dog obedience training

Training Your Doggo: 6 Most Popular Dog Obedience Training Methods

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dogs fighting
Source: Pixabay

Has your dog been chewing all the shoes around your house? Has he been excessively barking and chasing things around? Or has he been showing aggressive behavior in general? If you’ve been nodding to all those questions, you might want to start training your dog. If you ask around the fur community, you’ll get all kinds of advice on how to train your dog.

Proper dog training is the key to good behavior in dogs. Without dog obedience training, they might have a hard time behaving well. Most dogs learn with boundaries and predictable routines. Furthermore, dog obedience training can turn your pet into an even reliable companion. After all, well-trained dogs can be healthier and be more active while knowing their boundaries.

Dog Obedience Training Explained

outdoor dog obedience training
Source: Pixabay

There are various ways to train your dog. Plenty of dog owners successfully train their dogs on their own. After all, the owner will be the one to give commands throughout the dog’s lifetime. Dog obedience training can also be a memorable bonding experience with your dog. You may sign up for a dog training class, or hire a professional dog trainer for private lessons. 

Dog obedience training aims for a dog to comply with direction and commands given by the handler or the trainer. Hence, the dog must respond reliably each time you give him a command. Dog obedience training ranges from basic training, such as teaching response to commands such as “sit,” “stay,” “come,” and “down,” to high-level dog competition within kennel clubs where advanced commands, performance, and accuracy are judged and scored.

Dog obedience training can be a lengthy and rough process depending on the dog’s behavior and personality, the training methods used, and the training skills and patience of trainers and handlers. In dog training classes, basic or beginner’s obedience is often a short course program ranging from six to ten weeks. Here, you will learn simple commands and how to communicate with the dog properly. Leash control is one of the first training required before moving on to learning other commands.

It is essential to come up with a plan before signing up for a dog obedience training program. You will need to have the proper equipment. You will also need to learn the requirements for the training and the commands that you will need to train your dog, depending on the method you choose.

Dog Obedience Training Methods

There is a lot of disagreement going around among professional dog training communities on which methods are effective and ethical. You may feel lost and overwhelmed about where you should start. Fret not; The Furry Companion listed down the most popular dog obedience training methods and the essential things to know when training your doggo.

Positive Reinforcement

Dogs repeat good behavior when you follow it with a reward. Unruly behavior, on the other hand, means that they don’t get a prize or any acknowledgment. In positive reinforcement training, you do not implement severe reprimands or punishments. You discipline your pet by taking away rewards like treats or toys. Positive reinforcement training usually uses verbal cues, hand signals, toys, tastes, and games to help modify behavior and correct bad habits.

Various experiments have shown that a large percent of dogs will repeat good behavior when they’re given a reward after. By rewarding the desired response immediately, the dog links the good behavior with rewards. Positive reinforcement is highly effective for a soft dog that tends to shy away and is fearful of harsh corrections.

Start the training by continuously rewarding your dog every time he follows your command or responds to you nicely. The commands in this method need to be short and straightforward for easier recognition. As the behavior becomes consistent, gradually move to intermittent rewards. You can also combine positive reinforcement clicker training, which we will elaborate later. This combination gives the dog a sign for when behavior was done.

The key to functional positive reinforcement training is consistency. Therefore, if you’re training your dog in the house, everyone else must be aware and use the same commands and system you are using.

Alpha Dog or Dominance

This method of training posits that dogs follow a hierarchy, viewing their home and family as a pack.  In some cases, if dogs are treated equally to human family members, like allowing them to sleep on your bed or being allowed to disregard commands, they may view themselves as the alpha or pack leader. This kind of dog obedience training aims to create a relationship of submission and dominance.

In this method, it is essential to understand your dog’s body language and respond accordingly. This method conditions the dog via action and response. To establish your status as alpha of the household, you have to project authority. Therefore, you have to be first and be the one in charge.

The alpha is first.

During mealtimes, entering rooms, sitting on the sofa, or going up the stairs, you always have to put yourself and the humans in your pack. You also have to teach your dog a few commands to establish this like sit and stay. If your dog wants something, use action and response conditioning and make him do something for it. For example, if your dog is hungry, they have to calmly wait while sitting or lying down while you get the food ready. 

The alpha is in charge.

Generally, with dominance training, you don’t allow your dog on the furniture or up on your bed with you. You also should never get down to your dog’s eye level because it can signify that you and your dog have equal standing. You have to establish that you are in charge, and you hold dominance.

