Dog's can be man's best friend or a snarling, drooling nightmare: it all comes down to how well they are brought up, and how thoroughly they are trained. Luckily, dogs are generally obedient beasts and are both willing and able to learn quickly. And if you want a healthy and happy dog, you need to feed it well, give it loads of love, and train it like a pro.
Have you ever heard of positive reinforcement? It's a training method based on Pavlov's theories and follows this basic structure: expected behavior - sound - reward. When the dog does what is expected of him (he sits, lies down, he stops barking), the owner makes a sound (usually with a small device called a clicker), then rewards the dog for his good behaviour. By doing this over and over again, the actions are imbedded as good behaviour and after a while, the dog will eventually do it on demand, with or without a reward being given.
Like the sound of that? Then give it a go! There's quite a selection of apps out there that can turn your smartphone into an effective, dog-training clicker. We're going with Doggy Clicker, and we'd recommend you do the same.
So you've got the app, and the unruly dog... now what?
How to train your dog using a clicker app on your Android:
1. Install and open Doggy Clicker (or whichever clicker app you prefer).
2. Choose from the selection of "click" sounds. You can use the same sound for all orders or choose specific ones for each different task. (Big tip: Don't click away willy-nilly in front of your dog, else the sound won't be effective later on).
3. During the first few days you should associate the sound with a reward. After clicking, you should give your dog a treat (start with food, and then later move on to petting or praising).
4. Once your dog has understood that a reward will come after the click, you can start creating situations where your dog can use the desired behavior correctly. Don't give any orders yet. Just let your dog behave naturally or push them gently in the right direction.
5. Just before your dog does the desired action, click, and reward him straight away.
6. Repeat this process every day for 15 to 20 minutes.
7. Once your dog has understood the good behavior, you can introduce orders with words or gestures.
8. When the good behavior is consolidated and strongly linked to an order (and not the clicker), you can return to step 4 and begin the process for a new behaviour.
*If you have any doubts, you can always check the instructions and the clicker training advice included in the app.
Do you have a dog that could do with some training? Tell us about your most effective training methods in the Comments section.