How to Start Relationship-Based Training with Your Dog

We all know that if you have a positive relationship with your dog, you will be more trusted by him, and he will be willing to spend more time with you. In this way, your training project will be much easier as your dog training is based on a good relationship.

Relationship-based training uses the positive relationship between the trainer and the dog to achieve results that benefit both the dog and the trainer, while at the same time enhancing and strengthening their relationship. Your training program will be much easier if you and your dog have a good relationship.

Here are some practical tips of relationship-based training that you can follow:


Tip 1: Learn Your Dog's Body Language

As dogs are non-verbal, they use body language to talk for them. Knowing how to read your dog's body language is the key to understanding your dog.

Every dog is different. If you want to know how your dog is feeling, you'll need to observe his entire body, not just his tail or his voice. Put off training until the animal's needs have been met and he can concentrate on the training exercise. The better you can interpret what your dog's responses to your training and to the environment, the better trainer you become.

We list some illustrations of general body language which will help you read and learn your dog. Understand your dog better by reading this article: Dog Body Language: Understanding What Your Dog is Trying To Tell You.

Communicate with dog


Tip 2: Keep Sessions Short

Dogs are like kids. Kids easily get tired and bored if they take long classes. To dogs, it is no different. A long training session can be exactly that if your dog is not getting what you are asking him at that moment - continuing to try and do it can just make it worse, not better. Instead, a more frequent and shorter session is more effective. This will help him retain what he just learned.

But how short is short? Generally speaking, it depends on your dog. On average 10-15minutes at a time is best. If you notice your dog starting to lose interest, the training session has already lasted too long. You can work on something for 3 to 5 repetitions at a time, then take a break, give him something to chew on, and come back for another short session after a while.

Dog, chew


Tip 3: Break Behaviors into Manageable Pieces

Many behaviors are actually made up of more than one action or position. We can think dog training as a kind of dance - only when your dog learn these small steps can he put them together into the final routine. So breaking behaviors into small manageable pieces will make your training more successful.

For example, if you want to train your dog comes with a recall, you'd better break the complicated behavior into several manageable pieces - the first piece is to make sure he notice and understand your command, then he will behave as you want.

It will be also easier to trace the progress you and your dog are making.

Train dog


Tip 4: Reward with Treats, Not Punishing

People tend to punish the dog if he is bad-behaved. If you punish your dog for his misbehavior, he may be aggressive or fearful, even broken spirited.

Instead, as most dogs love food and likely respond beautifully to being rewarded, why not try positive reinforcaments - ignore incompatible behavior, reinforce the desired behavior, then reward with praise or treats. If a behavior is rewarding, your dog is more likely to exhibit the behavior again for getting more rewards.

Trust me, shifting from emphasizing correction or punishment to emphasizing positive reinforcements seems to be more effective in dog training. That's the power of even tiny treats!

Reward the dog


Tip 5: Manage Distractions

Managing distractions is necessary and important. If a dog pricks his ears with an alert expression of the eyes, he may be caught by some interesting things around. In this condition, it will be harder to be obedient.

For example, if you train your dog at a park or a crowded street with a lot of distractions, he may be selective deafness. But if you train your dog in the house, it will be much easier as distractions in the house are much less than distractions at a park or a street.

So when you start training a behavior, you can try this way: firstly pick a place that doesn't have distraction, then add some distractions gradually when he is fluent in the behavior, finally take him to a crowded street or other place to test him.

Train your dog in the house


Tip 6: Be Patient

We often have a mental image of how a well-behaved dog behaves. But we ignore that our dog is just like kids, not a miniature adult like us. And he can not think as we want.

What you need to do when training your dog is to be patient. Just take it easy. Remember you and your dog will be together for a number of years. It's okay if he can not reach your training goals the first couple of weeks. Train your dog to master the basics and then gradually increase its difficulty until your dog can master it successfully.

Train your dog to master the basics


Tip 7: Be Consistent

Dogs can not understand inconsistency. They need black and white, right or wrong especially when they are learning.

When training your dog, you'd better use a CONSISTENT command to tell him what you want, otherwise he may be confused. For example, suppose you tell your dog "off" when he jumps on the couch and someone is saying "down", how on earth is he going to learn what you want?

If you have made a rule for your dog, DO NOT ever break it. For example, if you train your dog to sit when he greets you, make sure you never reward him when he jumps up.

With consistent commands and feedback, your dog will be well trained.

Trained dog


Tip 8: Learn a little theory

Maybe you feel some theories in books are not useful ( or not that useful ) for training your dog as every dog is unique.

However, learning a little theory is still necessary because theory can help you come up with some creative ideas, solutions and form your own training plan, though your dog's behaviors don't quite fit anyone else's experience.

So take time to learn a little behavioral theory. Then you will be able to understand why your dog behaves this and how you should respond when your dog behaves strangely.

Dog training, theory


As you do as the above tips, you will find that these tips cover a few basic training concepts to help strengthen all aspects of your dog training program. And you will progress a lot quicker.



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