If you are thinking of getting a dog or have recently acquired a dog or puppy, you should plan and organise the time to train the dog. Many people choose a dog based on their previous meetings with similar dogs, or just that a puppy looks cute. Good breeders should provide information on the character and activity levels of a dog, but sometimes a puppy is taken home with owners who are not even aware that any dog training is required.
The three main elements of dog training include toilet training, socialisation and obedience training. Most puppies go to their new homes at the age of 8 weeks. Where a puppy has been raised in a home environment by a responsible breeder, the puppy may be partially toilet trained to wee on newspaper when they are indoors. Puppies only have small bladders and can only go without urinating for short periods. At the age of eight weeks, puppies can go for two hours without urinating. So even if they have been toilet trained, when there is no-one at home to let them on the garden, they have no choice but to wee in the house.
Socialisation is very important and often overlooked or misunderstood. Certain dog breeds are genetically pre-disposed to being friendly with unfamiliar dogs. Other breeds can have a tendency to be protective of their owner and may show aggression to unfamiliar dogs, particularly when not socialised correctly at a young age. Puppy socialisation involves introducing the dog to as many different dogs, people, children, sights and sounds as possible. This will help to ensure that the puppy grows into a well balanced and confident dog without any behaviour problems.
In addition to the question of how to train a dog, there is also the issue or why you should train a dog. Although breed characteristics and inherited natures can influence a dog’s behaviour, it is how the owner responds to and trains the dog that has a greater impact. Untrained dogs can at best be difficult to live with, and at worst pose a risk to other people and pets. Examples of bad behaviour include pulling on the lead, jumping up at visitors, stealing food, not coming when called and general hyper activity. These behaviours can be corrected with training.
In order to train a dog, you need the knowledge to know how. There are many good books and videos available and also popular TV programmes demonstrating how to correct unwanted behaviour in dogs. Training classes are available for puppies and dogs of all ages and are good for both socialising your dog and for obedience training. Always use positive dog training methods which are based on ignoring unwanted behaviour and rewarding good behaviour you wish the dog to repeat.
Short training sessions of ten minutes at a time are all that is required. Focus on teaching the dog one command before trying to teach a new one. Practice daily and involve the whole family. Be consistent so that the dog learns quickly and does not get confused. It is important not to inadvertently reward unwanted behaviour. For example, when you come home and the dog jumps up to greet you, if you fuss the dog and talk to him you are effectively rewarding that behaviour. Start training a puppy from 8 weeks of age and teach him what behaviour is acceptable and what is not. Investing some time and effort in training your dog will improve the bond with your dog and ensure that you have a pet to be proud of.