The key to owning a well-trained dog is to start off on the right track when he is a puppy. If you have an adult dog, however, who has not been trained or whose manners leave something to be desired, then he needs to be taught the basic areas of obedience.
This article explains how you can train your adult dog in the basics of good manners, from walking to heel on the leash to sitting, staying and behaving well in the house.
Some people take these things for granted, expecting a dog to be aware what is needed of him, but that isn’t the case.
He has to get to know your way of doings things, while you have to get to know him and what makes him tick.
Walking on a leash without pulling is an important skill for most pet dogs.
Even dogs with fenced-in yards occasionally go for leash walks and at the very least go to the vet each year. Many pet owners adopt adult dogs or older juvenile dogs from rescue and humane organizations, and these dogs often lack leash training or may have developed poor habits, including leash biting, pulling, and jumping.
We now address the concepts and control tools for basic training of adult dogs. Leash training adult dogs is in accordance with the same concepts as training them to obey the sit, down, and stay routines.
Adult dogs should be started on the leash as if they were pups without any training.
To reward a dog for proper behavior, it is advisable to determine an adequately encouraging reward. These include food, a ball, or a squeaky toy. Although praise from the owner can be paired with a stronger reinforcer (like food) to eventually lessen the need to carry food, praise alone, particularly when the dog and owner have no preceding relationship and the dog is learning new things, is not a sufficiently enticing prize.
Furthermore, while food is a potent reinforcer for most dogs, some will respond only to highly tasty rewards, like freshly cooked chicken.
Once an effective reward has been discovered, it’s time to pick the correct tool for control (ex. collar, leash) for the dog. In most cases, head collars offer the most reliable and humane control of dogs on leash. Most dogs can be trained to accept the head collar by use of positive reinforcement and short training sessions.
Though individual dogs may appear bothered temporarily, there’s no factor in the physiologic stress response in dogs wearing a head collar as opposed to those wearing a buckle collar.
Head collars may not be suggested or applicable for every dog. Owners who jog or bike with their dogs in summer should steer clear of their use because they may prohibit panting.
For individual dogs that withstand the collar, “no-pull” harnesses may be useful. Like head collars, these devices work by creating mild discomfort when the dog pulls. Traditional harnesses commonly are not suitable for dogs bigger than the toy breeds, which don’t pull as strenuously as larger dogs. Training a dog with a traditional harness can be done, but it provides more challenges than the other control.
Training or “choke” collars are typically not suggested for a number of reasons. First, they’re generally used inaccurately by pet owners who lack the skill and timing to utilize them efficiently.
Second and more critical, badly fitted choke collars sit at mid-neck and can lead to tracheal compression and coughing devoid of inhibiting pulling. In comparison, head collars and “no-pull” harnesses don’t require a lot of skill or outstanding timing.
They simply act as “power steering” and are relatively simple, efficient tools for the average pet owner.
The leash that the owner chooses isn’t as essential as the collar, harness, or reward. However, owners who are teaching a dog to walk on a lead without pulling should steer clear of retractable leads. Although these can be fantastic for trained dogs, they can be counterproductive in beginners simply because, by their design, they promote and reward pulling.
In addition, all of the devices listed above tighten up with the pressure of a retracting leash, which in effect “corrects” the dog continually even if he’s walking relatively close to the owner: when an “unlocked” retractable lead is utilized with a head halter or some of the devices already stated, the dog will encounter discomfort when in the correct position and when pulling. This will confound the dog and prevent learning.
It is crucial during the early stages of training to prevent inadvertently rewarding the dog when he pulls. When the dog pulls, you should stop moving, get the dog’s attention, and then reward him (for attending to you). Additionally, whenever the dog is walking quietly next to you or isn’t pulling, he should be compensated, perhaps by being petted or allowed to play. Well-meaning pet owners often forget to reward appropriate behavior.
Positive reinforcement is a vital component of training: It serves to boost the strength of the dog’s response plus the likelihood that he will continue to be encouraged to walk in the correct position. Whenever dogs are told what is “wrong,” they must then be informed what is “right” so that they realize what is expected.
Teaching your dog to come to you when you call him, commonly called as recall, is the key lesson you can teach him. A dog who responds promptly and consistently when you call him can enjoy liberties that other canines can’t. He can play in the dog park, hike with you in off-leash parks and keep out of trouble in many situations.
Even if you never plan to have your dog off his leash, unexpected things happen. Collars break, leashes slip, gates or doors are unintentionally left open. When any sort of accident happens, having a reliable recall may well save your dog’s life.
Teaching a dog to dependably come when he’s called isn’t necessarily easy, though. Some canines do seem more naturally willing to come when called. Usually these are inferior dogs who never want to wander far from you, or they’re dogs that are so encouraged by your attention that they find coming to you really rewarding.
The majority of dogs, however, must be taught to come when called. Even though you might take more time teaching this behavior than any other, the huge benefits make it worth the investment.
