Training Your Dog or Puppy

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Tags: Puppy 101, Health

Training Your Dog or Puppy

CRATE TRAINING

Training a dog to spend time in a crate is going to be more difficult if he is grown rather than starting as a puppy. The dog may feel isolated and anxious with this new activity and may display frustration, whining, pawing, whimpering, scratching at the crate and perhaps chewing on it to seek freedom.

There can be many reasons to crate train an older dog. There are times your dog cannot be watched and he may display unacceptable behavior. There are times when he needs to sit in a crate so he will not disturb guests in your home. A crate is often needed when you are traveling and the dog needs to feel comfortable in his small space for a period of time.

If there is a need to do crate training with an older dog, there are techniques to help accomplish this task.

  • First, make sure the crate is a comfortable size for your dog. The dog should be able to stand, sit down, turn around and lie down comfortably.
  • Make sure the crate is safe, with no sharp edges or protrusions and nothing your dog can ingest.
  • Make sure the crate is dog-proof. Use a crate that is tough and can take some chewing and scratching.

Once you have a crate for the dog, begin your training by putting familiar items inside to draw your dog’s attention. Your dog will be attracted to a blanket he sleeps on, familiar toys or snack foods you put inside. Close the gate and let him stay for a few minutes. He may get restless right away. If that is the case, let him out and try this technique again later. As he begins to adjust to going inside the crate, leave him for a few minutes at a time and walk away. He will need to spend some time in the crate without activity around him, so this will begin his training process.

You might want to feed your dog in the crate. Wait until the dog is done eating before letting him out. Get him used to being inside the crate for longer periods of time. Once he has been fed in the crate a few times, you will need to teach him to enter and exit the crate on your command. As you hold onto his collar, place him at the entrance of the crate. Pull him into the crate and say the command “bed.” Place your hand on his backside to keep him from backing out. If you need to, lift him into the crate. After he has been inside the crate for a few moments, say “okay” and motion for him to come out. Try again a few more times and practice this routine every day until he goes into the crate on your command. As you practice with your dog to go into the crate on command, he will begin to accept being enclosed in the crate as well.

Your dog may look forward to going into the crate if you offer him special toys only when he is inside. After training the dog, stop putting food or water inside to prevent spillage and messes that can occur.

If your dog persists in making whining or howling sounds, you can try shaking something loud at him, such as a can of pennies, clapping your hands loudly, or spray water on him as you say “quiet.” In time your dog will learn to be in his crate quietly.

HOUSE TRAINING

If you are bringing an older dog into your family you may find that the dog hasn’t been properly house-trained or that accidents are occurring. You don’ t have to do paper training on the dog, like with a puppy, but your techniques need to be similar to training a puppy to be effective. An older dog has the ability to hold their bladder for longer periods of time, so it’s a little easier in that regard. However, you will have to monitor the dog for a time, taking him outside in the morning, evening and after eating meals. You’ll need to wait for him to do his business and also watch while he is indoors to keep him from unacceptable behavior in the house.

Sometimes a dog can smell urine in a new home from a previous dog that you cannot see or smell. Urine can get down into the pad of a carpet and be undetected by your nose. There are inexpensive UV lights that can be purchased, such as that will show bright yellow spots where urine is present in a dark room. This will help you detect and deep clean those spots so they are not a tempting place for your dog to relieve himself.

Sometimes when a dog is moved into a new house, he is confused and can have accidents. Don’t scold him after the fact, but if you catch him in the act, you can say, “No!” and move him outside so that he makes the proper connection.

Occasionally a dog will simply have an accident. He may have been distracted when taken outside or even too excited to concentrate on his purpose, and then suddenly needs to do his business while back in the house. Clean it up quickly and try to monitor his potty times better the next time. Usually it will be an isolated incident. If not, revert to the techniques you used with him as a puppy – taking him outside frequently and even keeping him in a crate or a pen inside the house to control accidents.

Visiting dogs may trigger an excitement in your pet that causes an accident. The dog may then return to that spot if it is not thoroughly cleaned up and the odor is gone. Let visiting dogs play outside, if possible.

