This refers to the process of teaching a dog to perform certain actions in response to certain commands which the dog is trained to understand. It is a general term which does not, by itself, describe what or how the dog is taught. There are many methods and objectives of training. Dogs may be trained to:
- follow obedience commands (part of obedience training)
- perform tricks casually or for circus acts
- be a guide dog to lead the blind
- be a rescue dog to find victims of a disaster
- be a hunting dog to aid in hunting
- aid in herding, tracking, coursing, and retrieving
- follow agility commands
- serve as a guard animal
Most dogs, no matter what their eventual advanced training or intended purpose, live with people who want them to behave in a way that make them pleasant to be around, keep them safe, and provide for the safety of other people and pets. Dogs do not figure out basic obedience on their own; they must be trained.
Dogs as Pack Animals
As pack animals, dogs have natural instincts that favor cooperation with their fellow dogs. Many domestic dogs, either through instinct or breeding, can correctly interpret and respond to signals given by a human handler.
Dogs can be followers or leaders. The owner or handler must act as the leader of the pack, projecting positive energy and confidence.
Basic Pet Obedience Training
This usually consists of (6) six behaviors:
- Recall ("come", "here" or "in")
- Close (or loose-leash walking)
The hardest part of training is communicating with the dog in a humane way that he understands. However, the underlying principle of all communication is simple: reward desired behavior while ignoring or correcting undesired behavior.
Corrections should never include harmful physical force or violence. Using force while training is controversial and should not be taken lightly, because even if it ends the behavior, when applied inappropriately with some dogs it may lead to a loss of drive (enthusiasm for the given task), stress, and in some cases even aggression. A handler may decide to use force, however, the standard used by most trainers is the minimum amount necessary to inhibit the unwanted behavior.
A simple nudge, poke or a firm "shhh" are included in corrections.