Regardless of how much effort you put into training, no dog is ever going to be 100% reliable at coming when called. Canines aren’t robots. They’re like people in that they’ve their good days and their bad days.
Occasionally they don’t notice you calling, sometimes they’re focusing on something else, sometimes they misread what you want, and quite often they just decide that they would rather do something else. And, let’s face it, sometimes the training we do is either inconsistent or perplexing.
There are breed differences in train-ability with regards to the recall. Hounds, for example, are infamously challenging to teach this behavior. Some sight hounds, like whippets and greyhounds, aren’t highly motivated by the usual rewards, like dog treats and toys.
They often require more creative incentives-furry toys that move quickly or fantastic tasty treats. Scent hounds, such as beagles and bloodhounds, tend to be so sidetracked by the smells around them that they can be unaware to your calls. This isn’t to say that these breeds can’t be trained to come when called.
They certainly can -but you’ll have to be more patient and unrelenting when training them. Regardless of the breed you’ve got, the purpose of training is to ensure your dog understands what you want him to do when you call him and to build a strong habit of coming when called so that he’s less prone to settle on something else.
The Name Game
Your dog can’t have a good recall if your pet doesn’t recognize his own name. You want your dog to learn any time you say his name, he’s supposed to turn and look at you-and then he’ll get good things.
Begin training at home while you’re reading the paper or watching TV. Make sure there aren’t any distractions to compete for your dog’s attention. Say his name in a clear voice and, right away, him a treat or toss him a toy. Wait a few minutes and then repeat this again. Do this 10 to 20 times, not consecutively but with breaks of varying short lengths between each repetition.
Wait until your pet is looking away from you. Say his name. If he turns to look at you, say “Yes!” and give him several yummy treats or play with him. Keep making a fuss over him for a minute or so. Then ignore him until he loses interest in you.
Say your dog’s name again. If he doesn’t turn and look when you say it, refrain from repeating it. Instead, turn and get away from the room for a few minutes, or go to a corner and play with the toy yourself or make a show of eating his treat yourself.
Repeat the training three to five times uninterruptedly, and practice it often over the course of several days.
Progressively bring in distractions: practice in various rooms in the house, out in the yard, on walks and at the park. Practice while your pet is playing, eating, grooming himself, sleeping, and so on. He’ll learn that when you say his name, something fun will happen.
He’ll also discover if he doesn’t focus on his name, he’s missing out on something good. Once you can get your dog’s attention by calling his name, then you’re ready to start training the recall.
What NOT to Do
By no means call your dog and do something he doesn’t enjoy, like bathing him, clipping his nails, yelling at him or even ignoring him. If you need to do something your dog doesn’t like, simply go and get him from wherever he is. He should always have confidence in that something wonderful happens whenever you call him.
Stay away from repeating your recall cue. If you reiterate “Come, come, come,” repeatedly and your dog doesn’t respond, you’re just teaching him to ignore your calls.
Prevent calling your dog to you when you know he’s unlikely to comply. If he’s playing with another dog, running to greet a friend or chowing down his dinner, he’s not going to come running when called.
Every time you call your dog and he doesn’t come, he learns to disregard your call. As an alternative, set him up to succeed by progressing through your training in small steps so that he gets in the habit of always coming when you call.
For starters, socializing an adult dog looks totally different from socializing a puppy. Puppies in their vulnerable period are usually accepting of new people, places and dogs, so training them to feel at ease around them is pretty easy. Most puppy owners simply expose them to new stuff each day, giving wonderful treats at the same time, to make each interaction a pleasant one.
By doing this, the puppy will retain those happy images even after the sensitive period of socializing concludes. Continued subjection to new stimuli through the first year can keep the process rolling along smoothly.
Dog-to-dog socializing is an often misinterpreted concept. While puppies can be let loose with each other to learn how to socialize, the same practice can have harmful effects on adult dogs.
While there’s always an exception, socially mature dogs (between 1-3 years, with regards to the breed) don’t typically enjoy playing with large groups of unknown dogs. They may either seek to avoid the canines, stand close to their human or even growl and snap at energetic young dogs that come too near to them. Such conduct is often misidentified as excessive, when in fact it’s very common.
So what does dog-to-dog socializing look like when it entails adults? The goal must be to teach the older dog to behave calmly in public places and on walks, instead of “play nicely” at the dog park.
Bring plenty of small, tasty treats on your walks and reward him for sitting calmly and responding to his name while other dogs pass by at a safe distance.
It is not required or advised for him to “say hi” to each dog he encounters, or indeed to acknowledge any pet. Introducing dogs on leash is usually tricky, as many have to interact on tight leashes for too-long time periods, leading to leash reactivity.
If he should bark at another dog, just get his attention and walk him off the situation. Once he’s calm, you can carry on your walk.
In essence, socialization of any sort only benefits dogs if they find it pleasurable. Teaching your adult dog appropriate behavior and protecting him from undesired contact will go a considerable ways in building a trusting rapport.