Dog training is a task that many people stress about doing, but if you train your dog correctly it’s a lot of fun for you and your furry friend. One of the hardest things people must learn when training a dog is that you have to think like a dog. We love our pets, and they are part of the family, but they are not people and it’s not fair to the dog to be treated like anything other than a dog.
Often, the biggest obstacle between a well-trained friend and an unruly furry nightmare is a lack of proper communication. Just like people, some dogs will respond well to certain methods of training while others will not. Today, we will discuss five popular methods of dog training and let you know some tips to figure out the best method for your dog.
The first piece of equipment you will need to have is a high-quality dog training collar. Dog training collars come in lots of styles and materials. Many trainers avoid using choke collars due to the risk of harm. Instead, you should learn to use a dog e collar. Shock collar for a small dog is as safe as for a large dog.
Top Training Methods
These methods are in no particular order. One isn’t better than another, nor are they exclusive of each other. You will likely find that some methods from one style work well for you, while others do not. The key is to be patient with your dog, consistently manage your training, and have fun.
1. Alpha or Dominance Training: This training method uses the idea that dogs are pack animals with a dominant leader. Dogs that know their place in the pack (not the leader) are calmer and more obedient. The idea is that dogs who are unsure of leadership need to be in charge, and they are not going to listen to you if they think they might be your leader.
Alpha training has fallen out of favor in recent years, but some of the techniques can be effective when handling certain behaviors. One technique is to flip the dog on it’s back when it misbehaves and hold it securely without causing harm until the dog calms down. This can help train dogs not to be aggressive toward other dogs or children.
If you wish to train your dog to see you as the leader, you should avoid feeding the dog from your plate, letting it on furniture, and you should avoid getting on the ground with your dog. These are behaviors dogs can interpret as making them your equal rather than the alpha. A dog shock collar works well for correcting behaviors without causing harm, much like when an alpha dog nips at a disobedient dog in the pack.
2. Positive Reinforcement Training: This method relies on the idea that your dog wants to receive a reward for doing the correct thing. When you train your dog using positive reinforcement, the dog only receives a command and a reward. You do not use negative words to reprimand when a command is not followed. Instead, you do nothing. The belief is that seeing nothing from you, the dog realizes it has done the incorrect thing.
This method is also commonly called positive conditioning, or just simply conditioning. It can be a highly effective method and works very well when dogs are young and receptive to treats or praise. Most dogs will learn to do basic commands quite quickly when using positive conditioning techniques. Elements of positive reinforcement training carry over into other methods of training to varying degrees.
Positive reinforcement training can result in some dogs learning only to do a command when a treat is offered, and with the absence of a treat, they may not listen or respond. Using treats should be done sparingly both for the dog’s health and to prevent learning bad food behaviors. Use praise and physical touch rather than treats to praise your dog for succeeding instead.
3. Clicker/ Whistle Training: Clicker training works because the dog learns to associate a pattern of clicks or series of whistles with a reward for correctly performing the command. Clicker training is often combined with positive reinforcement training. Clicker training works particularly well with dogs that are easily distracted as the sound of the clicker grabs their attention.
When you decide to use clicker training, you will likely also combine it with voice commands. The key to effective clicker training is consistency. The second the dog performs the correct command; you must reward the behavior. Clicker training can be useful for diverting a dog's attention from an unwanted source, such as other dogs so you can resume control after the distraction.
Clicker training can be an effective way to train your dog for off leash commands, but it can also be particularly difficult to consistently utilize. You will basically have to carry a clicker with you all the time. Many advanced dog training techniques like obstacle courses primarily rely on clicker training. Training collars for dogs can play audible notes to aid in clicker training.
4. Model-Rival or Mirroring Training: This method relies on the idea that dogs will mimic one another. In essence, a dog that sees another dog sit when given the command to sit and sees that dog get a reward, it will learn to mirror the behavior. This is a particularly effective method when training young dogs joining older dogs. It’s important to understand model-rival training, because it unfortunately leads to bad behaviors often.
