Basic Training & Tackling problems of Pets

Basic training

A healthy dog is a happy dog, which is why we are on a mission to ensure that your dog is getting the nutrition he needs in the flavours and textures he enjoys.

  • training with treats
  • Clicker training your dog
  • Dog and puppy obedience

It’s never too soon, or too late, to start training your dog. Here’s what you need to know to get started.

Training your puppy is best achieved through rewarding good behaviour and ignoring unwanted behaviour.

Basic training tips

Basic Training Tips

It’s never too soon, or too late, to start training your dog. Here’s what you need to know to get started.

Repeating things helps your dog learn what you’re looking for.

Rewarding your dog for good behaviour over and over again is the key to a happy, obedient dog.

Reinforcing the lesson at regular intervals means your dog won’t forget what they’ve learnt.

By rewards, we don’t just mean treats. You can use a combination of dog treats, verbal praise and stroking. Here are some hints to help you to use rewards.

• Reward your dog as soon as they obey so they associate the reward with the right action.
• A food reward should be something really tempting – and it won’t work effectively straight after a meal.
• Make sure the treat is healthy and that you’re using just enough to keep your dog motivated.
• Use the treats to let your dog know which action you’re rewarding, then gradually shift to verbal praise and stroking. You want your dog to be motivated by praise and love as well as food.

Clicker training your dog

Clicker Training your Dog

Training your puppy is best achieved through rewarding good behaviour and ignoring unwanted behaviour.

Clicker training involves using a small clicker device that produces a distinct sound. With this technique dogs are trained to associate the sound of a click with a food reward. When they consistently make this association then the actual training for specific behaviours can begin.

The essential difference between clicker training and other reward-based training is that the animal is told exactly which behaviour earned it a reward. This is communicated with a distinct and unique sound, a click, which is given at exactly the same moment as the desired behaviour occurs. The reward is then given after the click.

The click is a useful tool for training because, unlike a human voice, it is a unique sound that does not vary and is not heard by the dog in other situations. It can also be produced instantly at the exact moment a desired behaviour occurs, letting the dog know exactly what he did to get the reward. Even very quick or subtle behaviours can be clicked and therefore trained.

Remember the clicker is not a remote control to tell the dog to do something – it is a cue to signal that he has done the right thing.

The first stage of clicker training is to teach your dog to associate the sound of the click with a reward.

– Take a handful of small treats (kibble from his daily allowance is ideal).
– Make a click with the clicker and give your dog a treat after the sound.
– If your dog is not food motivated try giving a different reward after each click such as throwing a toy.
– Repeat this several times.

Your dog should quickly learn to associate the sound of the clicker with receiving a treat. You will know when he has made the association when his ears prick up and he starts to look for the treat after hearing the sound of the clicker.

Once your dog consistently associates the clicker’s sound with a reward you can start training for specific behaviours. There are two approaches to doing this:

The first is to allow your dog to do what he wants while you watch him and give a click, followed by a reward, on the exact moment he performs the desired behaviour on his own. This is an effective way of training but can require plenty of patience while you wait for him to perform the desired behaviour.

The second method is to lure your dog into performing the desired behaviour. For example, if you want to teach your dog to sit take a small treat, let your dog see it and slowly move the treat in your hand over your dog’s head. As he looks up to follow the treat he will naturally put himself into a sitting position. Click your dog as soon as he is sitting and give him the treat.

It is really important to keep sessions short so that your dog enjoys the training and does not become tired or bored. Repeat this for several short sessions. Also it’s best to only train for one behaviour at a time or your dog may just become confused!

You can encourage your dog to repeat behaviours you like. Find the best dog treats to bolster your dog’s training.

Dog and puppy obedience

Dog and puppy obedience

To gain your dog’s obedience, try these essential tips.

You’re the boss

If you give your dog a free reign in your house, they’ll assume they’re the pack leader and can do what they like. Be strict until your dog knows their place – no sofa, no bed, no treats. And talk to them in a calm, firm voice.

Be consistent

If you let your dog on the bed, but your partner pushes them off, you’ll just confuse your dog. So everyone involved in your dog’s life needs to agree on what’s allowed and what isn’t – and then stick to it.

Be consistent with your commands, too. You’ll have more success with one simple command like ‘No’ than with a mixture of ‘Don’t do that!’ ‘Stop it!’ and ‘Oi!’. Get everyone to stick to the same commands and it’ll be easier for your dog to understand each person.

Don’t tell your dog off after the event

If you arrive home one day to find your slippers in tatters, it’s too late to tell your dog off for chewing it. Your dog won’t associate something they did earlier with being told off. Telling off only ever works if you catch your dog in the act.

