Teaching your dog with confidence and respect
The first thing that any successful animal trainer must do is win the confidence and respect of the animal to be trained. This important piece of advice definitely applies to the training of dogs. As social pack animals, dogs have a natural need to follow a strong leader. Setting yourself, the owner or handler, up as this leadership figure is the basis of any successful dog training program.
Until your dog has learned to trust and respect you, it will be difficult for any training program to be successful. Trust and respect are not things that can be forced, they must be earned through positive interaction with your four legged companion. After the dog has learned to trust and respect the owner, he or she may be amazed at how quickly the training sessions progress.
Many new dog owners mistake love and affection for trust and respect. While it is of course good to shower your new dog or puppy with love and affection, it is also improtnat to gain its confidence and respect. It is also important to not allow the puppy or dog to get away with everything it wants to. It is easy to let a dog take advantage of you, particularly when it is so cute and adorable. It is important, however, to set boundaries, and to establish acceptable and unacceptable behaviors.
Dogs actually appreciate these types of boundaries, since they are similar to the rules that the pack leader establishes in nature. Every dog in the pack knows what is expected of it, and knows its place in the pecking order. This kind of structured hierarchy allows the pack to function, hunt and survive as a single entity. Your dog is actually seeking this type of leadership. If he or she does not get leadership from you, he or she may be frightened or confused.
In addition, failure to gain the respect of the dog is very important to the well being of both the human and the dog. A dog that lacks respect for its human owner can be dangerous as well as hard to live with. It is important to establish firm boundaries of good and bad behavior, and to consistently, effectively enforce those boundaries.
When dealing with a puppy, it is important to start gaining his respect and trust as soon as possible. Establishing an early bond is the best way to move the treaining and socialization process forward.
It is also important to make the initial training sessions short. Puppies have a notoriously short attention span, and even older untrained dogs may be unable to focus for more than 10 or 15 minutes at a time. It is best to make the lesson short and positive than to stretch it out and create a negative experience.
It is also a good idea to start and end each session with a period of play. Starting and ending the training sessions on a high note is important. Dogs make quick associations, and creating a positive association with obedience training will help to create a happy, healthy and well adjusted dog. A happy dog will be easier to train, and more willing to please.
It is also important to keep the dog from becoming bored during the training sessions. Many dog owners make the mistake of drilling the dog on things like basic obedience skills, heeling, sitting, etc. While these obedience skills are important, and it is true that they will form the basis of more advanced skills, it is important to mix things up and make things fun for both yourself and your dog. The more variety you provide the better your dog, and you, will enjoy the training sessions.