When you first adopt a dog, it is important to train him or her to follow certain commands in order to build a bond that will last a lifetime. With a little added time and attention up front, your dog will soon learn the ropes in his or her new digs while you enjoy relaxing and playtime fun with your bestie. Not sure where to begin? Try incorporating these three training methods to see which is your dog’s favorite way to learn.
Use a Low and Clear Voice
When beginning your training sessions with your newly adopted dog, it is important to note a higher-pitched sound makes your dog excited and a lower sound results in more attentive listening. Think of it this way. If you walk into a room with a young child and use a higher voice to ask him or her to perform a task, your request may be taken as a joke or playful suggestion. Therefore, using a low voice at a normal volume will help your dog understand you are trying to communicate something important as opposed to using your higher playtime or reward voice.
Another thing that you can do when speaking commands is to clearly annunciate your commands. Mumbling, slurring, or inconsistently pronouncing a command may be confusing to your dog. The same could be said for inconsistent whistle sounds or slightly altered hand signals. Unfortunately, he or she cannot reply with a, “What?” Hence, the dog may just ignore your command altogether or perform another task. This is not meant as a slight against your authoritative role. He or she simply cannot understand the request. Of course, if you have to repeat the command a third time, there is a clear disconnect and your dog likely needs more time, patience, and consistent training to learn the command.
Give Clicks and Plenty of Praise When Earned
Once you know how to use your voice, hand, and/or whistle commands to grab your dog’s attention, you are ready to check out different rewards that will increase your dog’s desire to perform tasks and continue training. Clickers can offer rewards by sound. The beauty of the clicker is it can be used every time your dog performs the desired task following your command.
Praise training, on the other hand, can add more energizing incentives to the training process. It may not always seem like it when tasty treats are around or your dog gets distracted, but your dog’s greatest joy is to be with you where he or she is at the center of your attention. Such moments will bond you together and you will want to pet your dog with your excited voice and body language often. But, be careful. Your dog will associate your praise reward with whatever action was just performed. This includes his or her body language as well as the task that he or she was focusing on performing. To avoid rewarding, and therefore encouraging, the wrong behavior, resist the urge to pet your dog or speak to your dog in a high or excited voice until he or she has performed your command in a calm and friendly manner. Then, once the dog is obediently following your command while remaining calm, feel free to unleash your enthusiasm for a job well done!
Sometimes, the clicker or praise training techniques are not enough to maintain your dog’s focus when teaching a new command. Training treats or tiny bits of your dog’s favorite treat can be used in conjunction with the clicker or praise to help your dog remain attentive to your instructions and the commands that follow. Treats can also be useful when leading your dog to sit or get into a specific position by holding the treat in such a way that the dog must obey the command in order to be within close range of receiving the tasty reward.
When using the treat training technique, be sure not to over-feed your dog and try to wean your dog off of the treats as he or she learns the command. This weaning process can be done by keeping your treats in your pocket and limiting the number you give him or her as you increase the number of click or praise rewards for all good behavior.
Does Breed Matter When Selecting a Training Method?
All dogs want your love, pets, praise, and undivided attention. That said, some dog breeds and individual personalities may take longer to learn a new skill than others. It is always a good idea to adopt a dog whose personality matches yours and is ready to accompany you through all your favorite dog-friendly activities like your morning runs or evening chill sessions on the couch. The skills will come with time, consistent training without a lot of distractions, and patience. If you are ready to begin your search for a dog who is eager to spend time with you, check out our adoption page frequently to view our list of lovable furry friends who cannot wait to meet you!