Dog Training – The Basics

As the owner of a large breed dog, you can certainly appreciate the value of having a well trained dog. Having a misbehaving 10 pound Chihuahua is one thing; having a misbehaving 150 pound Mastiff is quite another!

If you haven’t already started a training plan for your big friend, here are some basic tips to get you started.

Why Bother With Dog Training?
Basic training is important for your dog as well as yourself. A well trained dog is happier and well socialized to prevent getting into fights with other people’s dogs. In addition, many cities and neighborhoods have rules and regulations that require good behavior from dogs living in that community.
And training will of course make your pet a much better member of your household, particularly if you have children. Studies have shown time and again that the number of dog bites drops dramatically with proper training.
The Basics That Every Dog Should Learn
Regardless of the size or breed of your dog, there are specific commands that should be mastered, which include: 

  • Heel: This is the most basic of commands and absolutely essential if you want your dog walks to be a pleasurable experience rather than a tugging war. While every dog should learn to heel, it’s particularly important for the larger breeds. Otherwise, you’ll find your dog is walking you instead of the other way around.
  • Respond to the word ‘No’: Unfortunately, this is absolutely the one single most important word for your dog to both understand and react to. Teaching your dog to respond to the word ‘no’ will save you much trouble later on with other training needs.
  • Sit: This is another very basic training need that every dog should learn. Sitting on command helps focus your dog’s attention and help avoid other unwanted behavior.
  • Stay: ‘Stay’ is a companion – and just as important – as the ‘sit’ command. Having your dog sit doesn’t do a lot of good if they will not stay seated! Both these commands are important to establish yourself as alpha to your dog.
  • Down: Training your dog to lye down on command is not just a trick – it’s another important basic command to establish obedience and control over your canine friend.

As you may have guessed by now, these basic commands are intended to develop you as the ‘pack leader’ for your dog. Dogs are pack animals and there is only one single pack leader in every pack and that has to be you. Otherwise, your dog will assume this role and you will have a disobedient dog and an unhappy relationship.
Training your dog well will actually improve your relationship with it. A dog that is well trained will respond properly to your commands and have much less confusion, anxiety and stress. Dogs want to know what is expected of them and your job is to provide that through good training. This gives your dog a feeling of accomplishment and understanding, which will create an excellent relationship with you and all members of your family.
Some Don’ts to Avoid When Training
A well trained dog will almost always lead a healthier and happier life and provide you a loving and loyal companion. As you go about training your dog, below is a list of the top 12 “Don’ts” that we feel are important to make your training efforts as productive as possible. They are based on the typical psychology of a dog’s mind.

  1. DON’T discipline your dog when you are angry – it will only confuse him.
  2. DON’T sneak up on your dog or grab him from the rear – this creates fear, not obedience.
  3. DON’T call your dog to you and then punish him. This will only confuse him and make him reluctant to come to you again when asked.
  4. DON’T ever punish your dog by physically striking him. Punishment should always be sharp reprimands.
  5. DON’T praise you dog for a certain act at one time, and then scold him for that same act at another time. With dog training, consistency is the most important trait to display to your pet. 
  6. DON’T lose your patience with a puppy that is younger than six months.
  7. DON’T try to train in feats that require endurance and/or strength until you dog is at least six months old. This even applies to large breed dogs; just because they look big at six months doesn’t mean their muscles are ready for feats of strength.
  8. DON’T work your dog continuously without a short rest or play period. Five minutes of rest or play for every twenty minutes of training is about right.
  9. DON’T let multiple people give commands to your dog while he’s in training. You must remain the pack leader and your dog will be confused if others are giving commands.
  10. DON’T make performing tricks the main goal of training your dog. Your primary goal should be obedience and good behavior. Once those are mastered, you can teach your dog tricks, but not before. 
  11. DON’T expect that your dog will be trained after a few weeks. Six months to a year are required to achieve a basic, well trained dog and it’s certainly worth the effort. In fact, training is an ongoing task that really never ends.
  12. DON’T assume your dog is dumb if training is slow. While most large breed dogs are quite intelligent, some breeds are more naturally receptive to training that others and it’s usually more a matter of patience on your part than intelligence on the part of your dog.

The bottom line with these rules is to enable you to enjoy training your dog and, more importantly, to make if fun for both you and your canine companion.