The Basics of Dog Training

Basics of Dog Training

Basset Hound

Basset Hounds are notoriously hard to train. Having owned one I know from experience. Picture by Nena12 of Morgue Files

Any sort of dog training starts with basic discipline. If you do this correctly then you will have a well-mannered adult dog. If you don’t, you are likely to have a dog that is pushy, jumps up at people, begs from the table, sleeps on your furniture, digs up plants in your garden, messes in the house, and possibly even bites.

Disciplining a puppy

Whether you are disciplining a child or a puppy, the most important thing to remember is that when you say “no” you need to mean “no”. Consistency is absolutely vital.

The first time you see your new pup doing something he or she shouldn’t be doing you need to start the discipline. This might mean the puppy is chewing something, pooping in the house, going somewhere that is a prohibited area, or digging in the garden … anything that you do not want the dog to do.

Often a loud “no” will do the trick. Puppies don’t like loud noises and they will quickly link “no” to discipline. You can also use other phrases, like “look away” if dogs stare at you when you are eating, for example. It’s probably more the tone of voice, but it’s a phrase they pick up very quickly.

Not all puppies respond immediately to voice training however, and smacks then become the order of the day. While you don’t want to beat an animal, a firm smack with your hand, or better still with a rolled up newspaper (because it makes a really loud noise) is the next step you should take. If you think this is cruel, just think of how you will respond when your dog gets big and starts wrecking your garden, or wees on your new Persian rug! The worst approach is to allow puppies to get away with destructive and inappropriate behaviour.

But – and this is a big one – when your puppy stops being naughty (for example drops the satin cushion she was chewing, or the leg of lamb he stole off the kitchen table), then you need to give praise. The two work hand in hand. It might sound like a contradiction, but your pup will be happy to hear a kind voice.

Just don’t ever call a dog to you using a pleasant voice and then try the punishment. Yes, you will have situations when the animal runs away, but that’s your problem. You cannot call the dog sweetly and then whack it. If you do this, the punishment won’t be linked to the bad behaviour. So tread carefully.

House training

One of the first types of training you will need to do with a new puppy is house train it. Unlike horses, puppies won’t wee and poo in the place that they sleep. Instead they will go anywhere else – and they won’t know that a Persian rug or the wall-to-wall carpeting in your bedroom is the wrong place unless they are trained.

The easiest way to house train a puppy is to anticipate when it wants to do its business. It’s usually easy enough to keep puppies outside during the day, but if the pup is sleeping indoors, then choose an area where you can put down newspaper – because there will be mistakes during the night.

If you see a pup is looking for somewhere to wee or poo (and it really is quite obvious when they do this), take action and either chase it or pick it up and take it outdoors to the area that is an acceptable doggy toilet. If you don’t get there in time, you need to make the pup realise that this is not acceptable behaviour. Rubbing a pup’s nose in its own wee has worked for decades. The poo part isn’t as easy, but somehow they do link the two.

Chewing problems

Puppies chew and sometimes older, more mature dogs do too, especially if they have never been trained not to.

But chewing is, for dogs, a natural and beneficial form of behaviour, and it plays a very important role in their development. So when it comes to training, it is not so much teaching the dog (or puppy) not to chew, but teaching it what it is allowed to chew.

People sometimes give dogs old shoes and slippers to chew, but it is better to find a dog toy, like the Classic Kong, otherwise you may well find that you adult dog will continue to chew shoes and slippers, and not necessarily those that are old!

Janek Szymanowski is a talented professional photographer and designer who has had more than 30 printed books published, and has contributed to many more. Born in the United Kingdom, he has lived in South Africa for most of his life, and has a wealth of experience that spans a wide range of different media types and styles. Janek illustrates books and designs client media, but also builds websites, including several of his own. He is passionate about inspiring people to be creative and to assist them in learning new crafts.