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Why Is Dog Training Important?
Dog training is essential for a wide variety of reasons:
- Encourages desirable behavior. The most obvious reason to train your dog is that you can encourage good behavior—and discourage undesirable behavior. Training your dog means teaching them how to sit, stay, and heel, as well as how to resist chewing up your shoes, and how to wait to urinate until they’re outside. Training can help puppy owners and dog owners alike enjoy their pet’s company.
- Offers mental stimulation. Just like humans, dogs can get bored—and when they get bored, they can act out. Training your dog, whether you’re teaching them essential commands like how to sit and stay, or fun new tricks like how to play dead can be a fun mental exercise that feels like playtime for your dog.
- Builds trust. When your dog successfully learns a new command, it builds the trust and affection they feel toward you, transforming your dog from the family pet to a loyal and reliable companion. Working on commands with your dog is the key to developing a strong and lasting relationship with them.
3 Dog Training Tips
Whether you just bought a new puppy or adopted an adult dog, here are some tips and training techniques to kickstart your sessions:
- Perform all training on leash. The cornerstone of all training is control. A controlled animal is focused, calm, and attentive—ready to listen and respond to instruction. Since using a leash gives you 90 percent more control over your dog, you should do all training on leash—not so that you can yank it hard when your dog doesn’t listen, but so that you can stay in control and calmly maintain your dog’s attention.
- Keep it consistent and upbeat. While you may be desperately training your dog so that you can save your last few pairs of shoes from chew marks, for your dog, training is all about developing a relationship with you. They listen to commands because they want to please you. By doing training sessions regularly and with an upbeat attitude, you will build trust and affection between you and your dog. No matter which command you’re working on, you’ll want to train your dog in 10- to 15-minute sessions three times a day. Always make sure to end each session on a good note with your dog successfully performing the technique to continue the positive reinforcement.
- Be prepared for ups and downs. The best preparation a dog owner can do when beginning dog training is mental: know that there will be ups and downs in the training cycle. Some days, it’ll seem like your dog can do no wrong—the two of you will be perfectly in sync and your pup will be flying through the commands. Other days, you’ll have to try again and again to get him or her to cooperate. Rest assured that a bad training session does not mean you’ve failed or that your dog has no hope of learning the command. Training is a marathon, not a sprint.
6 Dog Training Basics
Here are a few training basics to keep in mind as you break out the dog treats:
- How to train a dog to sit. “Sit” (or teaching your dog to get into a sitting position) is one of the most basic commands for a reason—it serves as the foundation for a wide variety of other commands, like “down” and “stay.” Learn how to train your dog to sit in our guide here.
- How to train a dog to stay. “Stay” is a command that keeps your dog in one place, and it’s crucial if you want to have control over your dog in sensitive situations. Learn how to teach your dog to stay here.
- How to train a dog to heel. “Heel” is a command that trains your dog to stay by your side as you walk, and is important if you want to take your dog outside off leash.
- How to train a dog to stop barking. Excessive barking and whines can be annoying not only to you but to your friends and neighbors—be sure to show your dog when it’s okay to bark and when it’s important to be quiet.
- How to train a dog to stop chewing. Chewing is a natural behavior for dogs—it’s how they keep their teeth and jaws healthy in the wild. However, your dog won’t immediately know the difference between what they are allowed to chew and what they should stay away from, so you’ll need to teach your dog to redirect their chewing to objects like bones and chew toys.
- How to socialize a dog. A trained dog should feel comfortable around family members, other people, children, other dogs, and other animals. Lack of socialization can lead to aggression and anxiety. Same goes for loud or stressful environments. Slowly acclimating your dog to these situations with basic training will ensure they stay calm when presented with new challenges. Remember: even older dogs can be socialized.
Want to Learn More About Training the Goodest Boy or Girl?
Your dream of having a dog who understands words like “sit,” “stay,” “down,” and—crucially—”no” is just a MasterClass All-Access Pass away. The only things you’ll need to train up a well-behaved pup are your laptop, a big bag of treats, and our exclusive instructional videos from superstar animal trainer Brandon McMillan.