Dog and Puppy Training: Do I Really Need to Train My Dog?
Whether you are adopting a puppy or visiting a certified breeder, you should have a general idea of what you are signing up for. Getting a dog is assuming a serious long-term responsibility, likely 10 to 15 years, and a large part of that responsibility is training and upbringing.
The principles that dog and puppy training are based on are largely the same. The most substantial difference is that when you are starting with a small pup, you are at a great advantage because dogs are much more open to training and adopting good habits during puppyhood, of course.
Dog ownership and training are long-term commitments, and there are quite a few things that make up the whole process. We will get started by delving into the basic but crucial bits of information such as puppy potty training tips, how to crate train a dog, and how to bolster overall discipline and lay the proper foundation early on.
This information will work as a first-time dog owner guide, but the information we are about to cover will go a long way past that as well.
Understanding Dog Training
So, how does dog training work and what are the best ways to train a dog or puppy?
The one best way to train a dog is without a doubt the method of reward and positive reinforcement. This approach is more contemporary and offers a much more effective method than what was used decades ago. The way it works is fairly straightforward and easy to take up by any dog owner, no matter how amateur he or she might be.
- One of the core principles here is that your dog should be shown which actions and general behaviors are desired by providing a reward when such actions are taken by the pet.
- Furthermore, it’s about creating a positive association in your dog’s mind between a particular action and a reward, and then reinforcing it.
- That reward can be a number of things that are very dear to every dog’s heart. These include favorite snacks or treats, both physical and verbal affection, and anything else that your particular dog might have a liking for.
In the simplest terms, the process of teaching anything to your dog through this method consists of these consecutive steps:
- demonstrate the proper behavior to your dog or puppy and assign a cue word if needed
- present a reward
- and finally repeat until no reward is necessary anymore.
As we explore the following bits of fundamental training, as well as obedience training and commands in the coming weeks, you will find that the concept is very simple and accessible in practice.
How to Crate Train a Dog
While some people may object to crates and keeping a dog locked in, there is no denying that crate training is an incredibly powerful tool for controlling and training your pet. It’s also very helpful if you are having trouble housebreaking or potty training your pup, as we will explain a bit later on. It’s certainly worth mentioning that there is very little room for moral objections if a dog has been crate trained early on through positive, encouraging means.
How crate training for dogs works is also hardly a difficult science. It’s all about starting early, taking advantage of a dog’s natural denning instinct, and using positive reinforcement and encouragement. The best way to crate train a puppy is to let the pup get interested in the contraption of her own volition.
To start with, you should leave the crate open in a puppy’s familiar environment and see if it treads inside on its own. If the dog does this, you are off to an excellent start. If your pet doesn’t comply, however, it just means it needs a bit of encouragement.
For this incentive, you will make good use of your dog’s favorite food or treat and any toys it likes and feels comfortable with. The right thing will attract any puppy into the crate, but don’t rush to lock the dog up right away.
The key is to make all this a positive experience and gradually make your pet accustomed to the crate. After a while, the puppy should independently explore and sniff around in the open crate to find the treats she got used to. Slowly but surely, you can begin to close the crate for short periods, which should be extended over time. In the end, you want to practice leaving the room for a few minutes at first, until your dog gets used to staying crated alone.
Over time, the crate won’t just be a means of control but a refuge and a safe place where your puppy willingly goes.
Puppy Potty Training Tips
The best way to potty train a puppy is with a lot of patience and understanding. You must keep in mind that this can be a prolonged process with quite a few failures because puppies younger than four months are naturally prone to accidents.
From around that mark and onward, however, nature will be on your side. As dogs grow older, they not only develop good control over their bladder and bowels but they also develop instincts that keep them from eliminating where they sleep and eat.
The good, old-fashioned way to potty train a dog is to take him out frequently to a familiar, comfortable place in your yard and provide ample opportunity for the bathroom business. Make sure that you reward every good behavior with a treat and a lot of praise.
Around that four-month mark, most dogs will be able to go an entire night without going to the bathroom, which means you will be able to take yours outside in the morning and evening to bolster a good habit, as opposed to multiple times a day. If a puppy has become used to a certain yard location before growing to four months, however, it is very likely that it will start asking you to go out first thing in the morning.
If you can’t dedicate entire days to potty training and want to minimize accidents at random places in the house while training, your dog’s crate will be of great assistance. Your pup’s anti-potty instincts will be at their strongest when it is in its den, which allows you to control when you want to take the dog outside. Even better, you will be able to take note of the specific times of day when your dog usually has to go, as well as discern how long it usually takes after a meal.
Promote Discipline with Food
This brings us to a very important brick in the wall that is overall dog discipline – a regular and well-defined eating schedule. This helps a lot for obvious reasons, and it is one of the more overlooked puppy potty training tips that you should certainly consider. Eating discipline is crucial for a number of other reasons, though, such as it lets your puppy know who is in charge from early on and gives structure to a dog’s life.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that rules are harsh. The more rules there are in your puppy’s life the better, as long as those rules are reasonable, of course. Understand that dogs thrive on rules and structure, and control and discipline are, above all, in their best interest.