You’re proud of the new member of your family, that furry four-legged creature that is full of unconditional love, and that will be with you for years to come. All too often, though, a new puppy or dog can wreak havoc on your home, yard, and neighborly relationships. For the sake of a happy home life and a contented puppy, dog training is a necessity. The right approach, combined with professional dog obedience training, will ensure that your newest family member will fit right in. Here are four secrets that the pros use for success.
1. Who’s the Top Dog?
By nature, dogs travel in packs, with the alpha dog as the leader of the pack. There can only be one alpha dog per pack; otherwise, chaos would ensue and the safety of the pack would be in peril. Your dog needs to understand that you are the alpha dog of the pack. You communicate that to your dog by exerting your leadership, such as taking him for a walk when you come home from work or by successfully completing a dog obedience training course together. You also exert your alpha dog status by controlling your dog’s food. When he knows that you feed him twice a day, it reinforces your position as top dog.
2. Consistency is Key.
Virtually every dog trainer will tell you that humans are generally at fault when dogs don’t successfully learn commands. That’s because dogs see the world in black and white, whereas humans see the world in shades of gray. For humans, “Come” and “C’mon” mean the same thing; a dog, on the other hand, may understand “Come” but is clueless as to what his owner wants when he says, “C’mon.” Whenever you want to modify your dog’s behavior or teach it a command, use a consistent vocabulary and tone.
3. Mutual Respect Leads to Obedience.
A happy and healthy human-canine relationship is based on mutual respect. Your dog respects your position as the alpha of the pack and you respect his needs. Contrary to what you may read, respect and obedience do not grow out of a package of doggie treats, nor do they grow out of fear. Excessive rewards and excessive sternness will lead to erratic behavior, while appropriate praise and correction will lead to respect.
4. Timing is Everything.
Timing comes into play in various aspects of dog training. The adage, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” isn’t entirely correct, but it is much easier to train a puppy than it is an older dog. Some people make the mistake of engaging their dogs in long, drawn-out training sessions. As young children, the attention spans of dogs are relatively short, and fun 15-minute lessons are more likely to bring results than hour-long drills. Timing is also key when establishing your alpha role. For example, the alpha dog eats first, so you should feed your dog after you’ve finished with your meal.
Dog training is a necessity, but it doesn’t have to be a chore. Regardless of the location of your dog training — Chicago, San Francisco, or Miami — you should find a dog trainer that both you and your dog enjoy, and work with her or him to make your new family member feel right at home.