As well as training your dog, you should also be teaching yourself how to interact with him to get the most out of your relationship.
Two-way dog training
Most people get a dog for the company, exercise and enjoyment these hugely loyal and entertaining animals bring. However, in order to fit into and be accepted by society, dogs are expected to behave in a certain way. Indeed, we often expect our dogs to 'know' this is how they are meant to behave, without actually considering whether this is normal for them. Knowing how to train your dog is a skill you will need to develop.
Understanding more about how a dog thinks and what is 'normal' for your dog will help you. It is important to remember that, for the most part, our dogs are keen to please – so if they are not doing as you ask, it may be because you are not being clear about what you want or are not using rewards, commands and body language in a way your dog understands.
When to start training
Whether you have just brought home a new puppy or a rescue dog, training should begin straight away. Remember, your dog can pick up bad habits if allowed to get away with certain behaviours when settling in. For example, you allow your puppy to sleep in your room for the first few nights because he is crying, but a few months down the line you cannot shut your dog in the kitchen at night because he barks the house down! So you should decide on the ground rules before your dog arrives and stick to them.
Mostly, you will need a bit of patience and a willing pet. You will also need a small, tasty treat to reward your dog and a quiet room with no distractions to enable you and your dog to concentrate. It can be very helpful to join a training class for guidance, support and socialisation or work from a reputable dog-training book that uses a positive reinforcement method.
Ensure you have suitable training aids or equipment to hand, such as clicker, harness, lead and so on. Once your dog is performing a certain task reliably, you can start to ask him to do this in a 'real' situation.
You can train a dog to perform almost any task with clear, concise commands and a suitable reward. Tasks fall into two categories:
1. Tasks that provide your dog with the behaviour necessary for him to fit into society and keep him safe, such as:
- Socialisation with other dogs and people
- Come/recall command
- Sit, stay, down
- Walking to heel
- Retrieving objects
2. Tasks that are just good fun, including:
- Giving paw
- Shutting the door
- Catching a ball/treat
Training your dog is an excellent way for you to bond with your dog and ensure a strong and healthy relationship. To find out more, watch our video.
About the Purina PetCare Advice Centre
The Purina PetCare Advice Centre brings together a team with in-depth knowledge, experience and special interests with the skills to advise about health and nutrition, behaviour, training, socialisation, as well as basic first aid for your cat or dog. Our team of dedicated pet lovers can also provide information about Purina products and services to help you give your pet the best possible care. If you've got a question about any aspect of pet care, then ask the Purina PetCare Advice team.