Dog Training & Obedience
Dog training is the process of teaching a dog to exhibit certain desired behaviors in specific circumstances. Some examples are: more...
- Teaching a dog basic obedience commands (part of obedience training)
- Teaching a dog to perform tricks casually or for circus acts
- Teaching a guide dog to lead the blind
- Teaching a rescue dog to find victims of a disaster
- Helping a hunting dog learn to perform its instinctive behaviors at appropriate times
The specific behaviors taught in each case are different, but the underlying principles are similar.
In the wild as pack animals, canines have natural instincts that favor training. These instincts are manifested when the dog lives with humans as a desire to please a handler, as a dog would please senior members in a pack in the wild. The handler is simply whoever is working with a dog at the time.
Most dogs, no matter their advanced training or intended purpose, live with people and therefore must behave in a way that makes them pleasant to have around and for their own safety and that of other people and pets. For the happiness of both the dog and the owner, basic obedience is enforced through the training procedure.
Age for early training
Dog training begins virtually at birth. Dogs that are handled and petted by humans regularly during the first eight weeks of life are generally much more amenable to being trained and living in human households. Ideally, puppies should be placed in their permanent homes between about 8 and 10 weeks of age. In some places it is against the law to take puppies away from their mothers before the age of 8 weeks. Before this age, puppies are still learning tremendous amounts of socialization skills from their mother. Puppies are innately more fearful of new things during the period from 10 to 12 weeks, which makes it harder for them to adapt to a new home.
Puppies can begin learning tricks and commands as early as 8 to 12 weeks of age; the only limitations are the pup's stamina, concentration, and physical coordination. It is much easier to live with young dogs that have already learned basic commands such as sit. Waiting until the puppy is much older and larger and has already learned bad habits makes the training much more difficult.
Basic training classes
Professional "dog trainers" usually do not train the dogs, but actually train the owners how to train their own dogs. It is crucial for the owner and the dog to attend class together, to learn more about each other and how to work together. Training is most effective if everyone who handles the dog takes part in the training to ensure consistent commands, methods, and enforcement.
Formal training in classes is not always available until the puppy has completed all its vaccinations at around 4 months; however, some trainers might offer puppy socialization classes in which puppies can enroll immediately after being placed in their permanent homes as long as disease risk is minimal and puppies have receieved initial vaccinations. In most cases, basic training classes accept only puppies who are at least 3 to 6 months old.
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