Training your Dog: Before you Begin, Part I

Dogs care about many things, some of which include food, being a member of the group, rules and routine, playing and having fun, mating, protecting the cohesion of the group, defending their territory, affection, cooperation, praise, and being useful or having a job.

Rules and consistently implementing them are key ingredients in training your dog. When dogs live in a group with each other the rules don’t change. They are the same day in and day out. And the way group members enforce the rules is also the same from one day to the next.

Inconsistency is very confusing and stressful for dogs. So step number one is to decide what rules your dog/s will live by. If there is more than one human in the household have a joint discussion so everyone can agree on the rules. Negotiate and compromise with each other. After all in the end it is about doing what’s best for the dog not about one person being right.

Dogs crave structure and harmony. Please give it to them by everyone sticking to the agreed upon plan of action and fine tuning things as you go. Support each other and avoid undermining each other or using the dog/s to score points, etc.

Next, decide on the words you will use for commands. Some of the most commonly used dog commands are: sit, stay, down, off, stand, come, watch me, heel, leave it, fetch, wait, and okay. You can use different words or a language other than English but once you have chosen your command words stick to them and ensure everyone in the family uses the same commands.

Then decide on which dog training approach you will use. There are many to choose from. Research indicates positive reinforcement training along with being a consistently reliable leader is one of the most effective and humane ways of training dog/s.

In the next article, ‘Before You Begin – Part 2’, I will continue to discuss some of the things to consider before you embark on training your dog.