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behaviors challenges for a dog owners punishment reinforcement training your dog

Training Your Puppy: Tips and Techniques for Calibrating Behaviors and Avoiding Common Challenges

You got your first puppy. Yay! A new member in your family. You all discuss what you’re gonna call him/her. You are all excited about it. Well, At least, that’s how I felt when I got my first puppy. For some day everything about the puppy feels cute and comforting but soon you are bound to face many upsetting challenges.

After some days of getting my puppy aka Midas, Yes, we all agreed upon naming him Midas, he started excreting everywhere, he would jump on beds and leave a ton of fur. Well, it surely is a natural behavior for dogs but it was quite  frustrating for us. We couldn’t let him have his way. 

I had some insights on how to calibrate his behaviors. Before getting him, I used to explore many videos on pet dogs. I loved how people had fun with their dog and how disciplined their dogs were. I had seen videos of people training their dogs. All I needed to do was revisit those videos again and research as much as possible.

First thing that I learnt and applied successfully was commanding my dog to sit through positive reinforcement.

POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT 

It’s common for human parents to praise or treat their children when they do something good. This ensures that the children will exhibit the same behavior again and again. Same thing can be applied to pet dogs as well. This process of training by praising or giving treats is called positive reinforcement.

  • Teaching commands through positive reinforcement.

There are several commands that a pet dog can obey once taught. Command to sit, lay down,jump,stay put etc are pretty common and very useful. 

The method which I applied for Midas to obey the ‘SIT’ command is called luring. The steps that i followed are;

  1. Holding his favorite treat in front of him. This treat is the lure hence the term luring.
  2. Slowly hovering the treat over his head. This forces him to a position where his bottom touches  the ground.
  3. Once his bottom touches the ground, giving him his treat.
  4. Repeating the process for a few times until he understood that he will only get his treat when he successfully sits down.

Well, it did take me some trials and errors to make him obey this command . The key is to be patient with your dog . Once you are successful, the feeling is quite rewarding on its own.

Before teaching these commands we have to be sure that our dog responds to what we call them. I didn’t have difficulty on this one because Midas responded to his name without any reinforcement whatsoever. After only  a few days of repeating the name he would respond immediately. But if he didn’t respond i would have followed the given procedure;

  1. Show a treat to your dog.
  2. Run away a couple of paces then call your dog’s name or the command ‘COME’.
  3. As your dog comes toward you, give him/her the treat.
  4. Repeat this process. Increase the distance from which you call your dog. 

Another simpler procedure could be;

  1. Calling your dog at random.
  2. If they respond to your call, give them the treat. 
  3. If they don’t throw the treat near their paws. Try clapping your hands or making loud whistles or noise to grab their attention. 
  4. Repeat this process until the dog responds only to your call.

Any procedure can be followed according to your ease. just make sure not to scold your dog when they come towards you. And again , be patient.

It is also essential to take your dog outside for a walk or outdoor activity. They can be pretty rowdy outside so using a lease on them is also important. We may have to train them to get comfortable with lease. Initially they are not comfortable with the collar around their neck so letting them wear the collar often is the first step. Allow them to wear the collar indoors until they get comfortable . It’s all a piece of cake after that. There are some key points to consider.

  1. If the dog misbehaves, don’t yank or drag.
  2. Train him/her indoors before taking them outdoors.

There are several ways to teach commands through positive reinforcement. Experimenting on each of them is a must. Once your dog is responsive to your commands you can play and enjoy with them, teach them several tricks and games. 

Teaching through positive reinforcement is really effective. But there are behavioral corrections or calibrations that need some harsh treatment. Which brings us to another fundamental training method called punishment.

PUNISHMENT 

Punishment may have a bad image but in the right context it’s really essential. Just like how parents punish their children when they do something that shouldn’t be done, our pet dog also needs punishment sometimes. And by punishment I don’t mean beating them or being brutal towards them. Raising your voice or scolding them when they do something wrong ensures that they don’t repeat the same behavior again. Well, a little bit of fear of the owner is very crucial in the development of our dogs.

Midas was really naughty when brought into our home. He used to excrete everywhere including bedsheet, sofas. He was a small puppy so I never raised my voice against him though I wanted to . He was really cute and innocent looking for me to be angry for long. Little did I know, I should have scolded him. After digging some articles I found out the importance of verbal punishments. Even though I was reluctant to do it, I had to give it a shot, so that’s what I did. I shouted at him whenever he did something that was prohibited for him to do. Soon he showed improvement in his behaviors. 

Punishment works like charm when mixed with positive reinforcement. Though midas stopped pooping inside the house he went outside most of the time. With the help of positive reinforcement I allocated a specific place for him to excrete . This mixture of punishment and positive reinforcement changed many of his annoying habits. He doesn’t sleep anywhere he seems fit, instead he has a specific area for sleeping. He doesn’t jump on couches and beds anymore. Even today when he does something out of order I shout at him very harshly without any ill intentions. 

There are some cautions to be considered while punishing your dog. You have to be very smart and careful about the punishment. Some of the cautions are;

  1. Never punish your pet dog at random. Do it only when deemed necessary.
  2. Don’t punish your dog when he is trying his best and only do it when he does something inappropriate.
  3. Don’t  let your life frustrations out on your dog. This leaves a very negative impact on your dog.

The methods which I discussed are purely basic for any type of dog you wish to pet. There are many breeds of dog around the globe. Each breed has a unique specialty and there is specific training according to the breed you choose. You cannot expect one type of breed to follow up training routines designed for another breed. Each breed has their own physical capabilities and limits. For example you cannot expect a maltese or pomeranian to follow up a training routine designed for german shepherd or rottweiler. German shepherds and rottweilers are big guard dogs and maltese and pomeranians are rather small and house dogs.

There is a huge difference in getting a trained dog and training one on our own. We learn many things during the process. We learn about patience, we learn about love and we definitely learn about companionship. Our bond with our dog strengthens as we train it. So I suggest everyone to get an untrained dog as a pet. There is also a trend to get a puppy when a child is born. The child grows along with the puppy. The child always has a companion with him/her and they learn many things about caring for another being from a young age. 

Having a pet dog is a bliss on its own. Dogs are pretty loyal and loveable pets. Owning one surely tends to relieve us from stress and loneliness. They grow up as a part of our family and help us mentally, emotionally and physically. They are also our companions in need. Though sometimes annoying they lighten up our homes. Their presence brightens our mood. They also protect our homes from intruders and us as well. Training with them is a rewarding process which benefits our physical and mental health as well as theirs. Even walking them around is an exercise for both of us. 

Dogs are really faithful and trustworthy beings. If you own one, be sure to be kind towards them. Give them all the love and care you can give. Train with them, play with them and most importantly never abandon them. Be patient with them if they are misbehaving and dont mistreat them.

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