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Dogs - Training

Training your dog is very important, especially in the early stages of ownership. Dog training refers to the process of teaching specific skills to a dog, which can include teaching the dog to respond to certain commands, doing tricks, or modifying certain behaviors. The more time you spend training your dog, the better a housemate it will be. Training your dog will take a lot of patience, but in the long run it is well worth it. Dogs are very receptive and eager to please, so knowing how to properly train your dog is very important.

The most important aspect of any kind of training with your dog is consistency and communication. The handler must properly communicate what behaviors are correct or preferred in various circumstances. The handler also must communicate with the dog what behaviors are incorrect and undesirable. The handler must be able to receive and understand communication from the dog as well. The dog can communicate many different things with its handler including confusion, nervousness, excitement and more. The dog’s emotional state is very important when it comes to training, because a stressed dog will not be in a good mental state to learn.

Different Types of Dog Training

There are many different kinds of dog training out there, including non-associative learning, operant conditioning, and classical conditioning. Keep in mind that certain breeds of dogs are better suited to a specific kind of training, so research what kind of training is best suited to your dog’s breed before starting. Dogs can be trained for a variety of different specialized areas including; search and rescue, disability assistance, hunting, law enforcement, guard duty, and much more.

According to the Learning Theory there are four important messages that the handler can send the dog, regardless of what kind of training model they have decided on. The first message is the Reward Marker- this signifies to the dog that the correct behavior will earn a reward. The second message is the Keep Going Signal – this signifies to the dog that it is performing the correct behavior and that if it continues it will earn a reward. The third is the No Reward Marker which signifies incorrect behavior and that the dog will not be rewarded. The last is the Punishment Marker, which signifies incorrect behavior and the dog earns punishment. In order to be successful in training your dog, you must make sure that you are consistent. Signals or key words should stay the same so that the dog can learn quicker thus making training much easier. The major way to teach the dog these signals is through repetition. This forms an association by classic conditioning so that the dog associates good behavior with rewards and bad behavior with punishment. The most common rewards for correct behavior are treats, praise or play. The most common punishments are a time out or a lack of reward. Tone is also very important in signifying that you are accepting of your dog’s behavior or if you want it to be modified. Dogs are very attuned to people’s voices and body language, so these are effective communicators that you should use consistently in order to train.

Basic Training

There are a variety of different types of training and training levels that your dog can do.  The most common kind is basic training. Basic training classes focus on the core commands and behaviors that your pet will need to be safe, obedient, and gentle to be around. Basic training includes commands to sit, stay, come here, heel, stop biting and the all-important toilet training. If done correctly, the dog is usually rewarded with praise or treats, and if done incorrectly no reward is given. Basic training should begin as soon as you have your dog so that it learns to respect you and modifies it behavior to become a safe and gentle pet.

Advanced Training

There are more advanced training classes for dogs who have passed basic training. These dogs have a more established rapport with their owners and know the basic commands. These dogs are learning in more distracting areas and may be taught agility training or more difficult tricks. Some of the most common tricks include shake paw, play dead, speak, and beg.

House Training

House training is also very important and should begin as soon you get your dog to limit indoor accidents. If accidents do occur, make sure that you clean the area immediately so that the smell does not set in. If it does set in the dog might associate that area with the bathroom and go there repeatedly. Once your dog is house trained it will let you know when he needs to go to the washroom. It is also good to keep a routine so that your dog knows when it will be allowed to go outdoors to the bathroom, whether it is before or after meals or when you get home from work.

Training Tools

Positive Reinforcement is a practice of operant conditioning that rewards the dog when they respond correctly to the handler’s commands. Rewards are often verbal praise, play, and treats which can all contribute to lasting changed behavior. Overall this is a respected type of training, but some criticisms include that it promotes begging, obesity, and additional costs to the owner.

It is essential to consider the natural behaviors of certain breeds when it comes to training. Some breeds are better at certain skills than other dogs, for example a Labrador Retriever will be good at fetch because it has been bred to retrieve game. There are a variety of training tools that can also assist with training. The most common training tools include rewards for good behaviors like treats and play.

 

Dog training is very important in order to have a safe and gentle dog. Although training can seem like a long road, it is worth all of the time and effort because you will have a dog you can trust around kids, strangers, and other pets.