Dog obedience training is essentially the process of altering the behavior of a dog to undertake specific tasks, so that it can effectively participate in contemporary domestic life. Dogs learn from all interactions they have with their environment and this can be through operant conditioning, in which they form an association between a consequence and a behavior; non-associative learning, in which their behavior is modified through sensitization or habituation or classical conditioning, which allows dogs to form link between two stimuli.
Specific Benefits of Dog Obedience Training
Training a dog is the best thing that can be done for the owner-pet relationship. Below are some of the benefits that can be derived from obedience training:
- It eliminates confusion and makes life easier for the dog. The dog will understand right from wrong and know its place in the world.
- Rewarding and fun and for both the dog and the owner.
- The dog will be confident, relaxed, happy and will be a pleasure to be around. You can also extend greater freedom to the dog, as it becomes more trustworthy after obedience training.
- Mutual respect and trust will be gained. The dog develops the understanding that you will always be consistent and fair.
- Dog obedience training satisfies some crucial needs in the life of the dog including spending time with you, mental stimulation and exercise.
Taking on the leadership role in the relationship between you and the animal is a necessary part of the obedience training process. Doing so involves establishing the position of a pack leader; however, it should not involve being aggressive towards the dog. Below are some benefits of becoming a leader:
- It is less likely that the dog will try to harm you, family members or other individuals
- There will be no pulling on the leash when taking the dog for walks
- The dog will be well-behaved around strangers and other dogs
- The dog will learn to be respectful of your possessions
- The dog will be less nervous and anxious
- It will reduce constant whining and barking
- The dog will be more content and happier
Training a puppy as soon as it gets to its new home is extremely important. Dog obedience training involves teaching the dog commands such as heel, come, sit and stay. Training sessions must be short and frequent to ensure that the dog does not become bored. Adequate training can take place two to three times per day for ten to fifteen minutes each session.
Before giving a command, get the attention of the dog by speaking its name; then give a one-word command like “sit” or “come.” Exercise patience as you may have to repeat the command several times before getting the desired result. Keep frustration out of your tone and never use any negative reinforcement.
Speak the commands loudly, clearly and repetitively (you can use a clicker). Soon the dog will begin to make the association between the word and its meaning. Remember to always praise the dog when it responds accurately. This will encourage the dog to perform accurately the next time. Food or affection can be used to reward the dog.
How to Stop Barking and Biting
Among the most important aspects of obedience training is teaching the dog to stop barking or biting. Below are some guidelines that can be used to ensure that the dog does not exhibit these bad behaviors:
When you enter the home and see the dog, you will both be excited. It is highly likely that the dog will bark, become hyper-active and jump up and down. Resist the urge to reward this behavior by petting the dog or joining in on the excitement. This will encourage the behavior and the dog will believe that it is the right way to act when you come through the house.
This may be difficult but show no emotion when your pet is behaving like this; ignore the behavior and do not respond to the jumping and barking. Do the same thing every time you come into the house and wait until the dog is calm. After the dog has calmed down, you can go ahead with greeting and petting; this will indicate that you are rewarding the dog for calming down. This should be reinforced every day and eventually the jumping and barking will reduce when you enter through the door.
Frequently, biting or nipping is associated with excitement; however, this could also be an indication of underlying aggression. This must be immediately nipped in the bud and the dog should know that this behavior is unacceptable.
When the dog bites or nips, firmly say “no” and then “crate.” Put the dog in the crate and keep it there for five minutes. At first it may be wise to lock the cage; however, as dogs become more accustomed to the punishment, they typically remain in the cage by themselves. Consistently punishing the dog is very important; this will reinforce the fact that biting is unacceptable and will result in punishment.
Seek professional help if the crate method is unsuccessful as the aggression has to stop before it turns into something dangerous.
Carrying it Forward at Home
Even with professional training, it is important to reinforce certain habits at home. Practice giving commands and ensure that positive behavior is rewarded and negative behavior is punished.
Obedience dog training is a step-by-step process that is built upon over time. Training establishes a solid foundation for the dog to learn additional training commands and skills. Throughout this process the dog will be gaining confidence along the way.