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A Dog Training Handbook - Part 3

Dog Training Basics for Happier holds

In this article you'll find information on – how to get your household ready for dog training success:


In this handbook, we’ll teach dog’s human companions - that’s you - some lessons in cohabiting for dog obedience and mutual happiness, health & wellbeing. 

 happier household



Why Are We Training You First?

Welcoming a furry canine friend into your home is a commitment that requires you to invest years of taking on responsibility, but offers the highest returns of any investment – loyal companionship. Your canine housemate needs to be nurtured with good nutrition and hydration, regular grooming and health care, regular exercise, shelter and somewhere comfortable to sleep. Provided the basics are in place, your puppy will welcome some dog obedience training basics.

Just like us, dogs thrive when they understand what the boundaries of acceptable behaviour in and outside of your home are. A well behaved pet dog is a happy dog. A happy pet that is adaptable and easy to be with whatever the situation makes for a happy household.Dogs are eager to please their pack. To gain your approval, your puppy needs to know what you expect from him or her across a full range of situations.

Setting aside regular, focused time for obedience training with your new puppy is a fantastic way to strengthen your special bond early. Training time can be rewarding for everyone involved.The Royal Society Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) recommends consistent, positive reinforcement or reward based training as the most effective way to teach your dog right from wrong when it comes to acceptable behaviour. 

...and the benefits? Endless in terms of the moments of joy you’ll all share with your four legged housemate. But the greatest reward for your commitment to training your dog is more than a decade of easy companionship with someone that simply wants to please you.

“When the Man waked up he said, ‘What is Wild Dog doing here?’ And the Woman said, ‘His name is not Wild Dog any more, but the First Friend, because he will be our friend for always and always and always.'”

—Rudyard Kipling author of The Jungle Book
 

If you are looking for a comprehensive dog training solution, or to correct problem behaviours in your dog, make sure you consult a professional. Your local vet, RSPCA, a good quality dog kennel, a puppy training school or an experienced dog behaviourist or trainer could help.In this handbook, we’ll walk you through some dog training basics so that sharing a home with your canine family member is a happy experience for everyone involved.
 

A quick refresher on rewarding your dog

Reward based training can be an enjoyable time together for you and your dog. Schedule short but focused, regular training sessions of no more than 5 minutes at a time, and around 20 minutes in total each day.Rewards can include dog friendly food treats, kind words, an encouraging tone, a walk, a play, a favourite toy or even a tummy rub. A positive outcome in recognition of acceptable behaviour is a reward.

Clicker training is a popular reward based obedience training method which is often used along with treats. A clicker is a small handheld object that makes a short, sharp ‘click’. It is used to confirm with your pet dog that he or she has just done exactly the right thing, and that a treat is coming their way! The benefit of a clicker over your voice is that the tone and volume is always consistent.For the purpose of this guide, we’ll incorporate clicker based training in to each lesson. Everyone loves a gadget, and a clicker makes positive reinforcement a little easier.
 

How to use this basic dog obedience training guide

Obedient-dog2Once you work through the basic dog care activities below and define SMART goals for each, add them to your online calendar, with an automatic reminder. You’ll reach auto-pilot in caring for your puppy or dog well. Your dog will thrive and will be a very willing learner when all his or her pet care needs are met.Regularly scheduled obedience training sessions will be valuable for you and your dog if you are clear on what your goals are, and work through this guide lesson by lesson.

Don’t rush puppy obedience training by trying to teach your dog all the commands in one go!Work through each lesson one at a time. Once you’ve mastered the first lesson, move on to the second lesson. Patience truly is a virtue when it comes to dog obedience training.When you are out and about with your dog, there will be distractions galore to contend with.

To live happily together for the rest of your dog’s life, you must be prepared to commit to reinforcing basic obedience training across a range of situations and varying levels of distraction. 

LOW LEVEL DISTRACTIONS INCLUDE WHEN:

  • another person is present
  • a favourite toy is in sight
  • someone walks past
  • someone is talking close by
     

MEDIUM LEVEL DISTRACTIONS INCLUDE WHEN:

  • a medium to loud noise is heard
  • you are not facing your dog
  • you are further away
  • you are not standing above your dog but are sitting or lying down
  • you have food or a favourite toy in your hand
     

HIGH LEVEL DISTRACTIONS INCLUDE WHEN:

  • you have visitors or are with other people
  • there are other dogs present
  • other people are interacting with your dog
  • a ball or favourite toy is being thrown
  • food is accessible
  • there is a lot going on around you
     

A RANGE OF SITUATIONS INCLUDES:

  • inside your home
  • outside of your home in the front yard – often the distractions are greater in your front yard
  • outside of your home in the back yard
  • away from home – for example at a leash free dog park
  • when you have visitors in your home, or in your yard
  • when you have young children around your pet dog
     

For each of the dog obedience training basics lessons below, make sure that you practice each lesson in varying ranges of situations and distraction level until you are confident that your dog understands what is expected of him or her.

