
They include dog puzzles, of varying difficulty, and dog-treat dispensers.
You can also make yours at home by cutting holes on a plastic container or water bottle.
Fill the toy with smelly, yummy treats, and let your dog figure out how to remove it.
This game enhances your dog’s hunting instincts by engaging their brain and sense of smell.
3. Tug Of War
Many dogs enjoy this game.
It gives them a chance to sharpen their natural predatory skills and showcase their energy.
To play, find a good tug toy and tug away.
Give your dog many chances to win, as this will boost their confidence.
4. Find The Treat Or Toy
Dogs have an excellent sense of smell and mostly use their noses to find things.
Allow your dog to exercise her nose or brain to find a hidden thing.
First, put your dog in another room and ensure she does not see you.
Hide her favorite treat in different places in the room.
Then, bring your dog back and tell her to find the treat.
You can point to her the areas she needs to explore.
5. Hide And Seek
To play this game, you first need to tell your dog to stay.
Take one of your dog’s favorite treats or toys and hide somewhere.
Then, call your dog to come to you.
Shake the treat or squeak the toy to entice your dog to find you.
Once your dog finds you, praise them, and give them the treat or toy you are holding.
6. Dog Sports
Is your dog always full of energy and causing trouble?
A hobby is a sure way to keep them busy.
Sometimes routine games and exercise may not be enough.
Dog sports are the ultimate way to keep your dog engaged and playing regularly.
There are a variety of dog sports, and so you need to evaluate each to see which one suits your dog.
Every time you are playing, always watch your dog for signs of overheating or exhaustion.
If your dog seems tired, agitated, frustrated, or anxious, stop the game.
When playing with your dog, the surrounding is very crucial.
The presence of other dogs or people may distract your dog, especially if she is off-leash.
Always stay safe, even as you have fun!
Training Your Dog Using Positive Reinforcement
Positive reinforcement training involves rewarding those behaviors that you like and ignoring those that you don’t.
There are several ways of doing this, such as using praises, treats, or life rewards.
The following are some of the benefits of using positive reinforcement effectively.
It Gets Family Member Involved
This dog training method allows you to involve every member of your family.
The method doesn’t involve the use of strength or even speaking in a loud voice.
Also, positive reinforcement doesn’t endanger any member of the family; thus, you can also involve your children.
You can involve your children by giving them some dog treats and letting them know what commands to use.
With your close supervision, your children can train the dog as effectively as you do it yourself.
It Establishes Communication
With positive reinforcement, you can develop a language of communicating with your dog.
The best way to achieve this is by offering rewards to your dog whenever it does the desired action.
If you repeatedly reward for a particular action, there is a high likelihood that the dog will repeat it.
In most cases, the conventional method of using punishment only serves to instill fear on your dog.
If you resort to using punishment, your dog may do the undesired action in your absence.
On the contrary, positive reinforcement helps the dog learn that good things happen when it does a particular action.
For example, maybe you want to teach your dog always to relieve itself in a particular place, not just anywhere.
To achieve this, you can reward yourself every time the dog relieves itself in the designated place.
You can also give it lots of praise and treats or even allow it some playtime.
If you do this consistently, the dog will learn that something good happens when it relieves itself in that place.
A dog always loves to please.
As such, it will be relieving itself in that place to get rewards and treat.
By so doing, you have established a form of communication with your dog.
It Provides a Mental Stimulation
Several of the common behavior problems in dogs are a result of boredom.
Some of such behaviors include digging and excessive chewing.
Dog training helps greatly in keeping away boredom.
It helps your dog to burn some of its energy during the short sessions of each day.
It’s a Source Of Fun
Positive reinforcement can be a source of fun for you and your dog.
To achieve this, you should keep them short and upbeat.
If your dog realizes that training sessions lead to something good, they start to see it as playtime.
In return, your dog will start to offer you good behavior in anticipation of rewards.
It Strengthens Your Bond
To many people, dogs are not just pets but also friends, companions, and part of the family.
The rewards involved in positive reinforcement helps to strengthen this bond between you and your dog.
Unlike other training methods, this method also helps you to earn the trust of your dog.
Juxtapose this with a situation where you work for two different bosses.
One boss pushes you to do your task, whereas the other offers you a positive environment, praises, and parks.
You will most likely be happy to work for the second boss who offers you rewards.
The same happens with your dog; it will enjoy your companionship more if you speak to it nicely.
Problems And Proofing Behavior
Positive reinforcement requires patience and consistency.
At times, your dog will disobey your command and you may be tempted to vent your anger.
Always keep in mind that dogs are keener to body language than to words.
A dog will remember your body language more than it will remember your words.
When training your dog, learn to remain positive and remember that the dog is doing its best.
You can take a deep breath when disappointed, pause, and start again on a happier note.
Always vary the rewards you offer your dog, and ensure they are what it likes.
If you are teaching a new command, consider offering an irresistible reward meant for training only.
As you progress with the training and your dog gets used, you can revert to the regular treats.
If you learn to offer more praises, they will soon be all that your dog needs.
House Training And Crate Training
It is not a good idea to keep your dog outdoors.
Consequently, you must offer your dog house training or potty training.
This training helps your dog know where to eliminate, and it is among the first trainings you should offer.
In crate training, you use a crate to confine your dog, especially if you can’t supervise it.
Most dogs don’t urinate where they sleep, so they tend to hold the urge when confined in a crate.
Here is how to go about this training:
- Start by choosing a crate
Crates come in different types such as plastic pet carriers, a wire cage, and a soft-sided canvas or nylon crate.
