Once we decide to adopt or purchase a dog we must be ready to spend time socialising it and teaching it the rules of the house. Obviously, dogs differ in many aspects such as size, breed and temperament. Depending on why we want to become pet owners there will be a variety of methods through which we can communicate what we expect from our pooch.
But first of all, it is essential that we prepare ourselves as owning a dog is not only a benefit to our wellbeing but also a great responsibility. A new puppy brings affection and enjoyable moments but most of all its individual needs and temperament which we must recognise and respect. When thinking about bringing a living being into our house we must carefully think about our lifestyle and requirements. So do your research and ask yourself what role you’d like your pet to play in your life. Will you go hunting with your dog? Or will you rely on your fur friend to help herd your sheep? Are you looking for companionship in the house or for a hiking buddy? Once you’ve answered this important question, make sure you have enough knowledge to help you pick the dog breed and individual that will match your expectations.
If you think a puppy is cute, stop to consider if you’ll be able to cope with an active dog that will require plenty of attention and care. Maybe you’ll realise a young dog won’t suit your routine and realise an older pet is in fact the best choice for you. Purchasing a young dog will require we spend more time monitoring its every move and playing with it, while adopting an older pet may mean it will need less exercise but a lot more veterinary care.
Think about what you envision yourself doing with your pet? Maybe welcoming guests for dinners at your house or going out to dog-friendly parks and venues. No matter what, you will need to feel confident that your pooch will behave nicely around strangers and other animals or simply walking in busy streets.
Training should be an essential step in every dog’s life from the moment it is allowed to socialise with other pets. Therefore, once you’ve brought your new pet home consider researching obedience or behavioural trainers and maybe consult with the breeder or vet to get useful information.
There are a number of training methods and sometimes you may find yourself testing more than one, other times owners find the one that best works for their pooch and stick with it.
The type of training you choose will depend on the role you are wanting to assign to your pet, however a golden rule for all animal lovers is to never use aversive or harsh methods. Forcing your pet to do as told through aversive gadgets such as shock collars or by shouting and even hitting it will only cause your pooch to become fearful of you without understanding why. Always find a positive kind of training that rewards your furry friend with treats or pats and cuddles.
Furthermore, you will need to consider age-specific sessions if your pet is a puppy. There are a variety of associations, dog lovers groups and even vets who offer puppy pre-school or puppy training for the youngest doggies. On the other hand, if you’ve just adopted an older pet that doesn’t have much energy but still needs to learn some simple commands like “sit”, “down” or “come” then you may consider short obedience sessions or even behavioural training.
Here are some of the most used and popular training methods:
Alpha Dog or Dominance, Positive Reinforcement, Scientific Training, Clicker Training, Electronic Training, Model-Rival or Mirror Training, Relationship-Based Training.
You can further research and read more about the different techniques in this article.
Nowadays, scientific research and dog behavioural experts provide more and more evidence debunking even the effectiveness of the Alpha Dog theory. You may read more about this subject here.
Once you've decided on the training method, you can start looking for a trainer that practices what you have found to be most suitable for your pet. Research online, consult with other dog owners and reach out to the vet or breeder for professional advice. There are never too many opinions you can get if your goal is to help your dog behave appropriately in "our" world.
There are a few basic rules that all pet owners should follow when choosing a Dog trainer:
The benefits linked to dog training are endless, just like those that come from being a pet owner:
First of all, training helps keep your dog physically and mentally active.
An active and responsive pooch is a healthy and happy pet. Dog owners who spend time working towards new goals are also more active and fit.
Teaching commands and behaviours reinforces your leadership so that your furry friend can trust you to take care of the family and relax.
Your dog’s interactive and social skills improve through training while it learns to meet new people and other animals.
Spending time teaching new tricks helps strengthen the relationship between you and your furry friend.
Dedicating time to your dog will also help you meet like-minded people and improve your own social skills.
No matter the age of your dog, a good trainer can suggest the appropriate kind of activities to suit your pet companion’s stage in life. There is always time for both of you to learn a new way to interact!
A good training method will teach your pup to behave with guests entering your house or strangers outside, other dogs on the walk and other animals in the countryside.
Finally, training helps your pooch being the ideal and well-mannered family member but it also helps you feel connected to your fur friend and relaxed about how it will behave.
As previously mentioned, responsible and loving dog owners will stay away from aversive or negative styles of teaching their pooches. Regardless of the method and/or trainer you choose, remember that training your pet will require patience and a positive attitude. The process should be fun for both you and your dog, and although there may be many repetitions involved the reward will be an obedient, well-behaved and happy dog.