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Are you a new dog owner with absolutely no clue about how to start training your dog? Well, you’ve come to the right place.
We all want our dogs to be well-behaved canines. But to manage this, we have to make sure that we train them properly.
However, training a dog is no easy feat. It takes a lot of hard work, effort, and patience from both sides. But don’t worry as we at Feedfond are here to make your life that little bit easier.
We’ve put together all the basics you need to know about training your dog to make this new transition as easy for you and your furry friend as possible.
So go on, read on to learn the guidelines of how to train your dog…
Contents & Quick Navigation
- Potty Training your Dog
- Crate Training your Dog
- Leash Training your Dog
- Socializing your Dog
- Teaching your Dog the Basic Commands
- Proofing your Dog’s Behavior
- Correcting your Dog’s Behavior
- Advanced Training
- Final Thoughts
Potty Training your Dog
Potty training is the very first thing any dog owner should aim to check off their list.
If you’re planning on potty training a puppy, then you should wait until they are at least 12 weeks old. Before this age, puppies have no control over their bladder so all of your hard work would be fruitless.
The potty training process for adult dogs and puppies are the same, although adults can take a bit more work. Here are the basics:
#1. Choose a Potty Place
Designate a separate potty place in your house or in the backyard. Your dog needs to know that pottying should be done at a different place from where they play and sleep.
This place should be easily accessible for your dog. If it is outdoors, consider installing a doggy door so that your dog can reach it on their own.
If the potty area is indoors, this can be made using newspaper or a litter box. You could also just designate a separate space with piddle pads at the ready.
Just make sure it is far away from your dog’s crate and bed.
#2. Maintain a Schedule
You should create a set feeding schedule for your dog. Stick to these specific meal times, and never leave food out longer for than 15 minutes at a time.
You’ll also have to take your dog out to do their business yourself in the beginning. You can do this by observing your dog’s natural system. The most common signs that your dog needs to relieve themselves is the act of sniffing, circling and pacing.
We’d suggest setting alarms on your phone according to your dog’s potty times. This way you won’t forget to take your dog out when you need to – and you can avoid any unnecessary messes.
Puppies need to go to the bathroom more frequently than older dogs. So, you’ll have to take your puppy out to do their business at least every 30 minutes.
You should also be taking your puppy to their potty place after every meal and nap. Feed your dog dinner at least an hour before they go to bed and take them to the potty right after.
For adult dogs, the rest of the night shouldn’t be a problem. But for puppies, you’ll need to take them out again at least once during the night.
#3. Command and Encourage
Use a separate command like “go potty” to tell your dog to do their business whenever you take them out. Try to say it in an authoritative but non-threatening way.
Wait for your dog to finish doing their business. Once they’re done relieving themselves in the right place, give them lots of praise.
The first few times your dog potties in the right place, you can even use positive reinforcement by giving them treats.
#4. Trial and Re-train
After a month of training, your puppy should have become used to going to the potty area.
Now you can allow your puppy to go by themselves. Give your puppy reminders to relieve themselves, but you don’t have to wait around while they do so.
Give your puppy treats whenever they do their business in the right place. Initially, there might be a few accidents inside the house to prepare for this.
In those cases, you should start taking your dog out yourself again for a few days. If your dog has an accident, never scold or punish them. Be patient and keep teaching them what to do in a positive way.
Make sure to clean up any accidents very well. Why? Dogs potty where they have already soiled before. They can smell their own pee and will most likely do it in the same place.
#5. Addressing Underlying Problems
Sometimes dogs may not be able to control their bladder because of medical reasons. If after three to four months of training it still isn’t working, you might have to pay a visit to the vet.
Generally, dogs tend to pee anywhere and everywhere out of excitement or because they are feeling submissive.
To stop submissive peeing, you’ll have to build up your dog ’s confidence. You can do this by teaching them commands and tricks and giving them rewards and praises afterward. Don’t intimidate or dominate your dog.
To stop them from peeing when they get excited, playtime should be done outside or on a newspaper. Create a calming environment so your dog isn’t overly excited or anxious. Try not to greet your dog or over-excite them for a few days.
Crate Training your Dog
Crate training your dog is a great way to help them become more independent. You can leave your dog in a secure crate while you run short errands.
Crate training also helps a lot in the potty training process. These crates can even serve as transportable homes for your pet when traveling.
#1. Crate Size and Area
To start crate training your dog, you’ll first need to pick the right crate. The size of the crate will vary according to the size of your dog. Make sure it is big enough for them to move around in, but not too large.
Dogs don’t soil the area they sleep in. So if you have a crate that’s too large for your dog, they may start using one corner of it as a potty place.
Keep the crate in an area that’s not too noisy for your dog to sleep in, but close enough to the action so they don’t feel lonely.
#2. Introduction to the Crate
Make sure the crate is comfortable, with soft, washable bedding and blankets. Throw in a bunch of your dog’s favorite toys as well. This will give the crate a more homely feel for your dog.
You can keep a few treats inside the crate as well. This will make it easier to lure your dog inside. When they’re exploring, don’t intervene and let your dog have a sniff around the crate on their own.