Older dogs may have more accidents simply due to old age and less bladder control. If you have a constant problem with this, check with your vet for ideas on how to fix this problem. There may be a medical problem that can be fixed. Even a change if diet can create a bladder problem. There are also and available if you are concerned with frequent accidents.

One other option is to place the dog’s feeding dish in the area he has chosen to urinate. Dogs don’t like to do their business in a place where they eat or sleep. If the problem continues to persist, you may want to obtain professional training.

LEASH TRAINING

Training your dog to be on a leash is important for the safety of your pet, to keep him from getting into altercations with other animals, gives him boundaries of behavior and teaches him to be obedient to his master. If your dog has not been used to a leash, he will most likely balk at the restrictive feeling it brings. However, a dog can be trained at any age to be on a leash.

The first part of the training is to make sure your dog is used to wearing a collar. If he has roamed free for many years, he’ll get used to wearing a collar, but may try to scratch at it and get it off until he is more comfortable with the added weight. In a few days, he won’t notice the collar and it will be time to introduce the leash.

Attach the leash to his collar and drop it on the floor. At first, your dog may be intrigued by this item and try to play with it or run away from it. Leave it attached for a few minutes, then take it off. Later in the day or the next day, attach it again and see how he reacts. If he doesn’t have any particular reaction, it’s time to pick up the leash and tell your dog to “come.” Gently pull the leash towards you and lead the dog. If he pulls back or jerks, hold the leash tight and stand in place. When he calms down, praise him. Repetitive action is what will train your pet. Just be consistent and calm.

If your dog begins to jump in excitement when you put on the leash, you’ll need to stand calmly until he stops jumping. At that point, praise him. If you get excited when he’s excited he may think he’s being praised for jumping and reacting in that manner. Wait until he calms down and then bend down, pet him and praise him. Your dog may begin to associate the idea of a leash with going out for a walk, which most dogs love to do. Many dogs become excited with the simple sounds of his master moving a leash around and he will come running.

When you begin to take your dog for walks, he may run and try to pull ahead. You can curb his excitement by holding him back, gently but firmly. Stay in one place for a moment until he is calm. When he has settled down, take a few more steps and let him sniff and roam a bit. If he pulls and tries to run ahead again, stop and hold him back. If he continues to repeat this behavior, take him back home and try his walk the next day. He will begin to react to your directions.

Regardless of the age of your dog, with consistent and clear training techniques, your dog will begin to respond and walk calmly on the leash.

SIT TRAINING

Dogs of any age can be taught to sit. It just takes a little patience and a few clever techniques. Begin with a handful of treats that your dog likes. Put a leash on your dog so that you have him in front of you.

Holding a treat in one hand, place it close to your dog’s nose, but out of reach of him jumping up and grabbing it. Move the treat slowly up over his head. The plan is to lure him into the sitting position and use a hand signal to do it, as you say, “sit.” As soon as he sits, say “yes!” Give them the treat and praise them gently so that they will not get too excited and jump up. Release them by saying “okay.” Do not give out a treat at this time or you will be rewarding the action of getting up. Repeat this process a few times for a few days and your dog will begin to understand your command.

Another way to teach your dog to sit is to have the treat in your hand and push his bottom to the floor while you say “sit.” You need to immediately give him a treat to reward his behavior. When he sees he is rewarded, he will respond as you continue to practice this teaching method. When he responds consistently to your command to sit, he will expect a treat each time. This will be the time to back off on rewards and praise. Only praise and reward him every third time. As you praise him less and less for sitting on command, he will begin to obey without being rewarded and you will have accomplished your goal.

TEACHING YOUR DOG TO COME

Most dogs are eager to be with their masters, so teaching them to come is not too difficult. A “teenage” dog is still more of a puppy and may think you just want to play and romp, so he may run back and forth. Let him play a little, then get down to business.

