Novice dog owners should consider changing their pet’s name and combining hand signals with verbal instruction to train four-legged friends and improve their behaviour.
Pet specialists from PurePetFood.co.uk have released a seven-step guide to help Brits train their dogs to follow commands properly.
Puppies or new dogs need to be taught commands before they can be expected to promptly and consistently respond to human instruction, so a team of experienced dog lovers have put together their best advice for novices.
A spokesperson for PurePetFood.co.uk said: “Most Brits love to spoil their dogs with love and attention, but to keep new pets safe and control their behaviour, they need to be taught clear commands as well.
“Training sessions should be short and fun but with a serious purpose – your dog ultimately needs to respond as desired when he or she is given an instruction.
“So, to help UK dog owners who may be inexperienced or struggling with training, we’ve revealed seven of our top tips for successfully teaching a new command.”
Here are the PurePetFood.co.uk list for training pet dogs:
1. Start as soon as possible
The earlier you start to train your new pet dog the better. Set out house rules, such as if they’re allowed on furniture or in certain areas, when they’re young or first move in and then start to think about commands.
Dogs will respond best to a consistent and clear command, but don’t try to train them when tired, too hot, dehydrated or really hungry.
2. Consider his or her name
A long or unusual name might be fashionable or well-loved in the family, but shorter names with a strong ending that you can emphasise are better for training lively pups.
Good examples include Archie, Barney, Bella, Buster, Chester, Charlie, Dexter, Ernie, Jasper, Lola, Oscar, Rosie, Ruby, Sadie.
It’s possible to change an older dog’s name too – they’re adaptable and will respond the same if their new name is used frequently and consistently.
3. Be patient
Remember that it’s impossible for a dog to understand a new command until they’ve been properly taught it.
If a human hears a word they haven’t heard before, such as in a foreign language, they can’t simply guess the meaning and instruction until it’s revealed and reinforced – it’s the same for dogs trying to learn what their owner’s instructions mean.
Only teach one new command at a time to avoid any unnecessary confusion and don’t chase a dog when you want him or her to come to you – they may think it’s playtime.
4. Practice at home first
Before taking your dog out into a busy public area like a park to practice commands, practice in a calm and quiet home environment.
Try to minimise distractions until your pet shows an improved understanding of your instructions, before gradually moving into the garden and then the great outdoors.
Use hand signals as well as your voice to train your dog – some pets could respond better to visual cues than vocal ones, or both together.
5. Don’t use force or punish
Never punish a dog with aggressive shouting or any form of physical abuse, that could be painful or frightening.
If your pet is proving unruly or not listening, simply give them the cold shoulder until they calm down rather than telling them off. If they’re not paying attention to training, stop and try again later.
Don’t try to physically coerce dogs into following your instructions either. Instead remember that you have to show dogs commands – it’s an education.
6. Reward randomly
Once you’re confident a new command has been well learnt, start to reduce the number of treats or rewards used to reinforce it – but always keep sessions fun.
It’s still crucial to verbally praise every positive response, for example good boy or girl, but start to give rewards randomly rather than every time as their behaviour improves.
This will reinforce the fact that they should be responding to your call or instruction, rather than just being tempted by rewards like food, a ball or cuddles.
7. End with a real treat
Find a long-lasting chew or treat that your dog loves to end a training session with, otherwise he or she may become frustrated when the rewards stop and not want to practice commands again next time.
Alternatively, follow up serious training with a session of play, such as fetching a ball, lots of big cuddles and petting, or dinner.