When your dog is properly inside the crate, give them plenty of praise. However, don’t close the crate door completely – keep the door partially open and stay nearby.
You could even crawl inside the crate and sit with your dog for a while.
Once your dog is accustomed to the crate and they’re happy to sit inside voluntarily, you can shut the door.
Your dog might whine and bark at first, but you need to be strict. Talk to your dog in a soothing voice and distract it with the toys or treats inside.
Only open the crate door when your dog stops whining. Then, gradually increase the duration of crate time. Continue this every day until your dog is comfortable with being inside the crate for at least 30 minutes.
After they have achieved this, walk out of the room while your dog is in the crate so they can get used to your absence.
Soon your dog will be completely crate trained. This usually takes four to six months, but it may take a bit longer for more anxious dogs.
Keep in mind that puppies under eight weeks old shouldn’t be kept in a crate for longer than an hour.
Leash Training your Dog
Leash training is crucial to take your dog out on walks. It helps keep your dog from wandering away and misbehaving in public.
#1. Pick the Right Collar and Leash
First of all, you’ll need to pick the right collar and leash. When you put the collar on your dog, make sure that it isn’t too tight. You should be able to fit at least two fingers in the gap between the collar and your dog’s neck.
The leash shouldn’t be too flexible, or you won’t be able to control your dog. Keep it at a length that is easy for you to handle and guide your dog.
#2. What to Do
Put the collar on your dog and attach the leash. In a setting where there are no distractions, say “come” and pull the leash gently. Keep doing this every day until your dog learns to come to you when you say “come”. Always give them plenty of praise and a treat when they do this right.
Once your dog is used to the collar and the leash, take them out on a walk. Hold up a treat on your right-hand side and move a few steps forward while saying “come”.
Soon, your dog will be walking with you at your pace. However, sometimes dogs might try and pull or tug you in another direction. When they do this, stop abruptly or change direction.
This will let your dog know that you are the one in control.
Socializing your Dog
A puppy’s prime socialization period is when they are between four and 12 weeks of age. During this time your dog will be able to adjust to new situations. When they are an adult, socialization may be harder, but not impossible.
#1. The First Steps
Before starting the socialization process, make sure your dog has been vaccinated and leash trained first.
Take your dog out on regular walks so that they get used to different noises, different people and other dogs on the street.
Always carry treats and a chewable toy with you while traveling with your dog. These will come in handy if you need to distract your dog for any reason.
#2. Socializing With Other Dogs
The best way to get your dog used to other dogs, it to take them to a dog park.
When you go for the first time, take your dog to the park, but don’t go inside. Stand near the fence and let your dog interact with the others from a safe distance.
Whenever another dog comes towards the fence, give a treat to your dog. This will make your dog think of it as something positive.
If your dog reacts badly, walk away with your dog until they calm down. You could also arrange play dates with other dogs, or walks with other dog owners.
When walking two dogs together, start off separately. Make sure they are at least 10 feet apart. Talk to the other dog walker in a friendly manner, because your dog will pick up on your behavior.
With time and daily socialization, your dog will get used to the presence of other dogs.
Teaching your Dog the Basic Commands
For any dog to be well trained, they have to know basic commands. Here are some guidelines for teaching your dog the five main commands:
#1. ‘Sit’ Command
- Start off by holding a treat near your dog’s nose
- Move the treat around their head with your hand so that your dog follows it
- Keep moving the treat around until your dog lowers their bottom to get the treat
- This is called the ‘sitting position’. Once your dog is sitting, command it to ‘sit’ and give them the treat, while praising your dog.
- Repeat this training daily until your dog is accustomed to the command.
- Tell your dog to ‘sit’ at random times and only give them a treat when they follow the command.
#2. ‘Come’ Command
- First, you’ll need to put a collar and leash on your dog.
- Pull at the leash gently and say ‘come’.
- Once your dog moves towards you, give them a treat and plenty of praise
- Do this daily until your dog learns the command.
- Afterward, practice the command randomly without a leash and reward them when they get it right.
#3. ‘Down’ Command
- Hold a tasty treat inside your closed fist, in front of your dog. Move your hand with the treat towards your dog’s nose and let them sniff it.
- Once your dog sniffs the treat, move your hand towards the ground.
- Move your hand from the ground to your dog’s face again. Once your dog tries to get at it, move your hand to the ground again. This will encourage your dog to follow your hand.
- Soon your dog will try to get the treat, and in the process, their body will move down.
- At this position, say ‘down’ and then give your dog the treat and praise them.
- Keep doing this daily. Your dog might not follow the command and try to sit up and get to your hand. In that case, just say ‘no’ and move your hand away.
#4. ‘Stay’ Command
- Command your dog to ‘sit’.
- Once your dog sits, show the palm of your hand and say ‘stay’.
- Move away and if your dog is still sitting in the same position, give them a treat and praise them.
- Practice this every day and keep increasing the distance you move away before giving your dog the treat.
#5. ‘Leave it’ Command
- Keep two treats enclosed in each of your hands.
- Show your dog one of the treats and say ‘leave it’.
- Allow your dog to sniff and attempt to get the treat. No matter how much it paws and barks, ignore your dog’s behavior.
