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How Do Dogs Learn?

Dogs are surprisingly smart and have the capacity to learn quite a bit in a relatively short amount of time. With a little patience and the correct technique, you can teach your canine her name and how to follow basic commands. Today we will discuss some basic guidelines to keep in mind when bonding with your pet.

Teaching Your Dog Her Name

Have you recently brought home a new pet? Whether your dog is a young puppy or a rescued pet with an established name, you should be able to teach her how to recognize her new name within a few days. For some dogs, this may be as simple as constantly repeating their name when speaking to them. For others, you may need to get your pet to associate her name with training treats. When your dog is focusing on you, say her name clearly, and shortly after, give her a tasty treat. Wait for a few minutes and repeat this process. By doing this a few times over the course of the day, not only may you encourage your dog to learn her name, you may even encourage her to come to you immediately after you use it – success!

 It is important that you use your pet’s name with every command with the exception of “No” and “Stay”. It is also important that you avoid using your dog’s name when scolding her; this may cause her to associate her name with a negative feeling which may result in her ignoring her name in the future.

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Training Commands

The foundation of training should be based on correction and reward. Correction should never be harsh or angry, and should never involve physical punishment such as spanking or hurting your dog. All you need is your voice.  A firm “No!” is enough correction for most dogs. A reward is simply something your dog enjoys such as praise, getting to play with their favorite toy, or treats.

Most training should take place in a quiet area to avoid as many distractions as possible. When you receive a desired response, such as getting your pet to come when you command, utilize praise or another desired reward to reinforce the behavior. As mentioned before, you do not want to use your pet’s name when saying the Stay command. This may seem counter-intuitive, but it directly contradicts what you have taught your dog to do with several other commands (which is to be close to you). Avoiding using your pet’s name when training and using the Stay command can help reduce her confusion.

Positivity and Consistency

As mentioned in both the naming and training process, it is important that your dog associates the desired outcome with positive emotions so that she does not lose progress or outright ignore you. And as with any education, consistency is important. For example, if your dog is still learning her name, do not use a nickname. This will only confuse her and make it more difficult for her to identify her name when you speak to her. Hopefully you find these guidelines useful as you work to improve your bond with your pet.

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