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I think it's important to at least cover the basics with your dog.
Well - mannered friendly dogs are a pleasure to have around and it's nice to be able to take your dog to the park, on public transport, to friends' houses, to the pub etc without any anxiety about their behaviour.
Sit, stay, down and no are all essential. Kisses, barking on command, playing dead, twirling around and so many other things are fun optional additions.
Training is not only fun for both you and your dog, but it also strengthens the bond between you.
The key to successful training is little and often and most important is CONSISTENCY!
Remember to keep sessions short - dogs get bored easily and going over the same thing again and again can get stressful as well make your dog anxious.
Personally I think reward-based training is the best but at the same time being the top dog so not only is your dog obedient, but they can relax knowing that they don't need to take on the role.
It is not fair to punish your dog for not learning a command as quickly as you would like to and don't confuse not understanding with being naughty.
Most dogs want to please their owner, they may just need a bit more time to learn and understand what is expected of them.
I don't follow any set school of training for my dogs but some of the most common forms can be divided into:
This is based on the premise that a dog chooses its own actions.
Koehler maintained that a dog's behaviour is an act of choice based on its life experience.
The premise is that if the dogs thinks their actions will lead to reward they will repeat them but if they lead to punishment they will avoid them.
Many of his punishments would now be considered inhumane and unacceptable.
The idea behind this model is to reinforce the good behaviour with rewards and praise and importantly, to completely ignore any unwanted behaviour.
This method requires a great deal of patience and can be difficult to avoid unintentionally rewarding unwanted behaviour.
This is also popular amongst horse trainers and owners. A metal cricket originally adapted from a child's toy is used.
It is basically a positive reinforcement training system based on operant conditioning.
It can be delivered faster and with more precision, than primary reinforcers such as food.
Timing is imperative - the conditioned reinforcer must be delivered at the exact time the desired behaviour is displayed.
Initially the clicker is used at the same time the primary reinforcer is offered (usually treats!) then eventually both the clicker and food are faded out.
This is a popular method because it produces results and does not require any correcting or punishing of the dog.
A famous trainer who advocated these methods is Caesar Milan.
The idea is that the owner of the dog is always the pack leader.
Common practices to reinforce this include:
Walking through door ways first
Eating meals before feeding the dog
Walking in front on walks
Not allowing your dog onto furniture and certainly not your bed.
It is based on the theory that dogs are essentially domesticate wolves and so need to be dominated by an alpha 'top dog'.
Trainers who are not a fan of this style of training say that it can in fact make problems such as aggression and anxiety worse and that it does not deal with the underlying problem causing the unwanted behaviour.
I truly do believe that the key is fairness, patience and CONSISTENCY.