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5 Dog Training Tips for a Great Family Dog

Our dogs are our loyal companions, best friends, protectors and exercise buddies. They are such an integral part of our family that it’s vital they understand the behaviour that is necessary to integrate well. 

Unfortunately, some pets are not properly trained by their adopted families and this can lead to antisocial behaviour and even abandonment in extreme cases. Ensure that your pup fits in fast with dog training tricks and tips for educating a great family dog from some of Australia’s leading dog trainers. You’ll be bonding with your new family member in no time.

1. Don't Treat Your Dog Like a Human

The dog trainers at Command Dog Training School like to remind clients that their dog is not a person, so they shouldn’t be treated like one nor expected to respond like one. Instead, they encourage you to try to communicate with your dog in a way they can understand, using hand signals and short, simple cues.

It’s important that you make sure that your dog understands that you are the pack leader, as most dogs prefer to be led. This means starting as you mean to continue and gaining their respect early on and maintaining it at all times.

Continue to train your dog on new things throughout their entire life. It’s an ongoing process and needs to be tweaked and updated regularly, say the Command dog trainers.

Meet the trainer: Command Dog Training School is committed to continuous self-improvement for both themselves and their clients – both animal and human. The dog training courses range from basic puppy training through to advanced behavioural classes and agility and obstacle courses.

They recommend that all puppies undertake ‘Kindergarten Puppy Training from as early as 10 weeks as this establishes an early foundation and shapes temperament.’
2. Set Clear Boundaries

You need to set boundaries with your dog from the very beginning. As hard as it might be, ignore behaviours that are attention-seeking, like whining or barking to be let outside or to get you to play.

Your dog will try to test those boundaries, so you need to be firm. One of the biggest tests could come in the form of demanding pats, which can be very tempting. But as Jordan Dog Trainers advise, ‘Giving into these behaviours erodes your dominance by letting the dog dictate what it gets to do.’

Also, try to avoid using your dog's name as a cue, unless it is to get his attention. Instead, use a specific signal like ‘sit’ or ‘stay’ for each behaviour. Using your dog's name over and over with every signal can be very confusing for your pup.  Meet the trainer: Specialising in both dog and human body language, the self-proclaimed ‘dog whisperers’ at Jordan Dog Training focuses on how the two interact. They emphasise that boundaries should extend to meal times and treats saying that ‘premium quality food is essential’. They recommend limiting meal times to 15 minutes, then put away any leftovers for the next meal to keep them from spoiling and reduce waste. 
3. Burn off Excess Energy

Give your dog plenty of exercise, both on the leash and off. Burning off excess energy results in a reduction of antisocial behaviours like excessive barking and destroying property while you are away. Dog Trainer Ric Calder, recommends at least 30 minutes a day for small dogs, even longer for bigger dogs and more energetic breeds.

A big issue in the family home can arise when your dog chews on things you wish they wouldn't. If you’re home, take whatever they have decided to chew on away from them immediately, and replace it with an appropriate chewing item, like a bone or a toy.

Make sure that your dog has a variety of toys to play with, and teach them new, more complicated tricks regularly. Providing mental stimulation for your canine helps as well.

Dogs love to jump up on people to say hello, but most people do not share affection for this behaviour. To discourage your eager pet, turn your back every time they try to jump on you. Only turn back around when they have stopped.

If they try to jump again, turn away again. Repeat this cycle until they have stopped jumping, then offer lots of praise to reinforce the correct behaviour.

Meet the trainer: Ric Calder's training methods are centred on a philosophy he calls Least Intrusive Minimally Aversive (LIMA). This involves avoiding any training methods that may harm or cause fear in dogs.

This philosophy is backed by Ric's formal education in Dog Psychology and Training and 10 years of experience in the pet care industry. He finds using gentle, reward-based training to be the most successful in achieving acceptable family-friendly behaviour.

4. Socialise Your Puppy

The trainers at West Coast Pet Care Centre say that ‘there’s no replacement for good socialisation’. If possible, expose your dog to as many different scenarios as you can while they are a puppy. Introduce them to adults, children, other dogs, cats, noisy machinery, bicycles, and any other objects your dog is likely to encounter in the future.

Part of this is also educating your friends and family on the rules you have set for your dog. It is not helpful to the training process if your sister comes to visit and immediately invites your pup up onto the couch when you are trying to train them to do the opposite.

Focus on rewarding positive behaviours whenever you see them. Over time, it can be easy to fall into the trap of reprimanding your dog when they do something wrong, but forgetting to reward them when they do something right. Try to offer frequent praise for positive behaviours, even if it is something as simple as reclining calmly on the floor.

Meet the trainer: What started in 1994 as a dog and cat boarding centre has since evolved into premier dog training establishment, West Coast Pet Care Centre. They run training programs for both group and one-on-one scenarios to suit the individual dispositions and needs of their clients and dogs.

While it’s good to socialise your dog young, if they are still exhibiting behavioural problems later in life, West Coast Pet Care Centre also offers advanced training to help with issues like aggression, food guarding and separation anxiety.

5. Behavioural Training

Founder of Pawsitive K9 Behaviour, Dog Trainer Hannah Ruess advises that dogs learn more effectively from winning, than losing. It’s this unpinning philosophy which governs her technique for behavioural training.

Whether you’re in the process of puppy training or trying to teach an old dog new dog training tricks, positive reinforcement of new behaviours can help minimise and eventually stop old undesirable habits.

Ruess suggest you remember that age-old adage, ‘practice makes perfect’, but in this case you want to prevent your dog from ‘practicing’ antisocial behaviours. For example, every neighbourhood has one dog that runs up and down the fence yelping at everyone who passes.

Once this behaviour in ingrained, it’s very hard to break, so you need to stop this behaviour every single time it occurs. This coupled with removing environmental temptations – the dog shouldn’t have access to the fence without your supervision – and a lot of positive reinforcement of good behaviour should result in a calm and happy dog.

Meet the trainer: Pawsitive K9 Behaviour offers personalised one-on-one sessions and puppy training that approaches each dog for what they are – an individual! This means that every dog and their owner receives different methods and motivations to reach their dog training goals.

One thing all students get, however, are effective and enjoyable dog training methods that are science-based and empower the dog to learn.

Your vision for your family dog is clear – a polite, respectful pooch who successfully integrates with society. Give your dog the best chance of success by following the five simple tips from some of Australia’s dog training specialists, and always consult an expert or your vet if you are worried that your dog's behaviour may pose a risk to your family.

Dog training is an ongoing part of a happy, healthy relationship between you and your dog. As a beloved member of your family, your dog deserves protection during and after their puppy training phase. Get the right dog insurance to help protect your four-legged friend.