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Dog training for beginners

09/03/2020 - Latest News

Sean Pickering at Premier Dog Training has lots of tips on dog training for beginners.

When you start training a new dog, regardless of any previous experience, you are both beginners. It’s a whole new relationship where both the human and the dog need to start with the basics and build a strong bond.

  • If you are new to dog training, take time to learn how force free dog training works
  • Set aside 10 – 15 minutes each day for dog training
  • At least once a week, team up with a qualified dog trainer for a progression session
  • Have a long term goal in mind
  • Break training down into a series of simple steps
  • Be confident with one step before you move onto the next
  • Every so often review your progress and celebrate your success
  • Be careful who you take advice from – not everyone’s idea of dog training will be right for you and your dog.
  • Don’t compare your progress to other peoples – every dog-owner partnership learns at a different pace. It’s long term results and your dog’s welfare that are important.
 
A word about dog training techniques
When it comes to training for beginners (and for experts!) it’s imperative to always use force free training techniques. Force free dog training methods are based on science and on the experiences of professional dog trainers. We know that they work and we know that dogs rarely forget what they learn in this way. Here’s how they work.

As a dog trainer, I’m often asked to help owners tackle problems that have developed over time. Sometimes, (but not always) it seems as though the dog has forgotten its previous training. Maybe the recall is less reliable than it should be, or perhaps there’s lots of pulling on the lead. If there’s no obvious reason for the lapse in training standards such as a bad experience, it could mean that the original training method wasn’t quite right for the dog. Either it was rushed or old fashioned (fear-based) techniques were used.

If you want to future-proof your dog training, it’s important to use the right techniques, to work slowly and to make sure each new lesson is thoroughly learned before moving on to the next.

Make training sessions short and regular
Training your dog should be a joy for both of you. Keep your sessions short enough so that neither you, nor your dog get bored or frustrated. 10 -15 minutes a day is plenty to start with.

Find a way to fit dog training into your daily regime so that it becomes a habit. Perhaps schedule a session into your daily walk, or work with your dog while you wait for your dinner to cook. It’s not important where or when you train your dog, only that you DO train your dog.

Start with the basics
Don’t expect your dog to be an instant expert. Just as a child needs to learn their ABC’s before they can read “War and Peace”, a dog needs to master the basics before they can move on to more complex things. It may sound daft, but unless your pooch can reliably respond to their own name, there’s a strong possibility that your future training efforts will be in vain. Work on focus first and everything else should fall into place – and stay there!

Making progress with dog training
A wise person once said “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten” Unless you introduce new challenges, dog training can easily get repetitive and stale. Your dog will anticipate what is being asked and could learn to associate behaviours with places rather than with a cue from you. If that means he or she sits at the kerb every time you cross the road, it’s great. If it also means your dog automatically drags you into the pub – that’s maybe not so great.

My top tip for dog training for beginners is to keep challenging your dog’s brain. You could train in different places, use different props, try different exercises and ask for different behaviours. And the best way to get inspiration and to keep your training techniques fresh is to join a dog training class.

Think of dog training classes as progression sessions. You’ll be able to work with a qualified trainer to review your results so far, tweak your techniques and discover new exercises.

If classes are not your “thing”, then regular one-to-one sessions with a dog trainer are an excellent alternative.

Working towards your dog training goal
What is your dog training goal? Would you like to take part in canine sports like agility or Hoopers? Perhaps you have a gundog breed and want your pet to be able to express their natural instincts. Or, like many dog owners, you just want to enjoy the company of a well behaved and confident pet.

Whatever your goal, take a few moments to write down what that could look like – what will your pet need to know?

Now break that knowledge down into simple building blocks.

For example – a fitness enthusiast might want to take their dog jogging through the park. What will your dog need to know?
  • Loose lead walking and/walking (or running) to heel off lead.
  • Focus – keeping attention on you – not stopping to sniff at every tree/bin/signpost
  • Doggy manners – no chasing cyclists, children, picnics or other dogs in the park
  • Recall – come back when called
  • Emergency stop – every dog should know this one

Every dog knows how to run, not every dog knows how to trot beside a human and behave impeccably at the same time.

PS: Check with your vet before asking your dog to do prolonged or vigorous exercise like jogging. Too much exercise, particularly for puppies can lead to some nasty health problems

Help with dog training for beginners
At Premier Dog Training we run dog training courses specifically for beginners. These are small, friendly classes that you can join at any time, stay as long as you feel you are making progress and then swap to a more advanced class.

Beginner classes are for puppies or for dogs over 6 months old and they are for humans of any age or level of experience.

Find out more about puppy classes for beginners
How to train an older dog
What will you learn from dog training classes?