• Dr. Claire

How to train your dog

Updated: May 2

Training your dog is a great way to improve and strengthen your relationship, it develops loyalty and improves the bond between a dog and their owner. It also makes it easier for you to manage your dog when going to the vet as you will have greater control over your dog.


The best way to train your dog is using ‘Positive Reinforcement’. This means your reward your dog for doing the correct behaviour. This is far more effective than punishing your pet as when you do this your animal does not know why you are hitting or shouting at them and will simply be afraid of you rather than understand their wrong doing.


With Positive Reinforcement, when you dog does the correct behaviour they learn that they will get a reward, which makes them more likely to carry out this “good behaviour’. This also makes dogs enjoy training and greatly increases the bond with their owner. Examples of rewards to give your dog can be a treat such as biscuits or a little bit of meat, access to a toy or else positive attention such as petting the dog and praising them in a happy, higher pitched voice. Some dogs train better with different rewards so it a good idea to try them all and see which you think you dog responds best to. If your dog is not doing the correct behaviour, do not scold them, simply ignore the wrong behaviour and try again to get them to do what you want and reward when they get it right!


A great way to start training your dog is to train them to come when you call their name, it is simple and will help you and your dog get used to using Positive Reinforcement.


Basic Training


Walking on a Leash

Start by getting your dog and appropriate collar or harness and leash. Small puppies may need time to adjust to the weight of a leash, you can do this by attaching the leash and letting them walk around indoors dragging it.

When you are ready to start training your dog, attach their leash, begin walking and call your dog to follow, if they do, reward them with praise and a treat every few steps. If your dog tries to pull or drag away from you, stop walking and wait for your dog to stop pulling. When they do, resume your walk and continue to praise them for walking by your side.


Sit

Get your dogs attention by standing in front of them facing them. Have some treats ready and put one in your hand. Allow the dog to smell the treat. Hold the treat in front of the dogs nose, and slowly move it towards the back of their head and say ‘Sit’. When your dog sits down, praise them and give them their well earned treat!



Lie Down

Start with your dog in their Sit position. Using a treat, let them smell it by placing it at their nose, once you have their attention and they are remaining sitting, slowing drag the treat towards the ground while saying ‘Down’, once your dog is laying down, praise them and give them their treat.


Stay

This is the hardest to teach your dog and should only be attempted once your dog is able to sit and lie down easily. It is easiest to teach Stay by having your dog lie down, then say in a slow and steady voice ‘Stay’, and show your dog the palm of your hand, like a stop sign. Only watch a couple of seconds before rewarding your dog. This can be repeated over time to gradually increase the duration of the Stay but patience is key!

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