How To Train Your Dog

Understanding Dog Psychology Basics to Perfect Your Pet Relationship

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Photo by Elias Castillo on Unsplash

5 Principles of Dog Training

With all of my dog training clients, I go over 5 basic principles of dog training. I first heard these from Mike Ritland, the man responsible for getting the Navy SEAL/S to begin using military working dogs (MWDs.)

  1. Reward Behavior You Want
  2. Correct or Extinguish Behavior You Don’t Want
  3. Be Consistent
  4. Keep Emotion Out Of It

Be Confident & Carry Yourself Like A Leader

This principle has to do primarily with how dogs respond to body language as well as their desire for hierarchy.

Reward Behavior You Want

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Photo by Bianca Ackermann on Unsplash

Correct Behavior You Don’t Want

As I mentioned earlier, some people believe correction has no place in dog training. However I do not believe reward alone is reliable enough to teach all dogs everything they need. By forgoing even mild correction, you may actually put your dog at risk.

Be Consistent

Although you can and should certainly wean your dog off of reward and behavior that requires correction should disappear, you must also be completely consistent until that is appropriate.

Keep Emotion Out Of It

This point is last but certainly not least. If there is anything that can turn correction into abuse or turn reward into a false motivator, it’s emotion. It’s fine to express affection for your dogs, and being mildly annoyed isn’t a big deal either, but generally you want to be calm and collected.

Tools & Training Programs

The world of dog training is as vast as the day is long, but basic principles dictate dog behavior. No matter what specific methods you employ, there are a set if principles that can guide you.

Training Tools

Always learn how to use training tools properly before implementing them. Some of these can be abused in the wrong hands.

  1. E-collar: Electric collars can be used like prongs to issue a correction. The advantage is you can be extremely swift with correction, and don’t have to be near your dog or holding a leash. Some dogs over-react to the sensation of an E-collar, however. Be mindful of this. If you’re worried about the shock, put it on and shock yourself. It is uncomfortable but not painful. I recommend researching e-collar training methods before using them. Have a plan first.
  2. Martingale collar: Martingale collars are like chain collars but use nylon. They don’t put as much pressure on the trachea as chain collars so are generally more safe. Corrections on a martingale are typically not as effective or strong as a prong or chain.
  3. Clicker and Clicker bag: Clicker and food bag kits are extremely common. You can order them online or get them through a pet store.
  4. Food rewards: I typically use my dog’s kibble for clicker training, but biljac is very popular as well. Supposedly biljac is less likely to lead to weight gain for your dog than treats. Most dog treats have sugars and carbs in them, as well as being expensive. Either way, your dog will be getting more activity via training which should help prevent weight gain.

Training Programs & Resources

Like I said, you can take a course, get on youtube, hire a trainer, or read books to self-teach. I’m always a fan of just getting on youtube and learning everything you can via osmosis. Try things like “Clicker training basics” or “how to train my dog to do (insert desired behavior) using clicker training.”

  1. Team Dog: Mike Ritland’s book on dog psychology. This was my first introduction to dog training and has acted as a base for my methods since reading it. It is foundational stuff, rather than strict coursework, but highly valuable. This book covers basic dog psychology across all the relevant arrays.
  2. Koehler Method of Guard Dog Training: The second half of this book contains the most updated version of Koehler obedience training that has been committed to print. The Koehler method held popularity through much of the 20th century and was the course of choice for Disney and many other programs that required well trained dogs. It is a more “old school” method and relies on molding, praise, and corrections as opposed to clicker training. I prefer more modern techniques if I have time, but Koehler is very effective for quickly and reliably training obedience. My first experience as a professional trainer was a 10 week Koehler method course. While clicker training tends to lead to better enthusiasm from dogs, Koehler was very reliable, and very easy. It is also a good way to learn “molding” techniques.

Founder: ISSA Certified Trainer, Ziglar Legacy Certified Speaker, Biohacker, Perspectivist, Conscious Carnivore

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