Training and Socializing
If you want your dog to be well-behaved, obedient, calm and balanced, it is of utmost importance for him to be properly trained and socialized. At a very early age. But before starting with the process of training and socializing, it is important to be well informed about different options, how they work and how effective they are.
Reward vs Punishment Training
Most training methods are based on rewarding good behavior or punishing misbehavior. The end goal of both is a well-behaved, obedient and balanced dog but while the reward approach focuses on the positives, punishment-based training methods focus on discouraging undesirable behavior.
Both reward and punishment training can be very effective. When the dog is rewarded for a particular behavior either by receiving a treat, praise or something else that brings him pleasure, he will associate that behavior with enjoyment and will be happy to repeat it in the future. Punishment of unwanted behavior, for example being taken away or denied the things he finds enjoyable, on the other hand, will discourage the dog to repeat it to avoid negative consequences.
There is also a third approach which foresees asserting dominance and establishing oneself as the “pack leader”. This method has become increasingly popular in the recent years but not all cynologists and dog experts/trainers support it. On the other hand, there is no agreement on the reward and punishment approaches either. While some claim that dog training should involve only rewarding good behavior, others say it is just as important to sanction misbehavior. But they all agree on one thing. No matter which training method you choose, it is necessary to stick to it and be consistent.
Dog Socialization Just as Important as Training
Poorly socialized dogs are much more likely to bite, bark excessively and get into fights with other dogs or be abnormally fearful of unfamiliar people, dogs, environments (e.g. vet’s office) or noises. So if you want your dog to behave well when other people and animals are around, and stay calm and relaxed in a wide range of situations and environments, it is crucial for him to be well socialized.
The Best Time to Start Training and Socializing Your Dog
It is never too late to start training and socializing your dog. But the longer you wait, the more difficult it will get. This is because after the age of 18 weeks, dogs become very wary of everything that is new including people, places, other dogs and pets, noises, etc. If you don’t want your dog to bite other people, bark like crazy on everything and everyone passing by your house, or hide/run away when being exposed to something/someone unfamiliar, it is highly important to start socializing your pet early – ideally, at the age of 7 to 8 weeks. The same counts for training. The earlier you start the better.
Professional Help and Training/Socialization Classes
If you think that you need some professional help and guidance, don’t hesitate to seek it. Dog trainers and experts are eager to help you train and socialize your dog through group classes and private sessions. If you are having difficulties choosing a class or/and trainer, ask your veterinarian for advice.