Seeing our smellydogz jumping and chasing at will is great to watch as we want our pups to have as much fun as possible. However, it is necessary to know how to train your dog so that they have a set of commands to follow when needed.
Start training for basic commands such as Sit, Stay, Leave it, Stop, Come here early on after adopting your pooch. It is best to pick the method that suits you both, as consistency will bring success over time.
There is much debate within the dog training community over the most effective or ethical way to train dogs. It pays to understand why particular methods work and more importantly if they will work for your smellydogz.
Here are some popular training methods that you can use:
1) Positive reinforcement
Trainers Zak George & Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz use positive reinforcement to condition good habits, which is a part of the operant conditioning way of training. If you’re wondering how to train your dog without using coercion or force, this could be your go-to technique.
The concept is to reward good behaviours while holding back reward for bad behaviours, increasing the repetition of wanted actions.
Key concepts in positive reinforcement
- Reward good responses within 10-15 seconds, so your dog can associate the actions with rewards.
- Consistency is a major success factor, all family members in the household should use the same commands and rewards.
- Offer treats consistently in the beginning, moving to an intermittent frequency when the wanted behaviour becomes regular.
- Avoid rewarding undesirable behaviours accidentally. For example: instead of using a treat to draw Bailey away while he is chewing away on your phone, ask him to come over or stop and give him a reward when he complies.
Positive reinforcement works with unwanted behaviours as well, but it takes time and patience to achieve optimal results.
2) Clicker Training
A study held at the University of Bristol found that using rewards was more successful as a training method in comparison to using forms of punishment to modify behaviour.
Use the clicker as a precursor to treats or praise
Clicker Training is similar to positive reinforcement whereby instead of just food, this dog training method uses the sound of clicking or whistling before offering snacks. The sharp sound of the click or whistle lets your smellydogz know they are on the right track and something good is on the way.
The differentiator of clicker training is that you can point out desirable actions immediately. Forming an association with the clicking noise and reward makes it easier to introduce verbal commands.
The effectiveness of clicker training in curbing unwanted behaviour is still under debate. If your pup has developed troubling habits, it is a good idea to use other dog training methods in combination with the clicker or whistle.
3) The Model-Rival Method
Developed from the research of Irene Pepperberg, the Model-Rival dog training programs rely on an animal’s ability to learn through observing examples.
Animal behaviour expert Patricia Mcconnell demonstrates the Model-Rival method with her super adorable dog Willie in this video. She notes that this form of training is as effective as positive reinforcement.
If your smellydogz won’t leave your side and loves watching your every move, this method might do the trick.
How the Model-Rival Method works
- This exercise requires two people, if you are playing trainer you will need another partner in crime to act as a “model”
- In the video above, Willie is the observer and he learns what to do by watching the model being praised or reprimanded based on behaviour
- The model can also be presented as a rival to compete for your smellydog’s favourite toy by accomplishing the right tasks, encouraging your pup to “mirror” them and win the prize
4) Alpha Dog Training Programs
Cesar Milan is one of the most popular dog behaviourists in the world, this video of him redirecting an overprotective Rottweiler has 6.2 million views on YouTube! The composure with which he faces the barking and aggression is impressive because that is a pretty big Rottweiler!
Cesar is an expert of Alpha dog training, which often comes under scrutiny for being outdated. However, the effectiveness of this technique in getting aggressive dogs to comply has been demonstrated by Cesar on quite a few occasions.
Why the Alpha Dog method works
- This training framework assumes that our smellydogz possess a primal wolf-instinct, seeing their human family as their pack, and every pack has a dominant leader
- If you have a dominant dog, it’s important to establish yourself as the pack leader, meaning that your pooch has to submit to you as the Alpha
- The key is to be confident and in control by establishing rules such as “humans eat first” and walking ahead when your dog is on the leash. Generally, dogs won’t be allowed on the furniture when using the Alpha dog training methods
- Have your pup comply with commands such as Sit or Stay before they can eat, or have them obey commands before taking them out for a walk to establish yourself as the pack leader
Assuming the Alpha Dog role can help dog parents curb bad behaviour. However, the dominance struggle can become a bit too much to handle for children and elders.
Cesar Milan himself uses this technique in combination with other methodologies. Constant reinforcement of the Alpha Dog persona can cause anxiety and put stress on your furry friend, so watch out for signs of tension and nervousness.
Which method is the best?
If you want to know how to train your dog, the simple answer lies in understanding what your pup responds to best. There is some promising research into dog training methods that focus on the relationship between parents and their smellydogz.
No matter which dog training program you choose, unwanted behaviour is addressed most effectively by facilitating your pooch's transition into a happily compliant state of mind.