Many people think that dog training is difficult. Many also believe that some dogs are simply not trainable. Both of these views are wrong. The truth of the matter is this: all dogs can be trained, and training a dog doesn’t have to be hard work. Training a dog can actually be fun. It is of course true that some dog breeds are easier to train than others. What we disagree with, however, is the claim that there are dogs that cannot be trained – because it is so untrue. What we venture to explore then are some of the things you need to do to get your dog’s training right.
Parameters for measuring success
You will be considered to have trained your dog correctly if you are able to pass on the essential dog skills to your dog within a reasonable time.
You will also be considered to have properly trained your dog if you manage the essential dog skills in a lasting way. This is to say, in other words, that you will not be seen as having been very successful in training your dog if the dog forgets the skills you learned within a day.
Thus, in a nutshell, the parameters by which success in dog training can be measured include:
– How much time is spent on transferring the essential skills to the dog.
– The skills that are built into the dog.
– How long the skills are retained by the dog.
Of course, if you take too long to transfer certain skills to the dog, if you find it impossible to instill certain skills in the dog, or if the dog continues to forget skills taught to him or her, it does not necessarily mean that you don’t do things well. You have to keep in mind that there are two variables that come into play here. The first of these is your skill, aptitude and commitment as a dog trainer. And the second of them is the dog’s natural abilities – against a background where some dog breeds seem to “get” things faster than others.
Early initiation as the key to success in dog training
Simply put, there are some skills that you can only teach a dog when he or she is young. This means that the common belief that puppies under six months should not be trained is completely wrong. In fact, there are some skills you will find difficult to teach a dog older than six months. It’s worth noting that unlike us humans, dogs are (in some ways) highly evolved animals – whose life skills learning process starts the moment they’re born. That is why a puppy that loses its mother at three months of age may be able to survive in the wild, whereas it would be very difficult for a human baby that lost its mother at the same age to survive on its own in a similar environment.
Now is the best time to start training a dog when he or she is learning basic life skills so that the skills you want to pass on to him or her are also adopted along with the basic dog life skills. That way, the necessary behavior will be part of the dog’s personality. They would be more deeply rooted in him or her. This is not to say that an older dog cannot be trained. It’s just that you’ll have a harder time (and less fun) training the older dog.
It later turns out that some of the people who end up under the impression that their dogs are untrainable tend to be people who try to teach their dogs certain skills too late in their dogs’ lives. When the dogs fail to select such skills, they are labeled with boneheads – when it is not really their fault that they fail to select the skills, but rather the trainer’s fault for not starting training sooner.
Correct use of rewards and corrections as a key to success in dog training.
When we get to the boring part of dog training, it emerges that various skills and behaviors can only be transferred and fixed in dogs through the correct use of rewards and corrections.
The greatest reward you can give a dog is attention. And conversely, the biggest correction/punishment you can give to a dog is deprivation of attention.
Therefore, if you want to get your dog to choose a certain behavior, you must simulate (or rather illustrate) it for him or her, and then reward him or her (with attention) when he behaves accordingly, while punishing him or her. her (with deprivation of attention) when or she fails to behave accordingly. Just looking lovingly at the dog is a way to “reward” him or her with attention. Petting him or her is another form of attention reward. Verbally praising your dog is another way to reward him or her with attention. It is true that the dog may not understand the words, but he or she can sense the feelings behind them. The dog seems to have that ability.
Meanwhile, if your dog was enjoying your attention while you were doing something right, and you rob him or her of that attention the moment he or she starts doing something wrong, he immediately notices the reaction and makes the connection between the misbehavior and the deprivation of attention. He tends to correct his behavior to regain your attention. These things work especially well if the dog you are trying to train is still young.
What you must not do, however, is hit the dog as a form of punishment/correction: the simple reason is that the dog will not understand that being hit is a form of “punishment”. Rather, the hit dog will assume that you are just being violent towards him or her. If the dog continues to do things like run to the road or mess with neighbors, it’s better to find ways to limit his movements, rather than hitting him.
Patience as the key to success in training dogs
You will not succeed in dog training unless you are patient. You have to keep in mind that it takes some time for dogs to pick up ideas that seem too simple to us humans. There are people who have this misconception that you can only succeed in dog training if you are “tough”. On the contrary, this is one of those endeavors where kindness and the “soft approach” seem to work better than the harsh, Spartan approach to training.
Persistence as a key to success in dog training
Closely related to patience (as a key to success in dog training) is persistence. You will not be successful as a dog trainer if you give up too easily – that is, like when you illustrate a desired behavior to a dog, and then give up if the dog is unable to pick it up immediately. The truth of the matter is that you have to illustrate a desired behavior to a dog several times, while applying the necessary reinforcements, until the dog eventually comes around to learning what is expected of him or her.
Consistency as a key to success in dog training
This is a scheme where, for example, you have decided on a specific reinforcement (reward or punishment), you must use it consistently, so that the dog can understand what it really means during training. One of the worst things you can do when training a dog is to send mixed signals, because once a dog gets confused, it becomes very difficult to train him or her.
Additional keys to successful dog training
In addition to these, you may need to do additional research (online or in the library) before you begin.
And should your DIY efforts at training the dog fail, you should consider enlisting the help of a professional trainer before giving up on the dog altogether.