When you train your dog using this method, you may have another human sit in as the model, performing commands and receiving praise. When your dog is interested in the activity, give it the command, and reward the dog when it does the trick. This method can be slow and isn’t very practical if you are a single person with one dog.
Remember that if your dog sees other dogs tearing up furniture, chewing on shoes, and digging holes in the yard, it’s likely to engage in the same behaviors. It’s just nature. You can use other methods to retrain dogs that engage in bad behavior, but it is a lot of work.
5. E Collar Training: Also called dog shock collar training, it is an often-misunderstood training method that works particularly well for off-leash training. When a person uses shock collars for dogs- meant to train a dog, there is no harm to the dog, and it will learn commands quickly. The proper way to use an e collar while training is to use it in combination with other training methods and to use only as much “force” as it takes to get your dog’s attention.
Inappropriate use of E collar and a lack of understanding has made e collar training “evil” for many people. Numerous militaries, law enforcement, search and rescue, and other agencies use e collars for training because it is effective and not harmful when done correctly. E collar training is best used when combined with other methods. Many people use aspects of positive reinforcement and clicker training with shock collars for dogs to reinforce training. Shock collars for dogs can be safer than other types of dog training collars and are far less likely than choke collars, spike collars, or martingale collars to result in injury.
Common Tips Regardless the Training Method
There are some things you should be doing with your dog no matter what method of training or type of dog you are training. If you are not doing these tips, it’s a good idea to start right away. Your dog will be happier and more eager to succeed at training.
Start as Soon as Possible
A puppy begins learning the moment it is born and regardless of funny sayings, dogs continue to learn throughout their lives. Older dogs that are poorly trained frequently develop undesirable behaviors, but it is possible to train even the most stubborn old dog to learn new tricks.
It’s never too soon or too late to start. Even when you adopt an older dog, the period of transitioning into your home is an opportunity to form new habits. Working with your new dog immediately lays the groundwork for effective training.
Socialize your Dog
Even if you have several dogs, it is important for your dogs to meet other dogs and learn proper social behavior. Dogs are social animals and are healthier and happier when they interact with other dogs. When you have several dogs that do not interact with other dogs, bad behaviors like aggressiveness and difficulty following commands can result. Many places these days have community dog parks that are a great way to socialize your pooch.
You also want to socialize your dog to your home. It is a good idea to start early with training to prevent food and location aggression. You should be able to pick your dog’s food bowl up or sit on the couch without worrying about getting bitten.
Check Your Local Laws
Before you invest your time, money, and love in training a dog, it is important to check the local laws in your area. Many areas today are restricting the breeds owners may have and almost all cities have licensing, vaccination, and registration laws that you must follow. In many jurisdictions, failure to follow the law will result in the confiscation and destruction of your dog.
Vaccinations can be very important. Protecting your dog, particularly puppies, from diseases like Parvo is simple and ineffective, and there are few things more heartbreaking than a litter of pups with a Parvo infection. Dogs that are not vaccinated in accordance with regulations are not allowed to use dog parks, kennels, or travel with you in many areas.
Be Patient and Consistent
One of the most difficult parts about training dogs is realizing that you have to train yourself, too. That means you cannot get frustrated when your dog refuses to perform a command or breaks a rule. It also means that you must be consistent. Every time your dog performs badly or does something well, the behavior needs to be addressed. Different methods inform you on different ways of addressing behaviors, but every method requires that you are patient and consistent.
Make sure everyone in the household is onboard and using the same methods and commands to prevent confusing the dog. A dog that gets different commands for the same behavior is not likely to learn well.
No matter what method of training you decide to try with your dog, consistency is key. Successful trainers set a time each day to work on training and continue reinforcing training throughout the life of the dog. Your dog will be happier and better behaved when it is well-trained, and it’s an opportunity to get exercise and increase the bond you have with your furry friend.