You can run into all kinds of trouble when training your dog, if you don't follow proper technique. It's easy to confuse your dog, frustrate yourself and foster bad habits as you're working on helping your dog reach its better potential.
Whether it's a full-grown dog or just a puppy, a few basic rules can help make all the difference in your training efforts. A simple Dos & Don'ts list breaks it down below:
DON'T use force
Do you want to create a fearful, defensive dog? If not, you should avoid forcing your dog to do anything, whether by tugging the leash or other acts of aggression. You will have an extremely reluctant canine on your hands if you don't exert patience and calm.
DO take your dog on frequent walks
Regular exercise is critical for the health and proper growth of your dog. Depending on the breed, your dog may need to exert a great deal of energy throughout the day. Learn your dog's needs!
DON'T chase your dog
You want him to come to you, not the other way around. If your pursuit is interpreted as a game, your dog will always be trying to begin a chase game with you. Hold your ground, and use withheld attention as a means of showing your lack of interest in the chase.
DO teach your dog to walk calmly on a leash
When your dog pulls on its leash, you're in a battle against impulse control. If your dog associates walking by your side with potential reward, it's much more likely to keep your pace on walks without tugging or running ahead.
DON'T bribe your dog
What's the incentive to perform, if the reward is given ahead of time? If you bribe your dog with treats or food before they've obeyed your command, you'll have very little chance of convincing your dog to do anything at all.
DO reward your dog for coming when called
Make sure your dog always associates your call with positivity. When you call your dog to you, give it praise or even a small treat, to encourage repeated good behavior.
DON'T reward before earning
Make sure your dog associates treats with actions following your command. Wait until your dog has completed the task you're requesting before offering the reward. This will also inspire patience in your pup.
DON'T be inconsistent
Consistency is key, especially when it comes to puppy training. Keep the instructions simple, and make sure your dog is familiar with your commands. Giving your dog a "day off" from obedience is likely to result in behavioral setbacks.
DO choose the right products for your dog
Not all dog food is created equal, and your breed may have unique dietary needs. Additionally, if your pup has an accident in the house, you want to take care of it without harmful chemicals. Use Simple Green Bio Dog to safely eliminate stains & odors, with an orally non-toxic formula that won't harm your dog. Likewise, if your pooch does its business outside, Simple Green Outdoor Odor Eliminator is great for eliminating odors at the source without hurting your pets, lawn or landscaping.
DON'T encourage playful biting
Bad habits are often formed through playful fun that goes too far. Dogs often explore with their mouths - especially puppies! If you don't want your dog biting people, or chewing shoes and furniture, never incorporate these elements during playtime. Immediately stop activities where your dog is biting, and encourage alternative methods of play or interaction.
DO make sure your dog has enough stimulation
Dogs (and especially puppies) are attention-seekers, and will resort to destructive chewing, digging, barking and beyond if they are bored too often from a lack of engagement. Bad habits like these could be the result of a lack of exercise and play that your dog needs to stay active and healthy.
DO enjoy yourself
If you have fun, your pooch will associate its training with companionship. This will make the entire training process easier for both of you.
DON'T get angry
If you intimidate and scare your dog, it's not going to trust you. Your interactions and your relationship will become one of tense interaction if you don't train your dog with positive encouragement, reinforcement and praise. Never yell at or hit your dog; you want to inspire loyalty, not fear.
DON'T give up
It's easy to get discouraged when a dog is easily distracted or reluctant to learn a new command. But giving up on the training process will only reinforce the dog's unchecked behavior, and it will learn that acting up could result in an easy way out of the learning process.