Spring training with your dog

PDSA reveals 1.4 million dogs receive no training at all, as the vet charity offers top training tips for dog owners.

As the days are getting longer, spring finally feels like it’s here, and with more light, many dog owners will be looking forward to longer evening walks with their pet.

PDSA’s latest PAW report found that 1.1 million UK dogs have receive absolutely no training, so the vet charity is urging pet owner to use the longer, lighter evenings to spend time training their four-legged friends.

PDSA Vet Olivia Anderson-Nathan, said: “Now is a great time of year to make sure your dog has a basic level of obedience for when you are out and about as you can practice outside as well.

“Having a well-trained dog is important to help them understand what you expect and also as a bit of mental exercise, but it also helps keep them safe. For example, good recall can allow your dog to enjoy some much-needed time off the lead, and good walking “manners” can keep them safe near roads.

“Training gives you a deeper understanding of your dog and can be started at any age. It really is possible to teach an old dog new tricks, though it can take longer to change those ingrained habits.”

PDSA offer some top training tips to help pet dog owners:

Make it rewarding for them

Make sure that the reward is something your dog will really enjoy, such as a small piece of food, playing with their favourite toy or even just getting petted if that’s what they love the most.

Keep it short and sweet

Doing training sessions little and often maintains the fun and can help avoid you and your dog becoming frustrated. Ten minutes is about as much as most dogs will want to do per session. Always end on a high with something your dog is already super good at.

Clear commands

Always use the same word for each command and accompany with a hand signal to avoid confusion. Be consistent with what you are asking for and how you are asking for it.

Practice makes perfect

Your dog probably won’t understand a new command first time, but with repetition, patients and positivity they will learn over time. For more complicated tricks, you might need to get advice from a trainer if you’re getting stuck.

Ignore mistakes

Some dogs will make mistakes. It’s not their fault and it doesn’t mean they can’t learn the taste, they might just need more practice. Ignore mistakes and reward instead whenever they do get it right.

Keep it positive

Some owner thinks dogs respond to shouting, intimidation or, worse, smacking them. But, they’ll also learn to be scared of you, and will perform the tasks out of fear or worry about punishment, and not because they want to.

Get everyone on board

Everyone who comes into contact with your pet should be following your example by praising correct behaviour, using the same commands and ignoring mistakes.

A note on nibbles

Dog and cat obesity is a big problem, so avoid creating a well-behaved but overweight pet. If you’re using treats for training, always take a portion from their normal food allowance so you can make sure they don’t go over on their calorie intake. You don’t need to reward them with a treat every single time they do a trick right-in fact rewarding them sometimes and just praising them the rest of the time once they’ve mastered it will actually make them keener to perform.

Olivia adds: “Dog training classes are a great way to learn how to train your dog. The Association of Pet Dog Trainers use only positive, proven methods and can recommend a trainer in your area.

For more information on training and socialisation you can visit www.pdsa.org.uk/dogbehaviour.