For many people, January is a time where you determine a new year's resolution. Often times these will be to get in better shape or to cut out coffee, but a great resolution to consider for 2020 is training your four-legged friend. Afterall, January is National Train Your Dog Month.
Most people will adopt a dog with the right intentions, but soon find out that the dog has unwanted behavioral issues such as destructive habits, being fearful and/or showing aggressive behavior. In many unfortunate cases, the owner becomes frustrated with these bad behaviors and the dog will end up back in the shelter.
A lot of the times though, unwanted behavior is caused due to a lack of knowledge and training from the owner. Training can be beneficial for your dog because they will enjoy not only the mental stimulation of training but also just having your undivided attention.
Training can also have great health benefits for your dog. Getting up and moving by going outside to practice tricks or basic obedience will help heart health for both you and your dog. Because dogs can be therapeutic, training your dog will make you feel good because it will cause you to release feel-good hormones within your body, just simply by being around your animal. For our pets, training gives them a sense of purpose.
Training is ideal for puppies in the sense that it will provide them with an outlet to burn off some of the energy they have.
START TRAINING YOUR DOG
So when should you start training your dog? Well, the answer to that is as soon as you get the dog. It doesn't matter if it's a puppy or a full-grown dog from a shelter. Every minute you are with them is a training opportunity.
The first step in beginning to train is to know what rewards work for your dog and which ones do not. Rewards can be anything -- it can be a treat they really enjoy (like peanut butter), getting the chance to tug on a rope, or simply getting petted.
The next step is to start with the basics. There are several basic training commands that every pet should know. Basic commands like sit, down, stay, and come are crucial to set your dog up for success and these simple commands can be taught within a few days.
There are several different techniques to do training. Two examples include Capturing and Luring.
Luring Training Method
Luring is the easiest method to start training with. This means you are trying to actively teach the command. For example, if you are working with your dog to teach them how to sit, using the Luring method, you would take your hand with a treat in it and place it in front of the dog's face but not where it can get it. As the trainer, you would hold it above them and once they take a seated position, you would reward and "mark" the behavior.
Marking behavior is a very important part of training it tells the animal that what they are doing is the correct thing. You can mark each behavior with anything you want but most people use “Good” or "Yes”
Capturing Training Method
Capturing is simply trying to capture the desired behavior so when the dog offers the behavior without any direction, you reward. For example, if you want them to lay on their bed, you would reward them anytime they go to bed, sit on it, or lay on it.
With these simple techniques you can start training and be on the road to having your pet be the best it can be.
Interested in learning more about dog training? Check out the Animal Assisted Therapy K9 Track where students take courses in basic training, service dog training, and grooming. Special certificate options allow students to specialize in training or grooming, depending.
About the Author
This blog was written by Dakota Crist, a student intern in the Marketing Office at Hocking College. Dakota is in the Animal Assisted Therapy - Canine program and hopes to either open his own boarding facility in the Hocking Hills, or work as an investigator for the Humane Society.