First, you will need to put a collar and leash on your dog if he is fairly active. Without holding the leash tight, stand a few steps away and call “come!” Praise him when he comes to you. You may even want to offer a treat to the dog a few times and praise him when he comes. When you repeat this exercise over and over, it will become natural for the dog to obey. As your dog begins to obey regularly to this command, remove the leash and cut back on the treats and praise. Praise him and offer a treat about every third time he obeys. Cut that back to more times in between and eventually no treats or praise. Your dog will learn to obey just because you command him to come.

The objective is to teach your pet to be a great, pleasant companion who will obey your commands. You, the owner, need to have authority over the dog. Keep in mind, however, that that dogs can become easily distracted, so be patient with them as you train them and keep working on the same techniques. Practice these techniques and you will be rewarded with a happy, healthy dog.

TEACHING EYE CONTACT

Teaching eye contact to your dog can provide a way to have a quick response to your commands and if done properly, it will be easy and beneficial. It is a great way to gain control quickly to protect your dog, order restraint and basically command obedience when it is needed. With some patience and practice, your dog will be giving you eye contact when you call his or her name.

Dogs tend to respond better to movements than when you are standing still and working this exercise. Have a few treats with you in a pocket or in your hand where the dog cannot see them. Call your pets name and move quickly away from the dog. Immediately give praise and a treat when the dog moves with you. When you hand out the treat, place it between your eyes and the dogs eyes. Your dog will be looking at the treat, but will also see your eyes. In time your dog will be giving you eye contact because of the association with the treat. Praise the dog each time an eye contact response is given, and give a treat randomly.

You’ll need to practice this sequence several times. Make sure you do these activities in this order: say the name of the dog, move quickly so that the dog follows your movement, give verbal praise, pull out the treat and show it between your eyes and the dog’s eyes, and then give the treat. This is an activity that will happen quickly. Use treats for a period of time, then consider using a favorite toy to keep the pattern the way you want it to be. Alternate between giving a treat, giving a toy or only giving praise.

Your praise is important to the dog. Make sure it is included each time you try this activity and do this process in different places to establish the pattern of eye contact whenever it is needed. When you are receiving the same response each time, add some activity and noise to the area where you are teaching your dog. The dog needs to learn to give you eye contact even when there are distractions. Practice with small distractions for a period of time, then add greater distractions.

Make sure to reward the dog every time eye contact is made and the correct response is given. When you continue this practice, life with your dog will be much easier.

TRAINING EQUIPMENT

Training your dog from an early age will give you the best desired results if you are consistent and patient. Untrained puppies or dogs will think you want to play unless you use patterns of training, a lot of praise and some treats as a reward. You will need a few items to help you in the training process, however.

Begin with a well-fitting collar. You should be able to place two fingers between the collar and the dog’s neck. Otherwise it is too tight or too loose. Let the dog get used to the feel of a collar. It may make the dog itch at first, but over a short period of time the dog will be used to the feel of the collar.

There are choke collars available for specific training methods for dogs that are more active and not as responsive to your training. Be sure to understand how to use these collars so that you are not hurting the dog. The choke collars are designed to abruptly stop the dog from misbehaving and get him back under your control.

A good leash is also necessary for training. Dogs do not like being confined, but it is necessary for the purpose of training that you hold your dog on a leash. Your dog will become accustomed to being on a leash pretty quickly. Use it for training and for taking your dog for a walk, and the dog will actually get excited about the leash when you pull it out.

A training clicker can be an effective tool as well. Your dog will respond to the sound of the clicker, if it is accompanied by a command, a treat and praise. Over time, the treats can be eliminated, but keep the praise coming for a long time. Eventually, your dog will respond to the sound of the clicker and your command because of your training methods.

Of course, an important training tool is tasty treats. Make sure you have small treats that your dog loves on hand when you work with him or her. This is important for the success of your training and your dog will love you for it.

Another valuable tool is a training video for your particular breed. There are many DVD’s available to help with training methods. With all these easily available to you, simply add time and patience for a well-trained dog that will respond to your commands, be safe and become a very pleasant companion.

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