To successfully master these dog obedience training basics, it is a good idea to draw up a chart that includes each of the five basic obedience commands, followed by the full range of mixes of situations and distractions. That way, you can progressively work through these so that you and your dog reach a level of understanding of what is the right way to behave regardless of the situation or level of distractions.
 

Dog Training Basics Lesson #1 : Answering To Name

Once your puppy can respond to his or her name, you have a simple way of calling your beloved canine to attention.

It is important that right from the beginning you train the whole household to only use your dog’s name as a way to gain his or her attention, but not to scold.

Being able to get your dog’s attention by calling their name will make life easier for you at your local leash free dog park. There will be calls of ‘sit’, ‘come’ and ‘stay’ everywhere. You’ll want to differentiate getting your dog’s attention from all the other wagging tails.
 

Remember: kindness toward your pet dog is not about being soft on obedience. Neglecting to equip your dog with some obedience training basics will create stress for your pet, for you and for your human loved ones.

 

Step 1 : Reward your dog for answering to his or her name

  1. Have your positive reinforcers ready: have your clicker and a handful of healthy treats in your pocket.
  2. Say your dog’s name: use a clear but consistent tone and volume.
  3. Click and treat: but only if your dog looks at you when you say his or her name once.
     

Step 2 : Repeat and reinforce across a range of situations and distractions

Success is when your dog looks at you in a situation outside of your home with a high level of distraction. It will take practice and patience to achieve this.
 

Dog Training Basics Lesson #2 : 'Come'

labrador-recall2Once your dog knows exactly what to do when you say ‘come’, you’ll be able to command your way out of the most precarious of situations.Responding to ‘come’ is a good solution to distract your pet dog from unwanted behaviours such as eating a bloated toad fish washed up on the beach! 
 

Step 1: Reward your dog for moving towards you and then reaching you

  1. Have your positive reinforcers ready: have your clicker and a handful of healthy treats in your pocket.
  2. Put a treat on the ground: let your dog eat the treat and then walk a distance away from your dog.
  3. Put a treat in your hand: if your dog isn’t looking at you, say your dog’s name while you are holding out the treat.
  4. Say ‘come’: when your dog is looking at you, say ‘come’ in a calm and clear voice. Only say it the one time. 
  5. Click: the minute your dog moves toward you. Offer positive encouragement like ‘good dog’ as your dog comes toward you.
  6. Treat: on reaching you, give your dog a treat while you touch your dog’s collar.
Touching your dog’s collar will mean that should you ever be caught in a situation where your dog may be in danger, you can easily ask your dog to ‘come’ and then take hold of your dog’s collar – and your dog will not be surprised and try to break free.
 

Step 2 : Practice responding to the command 'Come' without  a treat

  1. Have your positive reinforcers ready: have your clicker and a handful of healthy treats in your pocket.
  2. Put a treat on the ground: as per Step 1 above.
  3. Pretend to put a treat in your hand: hold out your hand as though you have a treat in it. If your dog isn’t looking at you, say your dog’s name while you’re holding out your empty hand.
  4. Say ‘come’: when your dog is looking at you, say ‘come’ in a calm and clear voice. Only say it the one time. 
  5. Click: the minute your dog moves toward you. Offer positive encouragement like ‘good dog’ as he or she comes toward you.
  6. Treat: on reaching you, give your dog a treat from your pocket while you touch your dog’s collar. 
  7. Repeat: repeat Step 2 five times or for up to 5 minutes maximum.
     

Step 3 : Repeat and reinforce across a range of situations and distrations

Success is when your dog comes to you in a situation outside of your home where there are tonnes of distractions. Practice removing yourself from your dog’s sight – for example hide behind a tree - and say ‘come’. It will take practice and patience to achieve this but is a useful obedience command to use in trickier situations where your dog may otherwise be in danger.
 

Dog Training Basics Lesson #3 : 'Sit'

How-to-train-your-dog-to-sitHaving your four-legged buddy sit on command can be helpful in situations where you need to distract your dog from unwanted behaviour. For example, if your dog slips into defending territory mode when an unknown delivery person steps through your front gate, having your dog sit on command helps them gain self-control  giving you both time to assess the situation. Fortunately, teaching your dog to sit is one of the simplest commands for you both to master.
 

Step 1 : Reward your dog for sitting

  1. Have your positive reinforcers ready: have your clicker and a handful of healthy treats in your pocket.
  2. Wait until your dog sits and click: as soon as your dog sits, click.
  3. Give a treat: offer a treat while your dog is still sitting. Then throw a treat so your dog has to get up again.
  4. Keep practising: keep practising until your dog is sitting straight after your throw a treat.
  5. Now only reward sitting when you’ve asked for it: from here you need to say ‘sit’ as soon as your dog starts the motion. Then click once your dog is in full sitting position and offer a reward.
     