This method is recommended for dogs who exhibit nuisance behavior and aggression, as well as for dogs confused with their environment. While it can correct unwanted behaviors, some modern trainers say that this method fails to address the root causes of a dog’s bad behavior. It can also turn dogs to become anxious and fearful as the time goes by. Additionally, the dominance should be constant, and reinforcement should be consistent. This can be challenging to maintain for the humans in the family. Furthermore, some modern trainers say this technique is outdated and that new research has shown that dogs today do not rely on pack mentality as previously held.

Clicker Training

Like positive reinforcement, clicker training relies on associating certain behaviors with consequences or rewards. This method makes use of devices that emit a quick and sharp noise. A clicker signals a dog that he accomplished a command or wanted behavior. It gives a signal for the moment the dog finishes executing an action.

The first step in clicker training takes place before dog obedience training begins. You have to associate the sound of the clicker with something good, letting your dog know and establish a connection with a reward. You can start this by clicking the clicker and immediately offering the dog a treat. It is called the click and treat pattern. Repeat this pattern of training over and over again until your dog has adapted to it.

Then you can begin training your dog with the clicker by introducing verbal commands to form new associations. Clicker training is an excellent way to teach your dog new tricks; however, it does not necessarily curb unwanted behaviors. Nonetheless, you can combine it with other methods for a well-behaved and well-trained dog. 

Clickers come in a variety of designs like EcoCity 4-Pack Dog Training Clicker with Wrist Strap or PetSafe Clik-R Trainer.

Electronic Training

Electronic training falls under the correction type training system. It makes use of an electric collar. This collar emits shock to the dog by clicking the button on the transmitter whenever they show undesirable behavior. Unlike positive reinforcement, this type of dog obedience training associates negative behavior with the method. The theory behind it is that the dog will associate the shock with the action, therefore, ceasing to perform it again.

Many owners and trainers find this method problematic. First, enacting disciple depends on punishment instead of rewards. Thus, the dog learns what he’s not supposed to do, instead of instilling in him the behavior you want.. Additionally, it can lend to a considerable amount of stress which can lead to long-term anxiety issues. People who use this method, however, claim that the risk of hurting your dog with an electric collar is less when compared to other devices like choke collars.

If you’re considering using this method, it is essential to consult a professional about the proper use of electronic devices as well as the appropriate implementation of training. Professional trainers may get positive results from this method, but inexperienced owners should not use it. The overuse of electronic training can cause both unnecessary physical and psychological pain to the dog. You need to be a responsible owner.

Correction-based methods may be useful in curbing undesirable behaviors, especially for dogs with aggression issues. However, it can also worsen the problems in unstable dogs. It is vital to consult with a professional trainer and your vet before proceeding with this training method.

Model/Rival or Mirror Training

Dogs learn through observation, and this is the basis for the model/rival method. It is imperative to provide a model for good behaviors so your dog can mimic them. A rival can also be used to compete for resources.

You can have another human or an already trained dog acting as the model. Your dog observes and learns as you praise the model for executing commands or scold them for unwanted behavior. By acting as the rival, on the other hand, the model competes with the dog to do the right task for a desired treat or toy as a reward. It gives your dog the motivation to finish the task quickly.

Mirror training relies on the same rules. The dog learns by taking the dog owner as a model and example, offering rewards for mimicking good behavior. Some trainers find this method more natural and preferable than positive reinforcement, although both have the same level of success. This type of dog obedience training method may be more practical and comfortable for you if you spend a lot of time with your pet.

Board and Train

Board and train dog obedience programs are designed for a dog owner who doesn’t have the time to attend training classes with their dogs, or for those who need serious help with their dog’s issues. Typically, you send your dog to a training facility where he will stay for a few days to several weeks. There, a professional dog trainer works with your dog and teaches it basic obedience and commands, addressing common behavior problems. In a boarding kennel facility, your dog will also have the opportunity to socialize with other dogs during playtime and training.

At the end of the training, the dog owner spends some time with the trainer to learn how to handle the dog properly. After learning the follow-up training, the owner then picks up the dog. Your dog will get the necessary training, exercise, and mental stimulation in a reputable training facility. 

With board and train programs, always check with your local municipality for the facility’s status. Make sure that it is licensed and bonded. Check the areas where your dog will sleep and spend time training. It is also essential to observe the trainer in action to give you an idea of the methods that they will use on your dog. To get more insight, you can speak with previous clients for a referral. Most importantly, review all the costs that you will need to pay as dog training facilities can be costly.

