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Top 5 Training Tips for Your Dog

Regardless of age, pet parents can always train their dog to do something. With time, you get to know your dog and learn what works and what doesn't. This knowledge makes training your dog a lot easier and helps save time. However, if you just got your dog or are just beginning to train him, you may be unsure of where to begin.

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Consider these top training tips for dogs:

1. Be consistent
So many pet parents forget about the importance of consistency. However, it's the only way to get the point across without confusing your dog. Pedigree states that changing your ways halfway through training or having someone else simultaneously train can be very overwhelming for a dog and hard to understand. A lack of consistency may cause your dog to lose the memory of the initial training and will cause you to start from the beginning. If you begin training your dog and use a certain word for an action, make sure everyone in your family uses that word. For example, if the person mainly training the dog uses the word "down" to keep the dog from jumping, every family member should use that word. If other family members use a word such as "off" to correct the dog, he'll be confused and unsure of who to listen to. Being consistent will help keep him on track in training.

2. Listen to your dog
Though you may want him to listen to you, it's also important to listen to your dog. Petfinder notes that dogs often give signs to their owners when they're uncomfortable or not OK with something. For example, if you're on a walk and you notice your dog is fearful of another dog, don't keep walking that way. You're putting your dog at risk of a possible fight. Instead, find an alternate route or just cross to the other side of the street. The same goes for other instances of hesitation. If you're trying to train your dog how to swim and he won't leave the edge of the pool, it may be too early. Wait a few months and try again. Being aware of what your dog is trying to tell you will save you a lot of time and hassle.

3. Be specific
Sometimes, pet parents aren't specific enough when training a dog. They may just use "no," instead of telling the dog what they'd rather have the dog do. If your dog comes inside with muddy paws, you may just say "no." However, your dog has no idea what he's done wrong. Alternatively, tell him what you want him to do. Using words like "go outside" or even "sit" or "stay" will help make matters clearer for him.

4. Be honest with yourself
Pet parents should try to avoid going into training with unrealistic expectations. Realize how complex the training is and how long it may take before getting yourself involved with it. If you set unrealistic goals, you and your dog will end up frustrated and tired, and most likely upset with each other. Instead, be mindful of your dog's intelligence and skill level. Some training can be a lot more difficult than other types of training. Certain actions that are natural for dogs, such as barking or digging, will take the most time. Behavior that's been reinforced in the past will also take up more time. For example, if you've had your dog scratch your door for the past five years to indicate he needs to go out, and now have decided he needs to ring a bell to let you know, that'll take some time. He'll be confused by the random change in a behavior that he's gotten very accustomed to doing.

5. Understand the difference between a bribe and a reward
There's a distinct difference between bribing a dog with a treat and rewarding him with one. Pet parents should follow the latter. Sophia Yin, D.V.M., notes to keep in mind that your dog is in constant training. He's always learning from your actions. However, you may believe the only time you're training your dog is at specific times when you're holding a treat. Yet if you think about it, your dog follows the rules you trained him on most of the time without a treat, mostly because he gets verbal praise or affection from you. Know the difference between these two things, and be sure that his behavior deserves a treat, not the other way around.

These are just a few training tips to follow to make pet parents' lives a little easier. Though training can seem like a pain sometimes, a few simple suggestions may be the solution for a smoother process. Some of the best trainers in the world use classic tips like these to keep their dogs obedient and willing to learn. Follow these suggestions to try and do the same. Best of luck!