Dog training: The foundation

As with all things, before you can start doing a thing, you have to understand the foundational principles of the thing. The better your understanding and application of the principles, the easier it will be for you to train your dog!

First thing you need is a basic understanding of how dogs work. Dogs are simple creatures, generally happy, and usually react predictably. Take some time to do some reading, or video watching, to get a handle on dog behavior.

Second thing you need is patience. While dog training is fairly simple, your patience will be tested, not because the dog wants to ‘test you’, but because there is a fundamental gap between our communication and theirs. So always remember to breathe, relax, and work through the steps only as fast as they’re being met!

Third, you have to be consistent. Dog training is about providing feedback after a behavior, and you have to be consistent with that feedback, and on which part of what behavior, or it won’t make sense to the dog and they’ll just let it go. Consistency means giving the same type (positive or negative), and level (small, medium, or large), of feedback each time that behavior is performed so the dog gets it.

Fourth, you need precision. The lazy need not waste their time here as lacking precision will only create problems for the dog, and the trainer. Precision means providing the right feedback (type and level) at the right moment, and in the right order. For example, you cannot punish a dog for breaking a rule AFTER you’ve given them ANY command and they’ve followed it, that just confuses the dog!

Fifth, you need persistence. Dog training is not something that happens immediately, or overnight; it takes days, weeks, sometimes months to train behaviors into, or out of, your dog. Potty training should happen 5-10 times a day, manners should happen all throughout every day, and basic obedience training should happen twice a day for a month to be effective.

If you’ve gone through the five pillars of the dog training foundation and feel like you have what it takes, then let’s get started!
If not, please consider consulting a professional trainer; your dog, and your patience, will both be better for it!

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