Repeat, reward and reinforce

Remember the three R’s of training. Repeat the same exercises again and again, with heaps of praise and lots of your dog’s favourite treats. Keep repeating it on different days and in different places to make sure your dog has learnt the behaviour you want

Tackling problems:

Here you can find useful tips on tackling specific problems for your dogs

  • How to deal with problem behaviour
  • Boost your dog’s confidence
  • Toilet trouble
Boost your dog's confidence
Toilet trouble

How to deal with problem behaviour

How to deal with problem behaviour

All dogs can be naughty, some worse than others. While early training can help puppies learn right from wrong, it’s important to remember that rescue dogs may not have had that important early care. For example they may not have been socialised with people and other dogs as a puppy, or they may have missed out on training. They may have been bored, over-boisterous or destructive because of insecurity and anxiety. By getting to know why your dog behaves the way they do, you can help rectify their problem behaviour.

Some of the triggers for problem behaviour are:

• Being left alone
• Car travel
• Fear and nervousness
• Boisterous and status-related behaviours
• Breed traits

Being Left Alone
Dogs are pack animals and enjoy company. So, when they’re denied it, some resort to destructiveness, howling or messing. This is usually down to boredom, attention seeking or insecurity and anxiety.

• If your dog gets bored, invest time in creating games and toys that keep their minds occupied, both when you’re with them and when you’re not.

• Hard as it can be, it is important to praise good behaviour and ignore bad. By responding to disruptive behaviour, like barking or whining, the dog thinks they’re getting attention. So they do it again. And again.

• There’s a fine line between overprotecting a pet dog and being supportive of an insecure dog. Spend time with the dog gently guiding them to build up their independence.

Car travel
Problems with car travel often fall into two types – anxious dogs that associate cars with separation or scary trips to the vet and over-boisterous dogs that associate cars with exciting trips out. Both can be overcome with time and patience. Use small journeys to get the dog used to the movement, sound and smell.

Fear and nervousness
When dogs are puppies, it’s important to get them used to different sounds and environments. Anything from washing machines to a car alarms, playgrounds to people in uniform – the more you can expose them too when they’re young, the less anxious they’ll be in later life. Rescue dogs may not have had that early exposure so, if they’re nervous, they’ll need a calm environment to build their confidence at their own pace.

Boisterous and status-related behaviours
Dogs will test you, particularly where they enter the adolescent period, but by being calm and consistent owner, teaching your dog the right behaviours, you can avoid any long-term problems.

Breed traits
Different breeds are prone to different behaviours. Some guard, some hunt, some herd. It is important to carry out lots of research about the breed of dog you’ve chosen to make sure you can provide correct and suitable training and socialisation. You can encourage your dog to repeat behaviours you like. Find the best dog treats to bolster your dog’s training.

If you are concerned about your dog’s behaviour, seek help early. Speak to your vet or contact the charity you got your dog from.

This information was provided in association with canine welfare at the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.

Boost your dog’s confidence

Boost your dog's confidence

If your dog lacks confidence, this can lead to aggression and shyness. Building your dog’s confidence will help them get along with people and other animals. Here’s how you can help.

You’ll need

• a willing friend or family member that your dog is comfortable with;
• some of the best dog treats that they love the most; and
• a lead.

What to do

1. Put your dog on the lead, while giving them a treat. Ask your friend to stand still, about six feet away from you.
2. Give a command like “say hello!” and walk up to your friend with your dog.
3. Let your friend give your dog a treat – without speaking to or petting them.
4. Turn and lead your dog away, while praising them enthusiastically.

Keep repeating the game until your dog seems keen to approach your friend when they hear the words ‘say hello!’

Repeat, reward and reinforce

Once your dog is fine with that friend, try the game with different – but still familiar – friends and family until your dog is eagerly greeting everyone.

After that, you can try the game again with someone your dog might not recognise. (Remember, the friend mustn’t look at or touch your dog as this could create stress.) Their job is simply to hand, or toss, your dog a treat when you approach and then you and your dog should move away.

Success: a confident dog

Eventually, your dog will resist moving away. This is the sign that they’re feeling more comfortable approaching people. The friend who’s helping you can now look at your dog, or briefly pet them, giving a second treat. If your dog is still anxious, then go back a step and move away after the first treat for a bit longer.

Toilet trouble

Toilet trouble

Even a perfectly house-trained dog can sometimes leak a little urine when they’re very excited or nervous. It’s called ‘submissive urination’. It’s quite common for this to happen when you arrive home and greet them, but you can try these tips in other situations, too.

The key to breaking this habit is not to make a fuss – punishment will only make your dog more anxious. Instead, try following this two-stage training guide:

Stage One – putting your dog at ease

Try to make arriving home and greeting your dog as casual as possible:

• don’t stand over your dog, make eye contact or lift your hand above them; instead
• crouch down and offer your hand palm up for them to lick.

Stage Two – giving your dog an alternative way to welcome you home

Build up these simple steps to give your dog an alternative way to greet you:

1. Teach your dog to ‘sit’
2. Teach them to ‘shake hands’
3. Tell your dog to ‘sit, shake hands’ then give them a treat

With patience and practice your dog should soon be giving you a drier welcome home!