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Why dog training is so important

Looking to train your dog or puppy? Or perhaps you’re interested in starting a dog training career? Here we cover the why and the how of training dogs, with a few top tips and tricks along the way. 

Why do dogs need training?

Training provides a number of benefits for both dogs and owners:

1. Dog training provides mental stimulation for dogs

Dogs are intelligent animals and don’t cope well with being bored. Training provides dogs with mental stimulation. This, along with the right amount of physical activity, will help a dog to feel happy and relaxed at the end of every day.

2. Dog training builds a solid relationship between dogs and owners

The right kind of training enhances the relationship between dogs and owners. A training session in which lots of positive interaction takes place can be a real bonding experience.

3. Dog training encourages good behaviours

When you train a dog, you encourage the behaviours you want to see. A dog left to their own untrained devices will develop bad habits that might make them difficult to live with (such as barking, chewing or aggression.)

4. Dog training makes life easier and more enjoyable for both dog and owner

A well-trained dog can run off the lead, socialise with other dogs, behave well around people and experience a range of different environments.

Likewise, an owner can be confident of keeping their well-trained dog safe and under control wherever they choose to go.

What are the key elements of good dog training?

So what makes dog training effective? All good dog training has the following key elements in common.

  • Training is a fun experience for both dog and owner. Short but regular sessions that end on a positive note are best.
  • Training takes place in a familiar environment without distractions. Dogs aren’t hungry or tired when training.
  • Training is built around rewards, not punishments. A dog should never be frightened or physically forced into doing something.
  • Training style and rewards have to be consistent. Consistently rewarded behaviour will be repeated.
  • A dog trainer or owner needs to have patience. Dogs find some behaviours easier to master than others. If you get frustrated, the dog will pick up on your stress, which makes learning more difficult.

What different types of dog training can dogs do?

Obedience training

This is the kind of training that most dogs undergo as puppies. They learn to sit, stay and come when you call them. Here are some varieties of obedience training:

Reward-based training

In reward-based training you reward your dog each time they demonstrate a desired behaviour. The reward could be a treat, a favourite toy or just lots of praise. Rewards will help a dog to enjoy the process of training and learning.

Whilst good behaviour is rewarded, bad behaviour is ignored. That way a dog doesn’t get attention for unwanted behaviour and is less likely to repeat it.

Once a dog has mastered a particular skill or behaviour, you can offer rewards on a random basis, whilst always offering lots of verbal praise.

You can then also practise behaviours in a variety of different situations. A dog may behave well in familiar surroundings at home. But they’ll need time to master their skills when faced with new environments and distractions.

Clicker training

Clicker training is a form of reward-based training. You use the clicker and offer a reward each time a dog demonstrates a desired behaviour. Clicker training has a couple of key benefits:

  • With a clicker, you can pinpoint the exact moment of good behaviour. When there’s a delay between behaviour and reward a dog can end up feeling confused.
  • If you’re working with a dog who loves foodie treats as a reward, a clicker can help to avoid obesity. Fewer treats are needed once the clicker is seen as a reward in its own right.

Behaviourist training

This type of training is most commonly used with older dogs. It’s often a form of rehabilitation, helping dogs to curb the unwanted behaviours we mentioned before – like aggression, chewing and excessive barking. 

They may have picked up bad habits in the current home. Or they may have had bad experiences in the past that influence their current behaviour. 

A dog behaviourist with knowledge of dog psychology is best qualified for this type of training. Behaviourists recognise what a dog is feeling from their behaviour and body language. They can then develop a training plan that will help them feel happier and overcome bad behaviours. 

Agility training

Agility training is when dogs practise moving through obstacles like tunnels, seesaws and weave poles. It can be a fun and stimulating hobby for dogs. However, it should only be attempted once a dog is at least one year old. 

Advanced training

Dogs who are going to work in a particular role need advanced training. Here are some examples of the speciality training dogs can do: 

  • Therapy training: Dogs are taught how to provide comfort and affection to people in care settings. 
  • Search and rescue: Dogs are taught how to seek out a missing person.
  • Assistance training: Dogs are taught how to support someone with a disability.

Ready to learn more about dog training?

If you can see yourself in a dog training career or want to offer the best possible training to your own pets, it’s time to get some training yourself! 

Check out our dog psychology, training and care course. You can learn at home and at your own pace, whilst being instructed by the very best industry professionals. Read about our dog training course or download our course brochure to find out more.

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