January is National Train Your Dog Month. Many people want a quick and easy answer on how to train your dog. Here are a few things to consider.
Getting a dog is a major commitment. If you have a dog, you should invest some time in training your dog. Training your dog will bond you with your dog, decrease the chance of behavior problems down the road and help make him part of the family. Training, just like many other things in life takes lots a practice. Practice makes perfect!
How to train your dog:
Start early! A puppy can start learning as early as 8 weeks of age. In fact, socialization to other people, dogs, and places is an important part of your puppies’ development. Puppy obedience classes help train your dog to feel safe with an introduction to different people and places. Dogs not socialized at the proper time will become fearful which can lead to unwanted behavior such as barking, growling and even biting.
Stay positive! The best way to train your dog is by positively reinforcing desired behaviors and ignoring unwanted behaviors. Food, petting, toys, and praise are all items that can be used for positive reinforcement. Find out what drives your dog and use it! I recommend using a Learn to Earn program where nothing in life is free. Using clickers or items like the treat and train can help speed the time it takes to train your dog.
Seek professional help! I highly recommend you take your dog to a certified obedience trainer, preferably in a class setting. It’s important to do your research, get references and make sure they use positive reinforcement instead of negative reinforcement when training. I prefer the class setting as this helps socialize your dog to other dogs and it also allows you to train your dog with distractions. Seeking professional help is so important. You may not be aware of what you are doing and inadvertently train your dog undesirable behaviors instead of desirable ones.