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Dog Training Guide - The Fundamentals


 Dog Training Guide - The Fundamentals

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Dog Training

In this introduction to my dog obedience training guide I want to explain the basic principles behind all dog training practices and some of the pitfalls that need to be overcome.

Dogs live for the present. Their memories are based upon association; they have very little recall memory. Dogs are not able to reason as we do. They think in concrete terms, it is very much action = consequence for them. Dog behaviours that are rewarded are usually repeated while behaviours that are discouraged are typically avoided. This is the main principle behind any kind of dog obedience training.

To take a simple example, if your dog sits and you promptly provide a treat or give verbal praise then he will begin to sit on his own in order to receive another reward. Conversely, if your dog jumps up for attention and you completely ignore him, this is a negative consequence and your dog will be less likely to repeat this behaviour in future. To create meaningful associations you should praise behaviours that you want to encourage and ignore behaviours that you want to discourage. It all sounds very simple doesn't it? So why is dog obedience training such a contentious subject?

One of the problems is that you only have about two seconds to make the association between action and reward. This means that it is easily possible for the inexperienced owner to make an unintended association. For example, your dog sits but by the time you give him his treat and verbal praise he is standing up - you have inadvertently praised the stand up rather than the sit. Another example would be when you come home to find that your dog has messed on the carpet. You drag your dog to the scene of the crime and rub his nose in it saying 'Bad Dog' and push him outside. All you have succeeded in doing is teach your dog that going to the toilet is wrong.

Another problem is that in the home environment a dog can have too many masters and can end up totally confused by conflicting associations and inconsistent training methods. A dog should only have one master and one trainer. In this dog training guide I have explained the fundamentals behind dog obedience training. They are very simple but as the saying goes, easier said than done. However, knowing the basics will always help when applying specific dog training methods.