Board and Train Costs

Private dog obedience training classes can cost from $200 to $600 for six sessions. There are also obedience board kennel facilities that run from $500 to $2,500 for two to four weeks of training and boarding. The cost is determined by factors such as the age, breed, and size of your dog. Classes for puppies may cost less than those for adult dogs. The adjustment and behaviors that need to be corrected may also contribute to the cost.

This type of training method can be a great option with the right choice of trainer. Similarly, you, as the owner, also have to be consistent with the commands and training that your dog learned. If you don’t follow along with the training set by the trainer, it will be hard to elicit the good behavior that your dog has learned. Make sure to ask the trainer regarding follow-up training at home, as well as other questions and concerns that you have in mind.

Dog Obedience Training Tips

After looking through the different dog obedience training methods, it’s time to know the basic things and tips you need for training.

Equipment

Dog obedience training does not require many items, but you do need to have the basics to make the process more convenient and get positive results. Choose a comfortable and suitable dog training collar or harness that you will use outdoors. It is imperative to note and remember that a retractable leash is not appropriate for dog training. Additionally, you will also need to stock up with treats that your dog will enjoy and are easy to eat. 

Sessions

Dog training’s success can be attained slowly but surely. When teaching your dog new skills, try to keep the session short and sweet. Just like children, dogs don’t have long attention spans. Training sessions should last 10 to 15 minutes and two to three times per day. Also, try to stick with one action or skill per session to avoid confusing your dog.

Always end your sessions on a good note. Quit while you’re ahead! Be sure to stop before he gets tired or bored.

Rewards

Rewards don’t only come in the form of treats. Be sure to give your dog a reward that is something gratifying. Depending on the situation, you can reward them with something worth working for, like chicken pieces or a chance to run off the leash at the dog park. What your dog considers rewarding may change at any given time. Sometimes, a scratch behind the ears or playing with him might be the most rewarding. You must be able to gauge what your dog wants to know which reward will work best for a particular time.

Commands

When teaching your dog a command or cue, decide on just one word or phrase to avoid confusion. Make sure that you use these commands clearly and consistently. They can quickly learn the meaning of simple commands like “sit” and “stay.” However, when you use it in a complex sentence, they may have difficulty understanding what you’re trying to say. They can also get confused if you use different words for the same thing. 

The most basic dog commands are the following:

  • Sit. A dog is in a sitting position
  • Down. A dog gets down with its front feet and rear legs touching the ground. 
  • Come or Here. Used to call your dog.
  • Stay. The dog must retain the position that he’s in until the handler gives the release command. 
  • Fetch. The dog will retrieve an object that has been thrown and bring it back to the person who threw it. 
  • Drop. This command makes your dog drop anything that he picked up. Learning this command can help prevent your dog from eating dangerous items or from destroying an object.
  • Give. The “give” command trains the dog to release an object in his mouth to the owner’s hand. 

Patience and Consistency

To make the most out of your dog’s training, take it step by step. It is essential to be patient because learning doesn’t happen overnight. Remember that your dog is processing a lot of information that you’re trying to make him understand. Thus, you must do your part in being patient and understanding.

When teaching your dog a new skill, start with an easy step first, and then gradually increase difficulty. If you’re starting to train your dog to stay, start with 3 seconds, and after some practice, try to increase the duration to 7 seconds, and so on. By systematically training them, it will help your dog learn other skills faster.

Moreover, whichever training method you choose, the essential part of any training is maintaining consistency. Even if you choose the most rigid and intensive training method, it will fail if not applied consistently. Dogs require repetition to learn, so it is vital to establish wanted and unwanted behaviors and use them in a lot of practice. The action must be reinforced to ensure that the dog understands what you expect from him. Repetition and consistency is the key to conquering training obstacles.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of which training method you use, dog obedience training boils down to controlling the consequences of your dog’s behavior. In shaping your dog’s behavior, it is essential to establish strong leadership and excellent communication. Remember that good behavior equates to reward, while undesirable behavior equates to minor punishment or no acknowledgment.

Learning how to train your dog with skills or with commands can significantly improve both your lives by ensuring your safety and strengthening the bond between the two of you. As most dogs are usually eager to learn, dog obedience training can be a lot of fun. With excellent communication and patience, you can relay what you expect from your dog in a way that they will understand. Your dog has to know why it is in their best interest to comply with your commands.

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