Training is as much for your dog as it is for you
It’s a great bonding exercise, but it also teaches both of you how to understand and communicate with each other. Ask your vet or breeder for good training classes in your area and do your homework. Classes are not only good for obedience, but also help with socialisation with other dogs.
Dog training programmes
- Behavioural training is very basic training that teaches dogs to behave well around people and other animals.
- Obedience training is focused on making dogs obedient to their owners through the use of commands like sit, stay, lie down, etc.
- Agility training is for dogs that enjoy taking part in dog sports, like obstacle courses, racing, or jumping.
- Vocational training is designed to train a dog for a particular skill – for example, search and rescue work, hospital visitations, victim counselling and specific service dogs.
Tips on training
- Be patient.
- Train a little every day, at the same time.
- Always be consistent in your body language, signals and commands.
- Know what you want from your dog – set a clear goal and stick to it.
- Use training as a time to help your dog to problem-solve.
- Find the rewards that work best – some dogs enjoy attention while others prefer food or treats.
- Always end a training session with a successful exercise that your dog enjoys.
Tips with treats
- Use small treats.
- Reward a calm-submissive state, not hyperactive behaviour.
- Don’t bribe your dog.
- Reward every step towards a desired behaviour.
- Remove distractions.
- Try different treats.
- Hold a treat close to your dog’s nose. Move your hand up, so that his or her head follows the treat, and his or her bottom lowers to the floor. Once he or she is sitting, say the command, “Sit”, and give him or her the treat.
- Repeat this training a few times every day, and then ask your dog to sit before mealtimes, when leaving for a walk, and on command.
- Put your dog on a leash. Go down to his or her level and say, “Come”, while gently pulling the leash towards you. When he or she comes to you, reward him or her with affection and a treat.
- Once he or she has mastered this on the leash, continue practising without it, until he or she comes to you on command.
- Hide a treat in your fist and hold it up to your dog’s nose. As he or she sniffs it, move your hands towards the floor so that he or she follows. Then slide your hands along the ground in front of him or her to encourage his/her body to follow his/her head down. Once he or she is the down position, say, “Down”, and reward him or her with the treat.
- Repeat this training every day. If your dog tries to sit up or lunges for the food, say, “No”, and move your hands away. Don’t push him or her into the down position – it is much better to encourage your dog when he or she moves in the right direction.
- Ask your dog to sit. Open the palm of your hand in front of you and say, “Stay”. Take a few steps back and give the command to come. Gradually increase the number of steps you take before giving the command to come and rewarding positive behaviour.