How to Train a Dog the Right Way

Are you wondering how to train a dog? There is a lot of contradictory information on the web and sometimes it can get very confusing. As a general rule, always follow positive methods and do not apply anything that makes you uncomfortable.

Whether it is potty training, leash training or manners, I will tell you what the key concepts you need to know are to overcome most dog behavior problems.

The information is simple, the hard part is to follow through with dog training! As a general rule, if a dog is not doing something right…it's most likely the human's fault.

The good news: you can learn what to do and help your dog or puppy understand and follow your instructions. It's all about to communication, but intra-species communication. To accomplish this, we need to learn the tricks of universal learning. How do dogs learn? how do they communicate? Find it all here!

If something is not working,

try a different way of training it.

To learn how to train a dog find out how animals learn.

how dog training works, how to train a dog

Dogs and all animals learn through the principles known as Classical Conditioning, Operant Conditioning and Extinction.

When you read about these principles you will notice that animals learn with both rewards and punishment. So, how to train a dog? with punishment or with rewards?

Rewards, of course! Forget about electronic collars, choke chains or any other form of punishment.

Why punishment is NOT the best option?

It's inefficient:

  • When you punish an animal for something he did wrong, you are not giving him information about how to do it right! The dog must keep guessing without clues. Training with punishment will take longer.

When you use rewards, you are telling the animal exactly what it is that they did correctly and they will repeat that behavior to get more rewards!

  • Most animals are smart enough to find loopholes in rules taught by punishment. For example, dogs will learn to obey everything you say on leash, but as soon as the leash is off, they don't respond any longer.

When you use rewards you are creating a positive association with the correct behavior. You canine friend will want to do it even off-leash…and even without food! (Learn here how to use food treats the correct way).

  • Most people can't give a true punishment because it is too harsh. For example, if the jerk on a leash was not hard enough! Would you give a harder one? Probably not, because you don't want to accidentally hurt your pet. In the end, our canine friends get many mild punishments that are not enough to stop the behavior. 

Instead give a reward for the correct behavior. What if the reward is not good enough? would you go higher? Yes! because the worse that can happen is that you are just pampering your furry friend!

  • The use of punishment makes us, humans, believe that it works when it really doesn't. For example, you jerk and the dog instantly stops pulling (this feels rewarding to us)but he stops pulling only for a few seconds! (You were fooled). You were reinforced by jerking on the leash, you think it worked when it really didn't.

When you use rewards the right way, you will also be reinforced when you see the behavior you want happening more often!

  • Punishment can cause dogs to shut down, be shy or use aggression themselves. If you keep punishing your pet because he can't get it right, the dog might shut down and stop responding at all. Imagine you are learning to play an instrument and the teacher slaps your hands when you do something wrong. How many classes do you think you will endure before giving up?
    On the other hand some dogs might react aggressively when punished and this can put you in danger.

If you use rewards the exact opposite happens, your pet will feel joy during training sessions! He will actually feel joy in every aspect of his life. Positive reinforcement makes us and the animals feel good and learn at the same time!

That said I would like to make a clarification. You will be using punishment, mostly inadvertently. Punishment is defined as something that when given reduces the likelihood that the behavior will happen again. There are some things your dog might not like, for example, when you hug him or when you completely ignore him.

Focus on the positive way, rewarding good behavior. And as for punishment, yes...ignore your dog when he does something bad.

how dog training works, how to train a dog

To learn how to train a dog discover different training methods.

How to train a dog the right way? With positive training methods!

  1. Luring: Make your pet follow a piece of food to show him what to do.
  2. Capturing: Wait for your furry friend to do the right behavior and then praise him!
  3. Shaping: To train complex behaviors, reward your pet for different approximations to the end goal.
  4. Clicker Training: Use a noise maker to make communication even more clear.
  5. Targeting: Teach your pet the command touch and they, like luring, use it to show your dog what to do next.

You can use them all! Each one will be good for each different situation.

To learn how to train a dog understand dog body language.

I always say that dog training is a little bit of teaching and a little bit of understanding. You are teaching your pet some English, but in return you need to learn how to speak dog!

Do you think barking is the way dogs communicate? Before any sound comes out of their mouth, they have a full set of body postures that can communicate many things. You can learn about them to understand your dog and anticipate his needs. This can be extremely useful to prevent dog fights or attacks from your dog or directed at your hound.

Now that you know how to train your dog try a few different commands:

Sit, Down, Stand, Stay and more!

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