Step 2 : Repeat and reinforce across a range of situations and distractions

Success is when your dog will respond to ‘sit’ in a situation outside of your home with a high level of distraction around.
 

Dog Training Basics Lesson #4 : 'Down'

Teaching your dog to respond to ‘down’ by lying down is an effective way to help distract and calm your dog. For example, if your dog escaped out of your yard and was heading straight for the road, responding to ‘down’ in time, could even save your dog’s life. It will stop your dog, giving you time to respond to the situation while keeping your dog still and calm.
 

Step 1 : Reward your dog for lying down

  1. Have your positive reinforcers ready: have your clicker and a handful of healthy treats in your pocket.
  2. Wait until your dog lies down and then click: as soon as your dog sits, click.
  3. Give a treat: offer a treat while your dog is still lying down. Then throw a treat so your dog has to get up again.
  4. Keep practising: keep practising until your dog is lying down after your throw a treat.
  5. Now only reward lying down when you’ve asked for it: from here you need to say ‘down’ as soon as your dog starts the motion. Then click once your dog is lying down and offer a reward.
     

Step 2 : Repeat and reinforce across a range of situations and distractions

Success is when your dog will respond to ‘down’ in a situation outside of your home with a high level of distraction around. This is potentially a veterinary emergency bill saving command to practice when you’re away from home and near busy roads.
 

Dog Training Basics Lesson #5 : 'Stay'

dog staySucceeding in communicating what is expected of your dog when you say ‘stay’ can be helpful in situations where you need your dog to stay put while you attend to something else that needs your immediate attention.
‘Stay’ can be tricky basic command for you both to master as it goes against your pet dogs natural desire to stay close to the pack.
 

Step 1 : Reward your dog for remaining in position

  1. Have your positive reinforcers ready: have your clicker and a handful of healthy treats in your pocket.
  2. Call your dog’s name: make sure you have your dog’s attention before you proceed. Tip: if your dog isn’t responding to name, it’s time to take your training back to the beginning.
  3. Ask your dog to take a position of ‘sit’ or ‘down’: you’ll need to have both mastered this command before training to ‘stay’. Once your dog obeys your command, don’t click straight away.
  4. Wait a couple of seconds before clicking: ‘click’.
  5. Go to your dog to reward with a treat: you don’t want your dog to break their ‘stay’ position.
     

Step 2 : Vary the distance and time

  1. Repeat Step 1 above, gradually increasing the clicker time to 10 seconds: as you increase the time between clicks, introduce the command ‘stay’ along with a hand signal to reinforce the command – a flat hand, palm down, about half an arm’s length away from your dog’s face.
  2. Repeat, introducing one step away: now it is time to introduce a gradual stepping away from your dog. Say ‘stay’. Take one step away. ‘Click’ if your dog stays put. Offer praise as you go to your dog to offer a treat. 
  3. Repeat, gradually increasing the distance between you and your dog: your goal at this stage is to still say in your dog’s view. Keep it varied for your dog occasionally throwing in a shorter distance. And remember if you’ve been training for five minutes, it is time to give each other a break.
  4. Repeat, gradually building to one, then two, minutes: your goal should be to practice to the point where your dog will stay for two minutes.
  5. Practice gradually stepping away until your dog can’t easily see you: if you regularly walk your dog to the local store, you want your dog to feel comfortable about ‘staying’ until you come back into view rather than fretting at not being able to see you. It is worth your investment of time to practice ‘stay’ while you’re out of sight, and regularly play games where you hide and practice the ‘come’ and ‘stay’ obedience commands.
If you start feeling frustrated – your dog will most likely be feeling the same way. Take a break and come back to it again later in the day. Short, frequent sessions will be more effective than extended sessions that leave you and your dog frazzled.
 

Step 3 : keep practising and reinforce across a range of situations and distractions

Success is when your dog will respond to ‘stay’ in a situation outside of your home with a high level of distraction around.
 

Your're On Your Way To A Happiness And Good Health

A great human companion for a pet dog is a resourceful human that seeks knowledge in the interest of enjoying a long and happy life of co-habitation together. A well trained dog will bring a lot of joy to your household.

On behalf of all pet dogs thank you for taking the time to find out all you can to train your dog well. Happy households!

Read Part 1 Read Part 2

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After years of research in Australia and the USA, The Pets Hotel is custom designed for your pet’s health, safety and comfort, all in a fun-filled environment - which exceeds the industry Code of Practice.
The owners of The Pets Hotel have 35 years experience in the Pet industry.

The Pets Hotel is the culmination of this experience.

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info@thepetshotel.com.au
Phone: (03) 9646 3696
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