Whenever you bring a new dog home, whether they’re a cuddly puppy or a rescue from the shelter, the first thing on your mind should be behavior training. Sure, dogs are cute and they make amazing companions. But in order to ensure that your new friend will be a friend for life, you have to equip them with the tools they need to be productive, well-behaved members of your family.
The first thing many people think about is professional training. But that can cost an arm and a leg, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t give training your new furry friend a shot all on your own!
That’s why we put together this list of the best dog training tips and tricks for you to brush up on. Read on to learn how to curb those bad habits and instill good puppy manners in your new friend!
Be the Alpha
Before anything else, dogs are pack animals. And in every pack, there’s a hierarchy. Make sure you’re at the top of the hierarchy in your home.
When you demonstrate to your furry friend that you’re the leader and that they’re expected to follow you, it’ll take no time at all for them to strive to please you at every opportunity.
Here are some ways you can show your small dog who’s boss:
- Keep direct eye contact
- Stand tall
- Keep your voice firm
- Place your hand on the dog’s shoulder
When you’ve got the basics of dog training down, it’s a good idea to keep your dog beside you or behind you, while you walk, not in front of you dragging you down the street. Also, might sound harsh, but you should make your dog work for food, toys, and attention. A quick “sit” before playing does wonders for establishing your role as the leader.
Consistency is Key
Before you even bring your dog home, establish the rules of the house. If you don’t want your dog to sit on the furniture, make sure everyone in the house is on board and can stay consistent with that rule.
A dog will never learn what behaviors are and aren’t acceptable if you change them up every day. So decide on what the rules are and stick to them.
You should also have a set time every day that you train your dog. Make it the same time and keep the sessions short, always followed up by plenty of praise. This will ensure that your dog will know what to expect and will work extra hard to please you next time.
Clicker training is a great way to use positive reinforcement to train your dog. It’s easy to use and most dogs grasp it quickly.
A clicker is just a small, handheld device that makes a sharp clicking sound when you press down on it. It’s an instantaneous reward, letting your dog know the exact second they do the thing you want them to do.
When you praise your dog or when you give them a treat, it’s often a few seconds after they did the right thing. It might seem like an insignificant thing, but those seconds are crucial to a puppy brain. So when you press down on the clicker and follow up with a treat or praise, your puppy will begin to associate the noise with positive reinforcement.
Using hand signals is another great way to train your dog, though it’s most effective when your furry friend knows the command you’re trying to reinforce.
Some common behaviors to pair with hand signals are:
- Good dog
You can view here for the basics for teaching your dog hand signals.
This is one of the most important things for you to keep in mind when you’re in the middle of training a dog. It can get difficult, even downright frustrating. But you need to be able to keep a clear head when you’re working on dog training.
Never, ever hit your puppy. The thought of swatting your puppy with a newspaper when they do something wrong is outdated and it only leads your new friend to fear you. Try not to raise your voice, either.
You should also never punish your dog for something they did while you weren’t looking. While dogs are smart and fast learners, they’re not capable of connecting your punishment with something that they did even minutes ago.
Unless you caught your dog in the act of doing something naughty, you shouldn’t scold them for it.
Think about it this way: You call for your dog to come, but they’re too busy playing with their toy to obey. You call for them again, and this time they listen. When they approach, you scold them for not coming the first time.
While you might see that as trying to reinforce that they need to listen, all your dog sees is you scolding them for coming when called.
So be gentle and make sure you’re discouraging the bad behaviors while reinforcing the ones you want to stick around.
Dog Training at Home
Dog training can be a frustrating thing. It takes a lot of time and a lot of energy to get a small dog from a hyper, sometimes overwhelming ball of energy to the tame, loyal dog companion you always dreamed of. But with some work and consistency, you can train your new friend to be a functional, well-behaved part of your home.
For more tips and tricks on how to live a happier life, check out this article next!