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Training A Dog

Training a dog can be enjoyable and rewarding. Whether conducted in a private setting or a classroom setting, it requires consistency, direction and firmness. In general, dogs are eager to please, but teaching them new skills takes time and energy.

It's not necessary to have formal training to teach a dog behavioral skills. It is necessary, however, to be consistent, firm and loving, while making it fun. When dogs know what to expect from their masters, they're much more likely to comply. Here are a few tips to make your training experience a rewarding one for both you and your pet.

First of all, it's important to begin training as soon as you bring a dog into your home. Whether you have a puppy or an older dog, i 's important that it knows who's in charge. As dogs are pack animals, they need to know their role in the hierarchy of the home. Once the dog can identify its master as the leader, it will be much easier to teach it necessary commands. Some dogs may always test their boundaries, but knowing they have a set role in the family gives them a measure of comfort.

Secondly, make it fun for the dog. Speaking in a soothing, encouraging voice, and lavishing praise on your pet when it follows direction helps reinforce the lesson learned. If a dog thinks sitting, staying or fetching is fun, it will be more likely to perform on command. When training a dog, it can be frustrating in the beginning if the dog doesn't follow direction. If this happens, stop the training session. Dogs can sense stressful situations, and react accordingly. Lessons should be enjoyable for a dog. Practicing positive reinforcement goes much further than teaching a dog to fear its master. If it thinks it's playing a game, it's more interested in participating.

Next, be consistent. If you're teaching a dog the 'sit' command, and it's rewarded whether it sits or not, it won't learn the lesson. Follow through is critical during training. A dog must be able to identify consequences for its actions. If it carries out the command, it's praised. If it doesn't do what's been asked, it isn't. Sending mixed messages to the dog will make training that much more difficult.

Use the same hand signals and/or simple verbal commands for each lesson. If you're teaching your dog to stay off the sofa, repeating the same word, such as 'off,' each time is much more effective than using different words, like 'down' and 'go,' interchangeably. The dog needs simple, clear, consistent direction to best understand and carry out its duties.

Also, every member of the family must commit to taking part in training the dog. If one parent enforces the rules, and someone else in the home doesn't, the dog will quickly figure out that it can get away with misbehaving, and all the work the trainer did can unravel.

Dogs can get bored with lengthy training sessions. Positive gains can be seen in just a few minutes per session. Focusing on one trick for too long can cause the dog to tune out entirely, while shorter sessions spread throughout the week can be effective and enforce lessons. As your dog learns tricks, add new ones. This way, their confidence grows when they can respond to commands they're familiar with, but they can look forward to learning something new. They enjoy pleasing their masters, and can withdraw if they sense that they're not doing so.

Formal obedience training is also an option, for owners who would like to reinforce lessons they're teaching at home. Professional trainers have experience with a wide variety of different breeds and temperaments, and adjust their teaching methods accordingly. Also, group training is a great time to work on socializing your dog, or teaching it to be more comfortable around and tolerant of other dogs.

A common reason dogs are dropped off at shelters is because they're not trained. Generally, it's a simple matter of spending enough time with the dog, and consistently enforcing rules. Not only is it rewarding for the dog, it's rewarding for the master as well. When a dog performs a newly-learned command for the first time, it's cause for celebration. Not only is a well-behaved dog a joy to be around, but training a dog can create an unbreakable bond between dog and master.

About The Author: David Beart is owner of the Professors House, a site dedicated to family, relationships, dog training, and household issues.

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