Of all these, the most common is the wire cage crate.
Inside this crate, your dog can see what is happening around it.
It also comes with an additional panel that makes it possible to resize it according to your dog’s size.
A metal cage is also collapsible and has a sliding tray for easy cleaning.
On the other hand, a plastic crate is mostly applicable during airline travel.
The drawback of a plastic crate is that it has three enclosed sides.
Moreover, it does not allow a lot of light and is quite difficult to clean.
The soft-sided crates are suitable for carrying around when traveling with your dog since they are lightweight.
The only major drawback is that if your dog loves to chew or to scratch, it may break out.
They are also not suitable for young puppies.
When choosing a crate, remember that size is critical.
Your crate should offer your dog ample space to sleep comfortably.
On the other hand, if it’s too large, your dog may use some areas to eliminate it.
The advantage of using caged wire crates is that they come with a divider.
The divider makes it possible to confine your puppy in one area and enlarge it as it grows.
- Introduce the crate
The introduction of your puppy or adult dog to your crate should be gradual.
At the bottom of the crate, you can have something soft plus your dog’s toys.
Also, do not forget to put some treats inside the crate.
To achieve the most in his training, allow your dog to explore the crate without forcing it.
Ensure you keep crate training as positive as possible by praising and treating your dog as it goes inside.
In the beginning, keep the door of the crate open for the dog to move in and out as it pleases.
Keep the crate open until the dog seems comfortable with it.
- Confine your dog to the crate
By nature, dogs are den animals and they love to stay in a safe and secure place.
If you do the crate training appropriately, the crate will become a haven for your dog.
Moreover, it will also give you peace of mind when you are away from home.
With proper training, some dogs keep seeking the crate long after the training.
Here is how to confine your dog to the crate.
When your dog gets comfortable with the crate, you can start confining it.
Put some treats inside the crate for the dog to get inside then close the door when it gets inside.
Wait for one or two minutes, and if your dog is quiet, let it out.
Keep extending the time your dog remains in the crate when at home until it’s comfortable with one-hour confinement.
After it gets used to being confined, train it to be alone confined by briefly stepping out of the house and coming back.
Keep extending the time you leave it alone confined until it’s comfortable with an hour or more.
- Problems and proofing behavior
Avoid using the crate as a form of punishment for your dog.
Ensure that the dog sees the crate as a happy, comfortable, and safe place to rest even when alone.
Using the crate as a form of punishment instills fear in your dog, and it may not feel secure when left alone.
Importantly, always let your dog out of the crate when it’s calm and relaxed.
Letting the dog out of the crate while it is barking trains it that you can let it out if it whines or barks.
Such a mistake can cost you many sleepless nights before your dog gets used to the crate.
Moreover, don’t let your dog stay so long in the crate until it can longer hold its bladder.
For puppies, do not confine them for more than three or four hours.
For adult dogs that are not used to confinement, crate them also for not more than three or four hours.
Adult dogs that are accustomed to confinement can hold their bowels for a much more extended period.
After letting your dog out of the crate, take it out for exercise or playtime.
Leash Training Puppies And Dogs
Most residential areas have leash laws.
However, it would be best if you did it positively until they get used to this object.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to train your puppy or dog to be comfortable on a leash.
- Start in an enclosed area
Your dog needs time to get used to its leash.
You can do it indoors or in a fenced compound.
First, let the dog smell the leash before clipping it on her collar.
Let the dog walk around with the leash dragging behind her until she is familiar with it.
- Don’t allow chewing
At the start, many dogs perceive leashes as other toys.
Don’t allow your dog to form a habit of chewing the leash.
You can use her favorite toys to distract her.
If this method fails, put some aversive on the leash.
- Pick up the leach
Once your dog is comfortable having the leash on, you can now hold it.
Try calling the dog to you and give her some treat as you hold the leash.
If the dog is still struggling to get rid of the leash, let it go and try again later.
- Never do leash corrections
Have in mind that these exercises aim at making your puppy/ dog comfortable with the leash.
Therefore, you should never correct your dog’s behavior by pulling on the leash.
If the dog is pulling on the leash, drop it, or try distracting the dog using treats or toys.
- Regular practice
A leash is a critical part of your dog’s life.
Therefore, your dog should learn to walk on it and become comfortable as soon as possible.
For quick results, regular practice is necessary.
You can aim to do it every day, about 10 minutes at a time.
- Practice loose leash walking
Once your dog is comfortable walking as you hold its leash, it is time to train her on loose leash walking.
Loose leash walking is walking with your dog side by side, and she is not pulling on the leash during your walk.
Always assess your dog’s comfort levels and see if it allows or not.
- Proofing behavior
Before introducing the leash, you need to make sure that your dog is comfortable with her collar.
When introducing the collar to her, the same rules as those of a leash apply.
Never allow your puppy or dog to make her collar a chew toy.
Distract her or correct her with a “no”.
During your training or whenever you’re around your dog, always maintain a positive attitude.
The secret behind this is to make your dog excited whenever they see the leash.
With time, they will start associating the leash with fun walks, adventures, or car rides.
However, it would be best if you introduced this happy connection early enough.
It is crucial to offer your dog a solid foundation in training and knowing what to do and how to act when your dog can’t catch.
If you train your dog well, it will give you peace of mind; it will be easier to manage and fun to be with.
Training your dog also helps to improve its relationship with you.
Remember, you can always do this on your own from the comfort of your home.
If you do not know how to do it, you can enroll in in-person obedience classes.
Alternatively, you can hire a professional dog trainer to train it for you at a cost.
Now, go ahead and offer your dog the best training!