Making sure that your life with your big dog is one that is enjoyable all comes down to you and how you train your dog. Dogs are pack animals and they need clear cut rules to live happily. As the leader of your “pack” it is up to you to set up the pecking order.
Your dog needs three things to be a well-adjusted dog:
Love of course is something that all us big dog owners can easily give but love is actually a part of discipline. Giving your dog love and attention has to hinge on their willingness to earn it because remember you want to mimic their natural environment for them to be well-adjusted.
In a pack of dogs the dogs have to earn their place in the pack. You want your dog to feel well loved but for them to be truly accepting of that love they have to feel like they have earned it.
Exercise is key in making sure your dog’s mind is well tuned and ready for training. It is hard to train a dog that cannot focus because they have so much pent up energy.
A dog that is well-balanced is a dog that gets the right amount of exercise every day. Each dog is different. Some big dogs do not want a lot of exercise while others do.
Understanding the needs of your breed can help you to set up an exercise schedule which is going to become part of your training plan. Read on for the top 5 training tips for your big dog.
Training only works well if you are consistent in your training. In other words you cannot demand one thing from your dog one day than let it all fly out the window the next. Consistency is key in training your dog. Being the same person every day to your dog is important to help he/she understand what is expected of them.
For example let’s say your rule is no food from the table but you have some guests that are feeding your dog from the table, they are slipping them a little treat. Unfortunately their kindness is viewed as weakness by your dog and not only their weakness but yours as well.
If the rule is no food from the table that has to be the rule all the time. If your rule is no sitting on the furniture than that has to be the rule all the time. Dogs thrive with rules, with structure and leadership.
It can be very easy to undo all the teaching and training you have done by allowing a divergence from the normal for them. Unlike two legged children when you explain that this is a one-time deal and tomorrow you go back to the regular schedule, a four legged child has zero comprehension of time so they just assume that the rule is out the window and they can just adopt the new (bad) behavior.
Stay consistent! Devise a training plan/exercise schedule so that everything happens at the same time each day. A schedule can actually help your dog to learn what to expect each day and around what time to expect it.
One Rule at a Time
Let’s say you start training on Monday with the simple “stay” command it is a bad idea to start working on “sit” on Tuesday. Imagine if you tried to learn all the rules in one day and have to remember them the next day. It is all about the reinforcement which can mean some repetition.
It does not have to be a month of “stay” for your dog to get it and remember it but it is best to focus on one rule or behavior at a time. It allows them to really absorb the meaning of the words and how to gauge your body language.
Every command should be a one word command. Avoid sentences and instead use just a one word phrase like “sit”, “stay”, “heal”, “come” and other commands that are not just easy for you to use but that are easy for your dog to understand. You also want to use universal commands that other people in your family can use in your absence.
You have to allow your big dog to really understand the expectations to train them successfully. Plan on spending a few days on each simple command. There are two commands that your dog must learn before any other:
These two commands are the most important because you want your dog to come when you tell it too and you also want it to stay when you tell it too. All other commands can be built on these two commands like come and stay and sit and stay.
Of the two “come” is the most important because it is a control command that can keep your dog safe. When you tell your dog to come you are bringing them back to a safe place. Work on the “come” command first. Come can be interchangeable with “here” but it is best to settle on one word that you will use all the time.
It’s All About the Rewards
Dogs and humans are that far removed from each other when it comes to behavior. As a human if you went to work every day and did not get paid you would likely not want to work.
Even if you were forced to do it you would but you would drag your feet complain and not really be open to making anyone happy about you being there.
Dogs are similar, learning new things for them is work they want to be rewarded for a job well done. There are two things that your dog wants as a paycheck:
- Your attention and acknowledgement that they are doing a good job.
- A treat.
It is simple enough. When your dog responds by doing what you ask a “good dog” comment a little rub and a treat will get them to do it again and again. Try getting a pet treat pouch as soon as your dog sees the pouch come out and get strapped on they will instantly know that it is training time and get excited about it.
Everyone wants to be paid for working hard so does your dog! Every single time that your dog does what you want him/her too you have to offer a reward. Give both praise and a treat that they like to enhance the idea that they will be rewarded if they can obey your commands.
For some dogs they are ready, willing and eager to learn new tricks! Other dogs they want to learn but you are not using the right tools to teach them. If one tactic doesn’t work try another. A lot of big dog owners take a little while to catch on and complain that their dog is not responding to the training methods.
In some cases they do not like the treats that you are offering so try different types of treats. Some dogs are visual learners and are paying attention to your body language for clues as to what you want so put more effort into the hand commands and see if that helps.
Other dogs don’t want to hear you talking they respond better to other sounds like clicks so try a clicker and see if that works. Sometimes you just have to increase the number of training sessions that you are using because they need a little more instruction than you are providing.
Here is a rule you should consider-every dog can be trained, if the dog is not training well you have to consider the trainer! If what you are doing is not working change what you are doing! You are the alpha, the one that your dog looks too for direction you just have to figure out what works for your dog’s personality.
If you are new to dog training it is a good idea to get some help. You do not have to hire a professional and break the budget you can use training videos and even online courses to help you to better understand how to train your dog.
An untrained dog is an unhealthy dog. Not physically unhealthy but mentally unhealthy. An untrained dog can be unruly and will look for other ways to get your attention. Big dogs especially need to be trained so that you have control of the situation at all times.
If you are trying and following all the suggestions that you can find and it just is not working out for you than maybe you do need to invest in a professional trainer that can help you to properly train your big dog. It will be an investment that will pay you back with years of happy and loving days with your big dog.