Training your dog can be beneficial to both you and your pet in many different ways. Not only does it help you establish your role as pack leader, but it also allows your canine companion to know what is expected of them in certain situations. This makes it much more easy and convenient to have your pet accompany you on various activities. Going for walks, visiting family and friends, and going about your favorite activities can be quite a hassle with a dog that is untrained.
By being consistent, patient and persevering, you can train your pet to follow you so that the need for leashes is eliminated. First, you must know and understand your pooch’s behavior so that you can effectively communicate with them. Then you can act as pack leader and break their behavior down into small steps, allowing you to achieve the desired result.
Getting Ready for Training
In order to be able to train and communicate with your dog, you must first understand their behavior. Since dogs cannot speak, they communicate through their behavior. Before your dog will follow your training, you must first establish yourself as pack leader. Afterwards, your dog will look to you for direction.
There are a few easy ways to show your canine companion that you are their pack leader:
• Always Eat Before Your Dog Does – The habits and behaviors around food are one of the strongest indicators of pack position. As the leader, you should always eat first. Resist the urge to share your food with your pet. If you do intend to give them any scraps, then you should always wait until you have finished your meal and eaten your fill before giving it to them. Do not let them take food from your plate or climb on you while you are preparing food or eating food.
It is also bad form to allow your dog to stare or beg you for food while it is being prepared or eaten. Whenever your dog performs any of these behaviors, give them a simple and firm “No” command. You may even need to remove your pet to another room during meal times. Give them something to do besides worry about your food, such as “Go Lay Down” or “Go Play with your Toys.”
• You Go First – Do not let your dog set your pace. Take the initiative and set the pace for your dog to follow. If you are walking them on a leash, do not allow them to run ahead and pull you along. Instead, keep the leash short and tight so that they must keep to your pace and walk directly beside you. This can even be applied to going through doorways or up and down stairs, you should always go first.
The long and the short of being pack leader is that you should always go first and be given preference. This shows your canine companion that you are in charge and you are the leader.
When getting ready to train your dog to follow you, there are a few other essential items that you will need:
1. Collar & Leash – These are available in a wide variety of sizes and materials. The type that you choose depends largely on the size and breed of your dog.
2. Treats – Treats are a great way to improve your dog’s motivation when learning something new. In most cases, a dry dog biscuit is not enough to improve motivation during learning. Small, bite-sized treats that are meat flavored do well.
Getting Down to Business
Training your dog to follow is not that difficult, as long as you assert yourself as the master. Consistency is the key to properly training your dog to perform any helpful and entertaining tricks. For your convenience, here is a step by step program to follow once or twice daily.
The first step to training your dog to follow you is teaching them how to walk on a leash. When leash-walking your dog, keep the leash short so that your dog must walk beside you. Your hand holding the leash should be comfortably at your side. Do not allow your dog to run ahead and pull you along, or otherwise stray from the path that you are setting. Set a firm and steady pace, which does not allow them enough time to become engrossed in their surroundings. If your dog becomes distracted, you can keep their attention by holding a treat in your hand for them to follow and giving them the command to “Come.”
After your dog has developed a good walking routine and knows what is expected of them, you can take the next step by teaching them to heel. You may also need to have a treat on hand to reward them when they successfully complete the command. Whenever you are walking and come to a stop, give the command to “Heel” while firmly forcing your dog to follow suit through your firm grip on the leash. Once he has successfully followed through, reward them with a treat.
Once your dog has successfully mastered the etiquette of leash-walking, you can then apply the same principles to walking without a leash. At first, you may wish to start the walk out on a leash and then remove the leash for short periods during the walk. Using the same commands of “Come” and “Heel” while walking without a leash will show your dog that you expect the same behavior regardless of whether or not they are wearing their leash. Continuing to have treats on hand and rewarding good behavior will further help to motivate and encourage your dog to follow your lead and perform as expected.
Training your dog requires time, patience and persistence. By understanding how your dog communicates through behaviors and actions, you can successfully communicate your training to your dog. Once your dog understands when is expected of them, you will find that you no longer need the aid of treats or, in some cases, even to give the commands.