Dear Dog Lover,

This short guide is intended to provide you with the basics on the complex topic of training dogs, in particular ways of preventing aggression.

It is up to you what you make out of your dog! Take the time to train your dog – and in doing so contribute to showing other people that dogs really are man’s best friend.

Advice on training dogs successfully from flexi – Part 1 of 3

Understanding dogs

Understanding the nature of dogs is very important for the harmonious co-existence of humans and dogs. Dogs “obey” certain natural laws of behaviour – our human rules cannot be applied to their behaviour. When training and keeping dogs, people often make mistakes without realising it, the result of which is that the dog behaves badly and is, incorrectly, given the blame for whatever it has done. In reality the dog has just followed its natural instincts. It is not the dog but the human who made a mistake.

“My dog only obeys when he wants to”

Another important precondition for training appropriate to canine behaviour is knowing about dogs’ learning behaviour. You too have probably heard lots of desperate dog owners say “My dog only obeys when he wants to”. This is a crucial issue when it comes to successful training – the secret is to get the dog to do what it wants to. Learning and behaviour require motivation. Achieving this is the cornerstone of species-appropriate, non-violent dog training.

In a Nutshell: The first step – Dog training is, first and foremost, based on the right kind of communication between human and dog. To do this you have to learn to “think” like your dog and understand its natural instincts.

The basic of dog training

Teaching commands

When teaching commands you should first get your dog to understand the connection between a hand movement, its behaviour and the reward. Once it has understood this you can move on to the spoken command.

The early bird …

You can begin training a dog at as early as three weeks old. Wait 2 to 3 days after bringing a puppy or a dog from an animal shelter home before starting to train it, so that it has time to get used to its new surroundings.

Coming must always be positive

You should never scold your dog when it comes to you, no matter what it may have done in the previous moments. Also try to make sure that you don’t always put his lead on following the “Come” command. This will have the effect of teaching your dog that its fun is over as soon as it hears your voice.

Reinforcing exercises learned

Dogs understand simple exercises very quickly, which does not, however, mean that they will also carry out these commands promptly and in all situations. There is only one way to get over this – practice, practice, practice. Best is three times a day for 10 minutes. If possible finish these practice sessions with an exercise that your dog can perform confidently.

The most important educational measures at a glance

  • If possible always reward your dog when it obeys you, perhaps with a treat, by stroking it and with praise.
  • If your dog is about to do something forbidden distract it with a noise.
  • Only “punish” your dog immediately it displays bad behaviour. Later on it will not be able to make the connection with its “deed” and will not accept your reaction.
  • The rebuke should be an unpleasant surprise for the dog, should not, however, frighten it.
  • Ignoring and rejection are very successful corrective methods for bad behaviour.
  • Following a rebuke if at all possible place your dog in the original situation again and reward him immediately if he behaves properly this time.
  • Never scream hysterically at your dog if it does not obey a command, but rather use a calm, firm tone of voice which is as deep as possible to make clear to the dog that its behaviour was bad.
  • Do not hit your dog! These kind of methods destroy any trust there might be between you and your dog.
  • Never punish your dog by withholding its food or water.

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