- As soon as your dog stops after seeing that you haven’t reacted, give them the treat from the hand you didn’t show your dog.
- Keep practicing this every day until your dog completely moves away from your hand when you say “leave it”.
- After your dog masters this, start giving them the treat only when your dog moves away and looks at you as well.
Proofing your Dog’s Behavior
Proofing your dog’s behavior basically means to practice their behavioral skills in different situations. This is usually the last step in the training process.
Proofing is important to ensure that your dog follows instructions in all environmental settings. This is done by introducing new forms of distractions and trying out different backgrounds.
It’s best to use the highest value treats that your dog loves for these exercises. Proofing should also be done by changing the instructors. Or else, your dog might only listen to you but not your partner.
We’re going to use the example of proofing with the ‘sit’ command.
First, you’ll need to make sure your dog has mastered the ‘sit’ command in a distraction-free zone.
Then, start adding distractions. You could ask someone to walk in the background or turn on the TV while commanding your dog to sit. Gradually add more distractions.
Once your dog gets used to the distractions, change the practice room. Try out the command on the road, in the garden, in your bedroom or wherever else you want.
Stay patient and persistent and try to keep the lessons short, around 10 minutes long. Motivate your dog to learn and keep repeating the lesson to get the best results.
Correcting your Dog’s Behavior
Sometimes dogs can have bad habits like biting, barking and chewing. In order to tackle some of these problems, here’s what you need to do:
#1. Stop your Puppy from Biting
If you have a puppy that keeps biting you, don’t move away. As soon as its teeth reach your skin, make your arm go limp. Then make a yelping sound or say “ow!” and ignore your puppy for at least 20 seconds.
If your puppy still continues to bite, do this again twice. But if your puppy does it again a third time within 15 consecutive minutes, you should give your puppy some alone time.
Simply ignore your puppy and walk out of the room. After 30 to 60 seconds, come back and continue doing your usual task.
You could also distract your puppy with a treat or a chewable toy whenever they try to bite you.
#2. Stop your Dog from Barking
To stop your dog from barking excessively, you’ll need to teach your dog to bark on command first.
Say “speak” and wait for your dog to bark. Immediately bring a treat to your dog’s nose. When your dog stops barking to sniff the treat, feed them the treat.
Soon your dog will be able to bark as soon as you say “speak”. Once it has mastered that, start teaching your dog the “quiet” command. Use the “speak” command to get your dog to bark, and then say “quiet”. When your dog stops barking give them the treat.
Once your dog understands these two commands, you can train them further. Using the “quiet” command, you can get your dog to stop barking at the doorbell.
#3. Stop your Dog from Chewing
Whenever you find your dog chewing something, make an extremely loud noise, like a clap. You could even say “stop!”.
Immediately give your dog something more appealing to chew on like a treat or a toy.
As soon your dog leaves the object and chews on the distraction, praise them well.
It also can’t hurt to puppy-proof your entire house. Make sure that you keep anything valuable out of your dog’s reach.
There are also some bitter tasting sprays you could put on objects like wires to discourage chewing. This will give your dog an unpleasant taste whenever they try to chew on them.
Important Read: Best Chew Proof Dog Beds- A Complete Buying Guide
Once your dog has mastered all the basics, you can move onto more advanced forms of training. This can be agility training, occupational training or even some really cool tricks. Here are three tricks you can start off with:
- First get your dog to sit.
- Hold up a treat six inches from your dog’s nose.
- Say the word “stand” and move away from the treat.
- To get the treat, your dog will stand.
- As soon as they do this, say “yes!” and give your dog the treat.
- Hold a treat and rub it on your hand to transfer the scent.
- Open your hand and keep it in front of your dog’s nose, while saying the word “touch”.
- Your dog will be attracted to the scent and try to sniff it. In the process, their nose will make contact with your palm.
- When your dog does this, say “yes!” and give them the treat.
#3. Going Out
Wouldn’t it be great if your dog could give you a heads up before going outside? Well, we have good news! You can train your dog to do that!
First of all, hang a bell or a noisy object on the door that your dog can reach.
Be sure to make noise or ring the bell whenever you take your dog out to go potty.
Your dog will end up getting curious. They might paw at it or even just sniff it. When they make any contact at all, say “yes!” and give your dog a treat. Then, take your dog outside to the designated potty area.
Soon your dog will understand that whenever they want to potty, they should ring the bell.
Teaching dogs new tricks and commands actually motivate them and keep them entertained. Not only that, but training allows us to communicate better with our dogs. It also strengthens the pet-owner bond on a whole new level.
Now that you’ve read this article, you’re equipped with all the knowledge you need to start training your dog. Just remember to be patient, persistent and prepared to repeat the process where necessary.
Introduce each command one by one. Don’t jump from trick to trick. Instead, concentrate on teaching one trick to your dog properly.
So go on and use your newfound knowledge. We’re sure your dog will be well-behaved in no time!
Read More About Dogs:
- 8 Helpful Tips for Keeping Your Dog At a Kennel
- The Ultimate Guide to Keeping Your Dog Away From Trash
- Best Dog Food: Complete Guide to What is Right for Your Dog
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