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Sidra and David
Why train the dog? Too often we decide to train the dog when he or her has bad behaviors and they are too hard to manage. The point is that all dogs should be trained by puppies to maintain a certain behavior that can lead to a pleasant coexistence for dogs and humans.
It is true that not all dogs learn everything, it depends on race and character. The ideal is to train them as puppies, but there is always time to learn. One of the first things to understand is that their attitude and the language of their body must be observed very well.
The time of training is fundamental, we need to dedicate some every day. Not too much because the dog cannot store too much information all together, but not too little either, because it is necessary to ensure that the dog assimilates its tasks. There is no need to let too much time pass between one lesson and another because the dog forgets.
You will notice that your dog will immediately learn some things while others will be more difficult, each dog is different, you must have patience.
Another point to keep in mind is that training is not just about the dog, but it is a time of education that concerns the whole family. In fact everyone should work together and behave in the same way, if a family member is training the dog, but the others perpetuate a wrong behavior, the dog gets confused and never learns. If there are children, teach them to respect the dog, its space and its food, for example not to wake it up when sleeping and to treat it gently without bothering it.
What is dog training for?
We have said that all dogs should be trained. Even the most peaceful dogs. An apparently calm dog could still be bored or depressed due to the lack of activity, so training is always useful because it establishes a relationship with the owner and stimulates the dog to learn and play.
The benefits for the dog
The benefits for you
Here are the most common problems to solve when a new puppy enters our lives.
There are dogs that bark very little and others more loud. For example, Beagle, Fox terrier, Schnauzer, Yorkshire and Chihuaua are dogs that bark a lot, while Golden retriever, Labrador and Great Dane are quieter. Of course there are exceptions, and then there are the mixed breed dogs, for whom it is impossible to predict whether they are silent or not. However even the quietest dogs, sooner or later bark!
The dog barks to communicate, so it is very important to understand why the dog is barking. When they want to report someone approaching the house gate, or approaching the car when they are inside, it’s simply a defense mechanism. Our friend wants to tell us a danger. It is virtually impossible to stop the dog from barking in that moment.
But there are times when the dog barks to express discomfort, anxiety or fear. All these moments can be identified and avoided, not only to prevent the dog from making noise, but to calm it and make it safer.
Many dogs bark because they are alone at home, or because they are afraid of something. Sometimes they bark even when we are at home because they get bored and feel alone. If the dog barks all day and all night, there is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. There are dogs that are afraid of the garbage truck, clothes hung out to dry, irrigation systems, even Christmas lights! We do not neglect anything and observe their behavior, the direction of their body as they bark. To give him security we can move him to another part of the house, and when we can we must remove the source of his anxiety.
Biting is another of the normal behavior of dogs. When they are puppies they bite everything, often they destroy whatever they find. It is important to establish a space suitable for the dog and try to keep safe our dearest objects! Then offer the dog something alternative, games and puppets suitable for him, objects of different shapes and textures designed specifically for dogs and which serve to vent the dog’s normal predatory instinct.
This way you avoid him to bite other objects in the house, even if it is always our responsibility to pay attention to their behavior and when the dog takes something that he shouldn’t try to replace it with his game. Usually, trying to remove an object from the dog’s mouth is not easy, nor advisable, but we can take advantage of its curiosity with objects and sound games to keep in hand and pretend to have fun with it, the puppy usually tends to choose the one that we have in our hands.
Another problem is that the puppy does not always distinguish objects from our body! In nature, in fact, puppies play with brothers and sisters and with their mother biting each other. This habit must be removed immediately and when the dog bites us we must stop playing, get up and leave. The dog must understand that biting humans is not fun and is not a game. A useful method is to emit a whine with a high-pitched sound, imitating that of puppies, whenever it bites us.
The walk can be quiet and relaxing or turn into a nightmare. Some dogs find it difficult to stay on a leash and pull the owner forcing him to run long! The dog on a leash pulls when he is anxious and does not care that we are with him.
To avoid this there are several techniques, but it is important to start in an open space like a park, with a very long leash in order to give space to the dog. In general, when the leash is taut because the dog pulls, you must not walk, so you must never let yourself be dragged by the dog. Then observe his behavior and stand still until he decides to stop and look at us, then when the leash is soft we can go. In many cases it is useful to change direction, to give the dog a ride, in order to distract him and relax him.
Sometimes caresses or treats are useful. These techniques can work quickly with some dogs, or take many months with others. It is important to have patience and devote the necessary time to the walk, the dog must understand that the walk must be done together.
The recall is one of the fundamental commands when we want our dog to enjoy a little freedom. It is important that the dog learns in an open space like the countryside, a beach, or a large park so that there is enough space, few people, and few dangers. The dog, without a leash, tends to move away and sniff the environment, so you have to involve it, play with him with the ball or with a frisbie, better if they are objects that he already knows because he use them at home.
Also we should be play and be interesting, if we stand in a corner we are not interesting for him! The game is a moment in which a strong bond is created! Then the dog needs to wander alone, but let’s never lose eye contact. After a few minutes try to recall him, with his name or another word, always using the same word.
Don’t call the dog in an angry tone even if there is a situation of danger, or if it has made you angry, the dog must be called in a cheerful and playful tone, because he should be happy to come back to us. Never beat him or rebuke him after he arrives, for example if he escaped, as he must associate the recall and the return to a moment of happiness. Never lure him into seeing food, but when he returns, only then, you can give him a treat as a reward.
If the dog looks us at the call, but does not come back, we can try to turn our backs and walk in the opposite direction, or pretend to look for something on the grass or shake one of his favorite toys. If it doesn’t come back, wait a while and then try again.
If you feel insecure you can try the recall with a very long leash, even 10 meters! Let the dog go away and then recall it, if the dog turns around and looks at you so you can try to get his attention. When it comes back then you can try without a leash.
Games and agility
The dog can sit still, roll, ride around, jump over obstacles. Many ask themselves about the usefulness of these commands. Learning these commands requires the dog to start thinking, and this is a help for his growth and happiness. The dog engaged in something is a happy dog because after some trials he will have the satisfaction of being successful in what he is asked. The busy dog is a dog that does not get bored and does not go into frustration. All these games, besides entertaining him and us, are important for relieving stress, defeating boredom and giving it security.
Keep in mind that, the dog that barks, that pulls on a leash or that pees at home, can get satisfaction from many games and an active life. The active dog thanks to the games will be more inclined to listen to us when we try to teach them other things.
These are some of the behaviors that a dog should learn from an early age. Training and entertainment must be general. If the dog is calm then it will behave better during the day, so you need to think about general training and not just focus on the single problem. If the dog has aggressive or too impulsive behavior that you cannot control, do not hesitate to contact a professional dog trainer.