Rewarding your dog is the best motivator when training. It is well known that using rewards and other positive reinforcement when obedience training a dog is the most effective method and achieves the best results.
You can make obedience training fun for the dog – and yourself too – by making a game of it. This makes both your dog and you, as the trainer, more willing and motivated to give it your all.
Incorporate a period of play at the start and the end of each training session to ensure that the session ends positively.
Teaching your dog to heel is the most basic of all the obedience commands. This refers to having the dog walk along with you on a loose lead.
Heeling is generally the first obedience behaviour taught to a dog, and it is easy to teach this using reward training.
Begin the training by getting your dog a good training collar and lead. Make sure the collar is strong and fits the dog properly. If you don’t know how to fit the collar, ask a dog trainer or the pet store manager when you buy your training equipment.
As you start to walk with the dog, be aware of the dog’s position in relation to your own. If the dog begins to get ahead of you, pull gently on the leash.
This will engage the collar and provide the dog with a gentle indication that he should slow down. You may have to apply more pressure in the beginning until your dog learns to accept the discipline.
If the dog falls behind, slow down and encourage the dog to come forward. Use a lure or the dog’s favourite toy to teach him to walk by your side.
If you keep the lure at the position you’d like the dog to be, he will learn quickly to walk in the correct position.
Always give your dog lots of praise, treats, toys, and other rewards when he or she does what is expected. Dogs learn best when desired behaviour is rewarded in a positive manner.
Positive reinforcement means that when a dog does what the trainer wants, the dog receives a reward.
This can be a pat on the head or a treat or toy of some kind. If the dog shows even the slightest attempt to please you, especially at the beginning of training, you should lavish positive reinforcement on him or her.
It is much less effective to attempt to train a dog through reprimands and punishment.
Dogs become discouraged and confused by too much punishment. You may have to reprimand the dog sometimes to correct a potentially dangerous behaviour.
For example, chasing cars or biting must be punished, but the reprimands must be direct, short and directly linked to the bad behaviour.
After the immediate danger is over, training should go on, based on the reward method as before.
Dogs must learn to associate rewards with good behaviours and reprimands with undesirable behaviours. It is difficult to change any negative associations once they have taken hold.
It’s easier to train the dog properly in the first place than to try and retrain him later.
You should teach your dog to associate behaviours like coming when called, heeling, and sitting on command, with the happy and fun times you shared during training.