How to Train a Boxer Dog
Few dogs have the presence and personality of a Boxer. In addition to being one of the most majestic dog breeds, they are also working dogs that generally enjoy activity and learning. They are boisterous and energetic, and therefore can be difficult to get them to focus on the task in hand. However, Boxers are extremely smart and athletic, and they are very versatile animals.
Understanding Dog Training
1. Learn about dog training.
Educate yourself so you can teach your dog properly and avoid common training mistakes. The basic process of dog training is to reward behavior that you like and to make sure that behavior you don't like isn't rewarded. Each dog is unique, however, so learning the basics of dog behavior and basic dog training will provide you with the proper foundation for understanding the process of training your pet. No one method is “perfect,” so your research will help you decide which approach to use.
- There are methods of dog training based on only positive training techniques, versus techniques that balance positive and negative reinforcement. You may try a method and find that you are not getting the results you want and decide to try another. An experienced dog trainer will be able to help you troubleshoot roadblocks.
- Read dog training books and watch videos of training techniques. There are a lot of dog training videos on the internet and lots of dog training books in print, so make sure that the videos and books you choose are from experts in dog training.
2. Learn about the Boxer breed.
Boxers are descended from hunting companion dogs, so they are active dogs that like a lot of time to jump, leap, and bound about. These dogs need exercise and stimulation every day or they might get bored, so stimulation is key to keeping them happy and obedient.
- You will need to keep your dog's temperament in mind when training them. You can't expect the same kind of behavior from every dog. When training a Boxer, you need to keep their high energy level and intelligence in mind.
3. Talk to other Boxer owners and trainers.
Go to dog shows and watch how owners and trainers interact with their dogs. In addition, pay attention to how Boxers respond to stimuli and commands.
- Visit dog trainers and ask if you can watch a few classes. You will learn a lot watching other people when you don’t have a dog of your own.
- See if you like the way the trainer works with the people and the dogs. You and your dog will learn better if you have a good learning relationship with your trainer. The Association of Professional Dog Trainers website is an excellent reference and place to start looking for a dog trainer to coach you and your pup.
Training a Boxer Puppy
1. Use food and praise as motivators.
Food is a powerful motivator for most dogs. Praise, in addition to a reward that is valuable to your dog, can be used to communicate to your dog that they have performed well.
- The timing of the reward is extremely important. Your praise and reward will need to come within two to three seconds of the behavior you are reinforcing. If the dog does something else in between the desired behavior and the reward, you are rewarding the last thing that the dog performed.
- Treats should be small and tasty. Consider three types: Low-, medium- and high-value treats. Keep these in your arsenal to help your dog learn commands.
2. Give your dog chew toys to avoid naughty chewing.
This includes rawhide bones as well as soft toys. By alternating toys you give your dog different textures to experience and hopefully keep your household items and trash safe from being chewed on or ingested.
- You can also use toys as a motivator for other kinds of training. Dogs with a high prey drive respond well to toys as a reward.
3. Spend short bursts of time training your puppy.
This means only about five to 10 minutes at a time. Multiple shorter training session are generally more effective than one long one, particularly for puppies under six months of age. Their attention span is short and puppies get tired; your patience will be worn thin trying to train an over tired puppy.
4. Keep training positive.
Training has to be upbeat and happy in order to get the maximum response from the dog. Play with the puppy in between and help them understand that people are fun and not all about “school” all the time.
5. Begin potty training your Boxer puppy.
Potty training a puppy requires a consistent bathroom schedule. Praise your puppy every time they go to the bathroom outside.
- If there is a potty accident in the house and you catch the puppy in the act, let them know that it's not good behavior by saying "no." Then take your pup outside until they potty.
- Take the puppy out every 20 to 30 minutes to increase the chance of their going outside. Then reward this behavior with a treat. The ideal situation is to take the puppy out after every nap; however, no matter how much you take them outside, your pup will probably still have messes inside the house.
- Keep your dog close to you during the months of potty training. Do not let the dog have run of the house because if you are not paying attention, your dog can sneak off and do their bathroom business without you noticing.
Training an Adult Boxer
1. Begin with dog training basics.
Training should really start from day one when the Boxer is still a puppy. If possible, don't wait until the dog is adult to start training or they will already have bad habits. With that in mind, Boxers are not necessarily any different than other dogs when it comes to basic training. If your dog does not know simple commands, such as sit and heel, then start with those. It is important to begin training by building trust between you and your dog. Keep training sessions happy and short and give the dog a break in between lessons for play and a drink.
- For example, rid your dog of barking issues by training them when to speak and when to be silent. You can do this by praising them for barking, reinforcing the word "speak," and giving the animal a treat. Later when the dog is barking, teach them the word "quiet," and reinforce the command when they become silent with a treat or a silent rub.
2. Train your Boxer to avoid breed-specific problems.
For instance, you will want to train your dog to avoid jumping up on people. Begin training by walking away backward and telling your dog the key phrase of "off" or "down." Only praise or reward your dog when all of their feet are back on the ground. You might consider teaching your dog to sit to greet newcomers as a substitute behavior for their jumping.
- You can also train your Boxer to "give." This will help you ward off any guarding behavior later. You, as a dog parent, should be able to take any possession or food away from your dog. But in order to teach that to a dog, start out by doing an exchange. Offer a reward at first every time the dog gives you what you are trying to take away.
- Then eventually begin substituting food with praise until eventually all it takes is a little praise to motivate the dog.
3. Consider crate training your Boxer.
Crate training is recommended for Boxers as a means of housebreaking the dog while you are away. Teach your Boxer to kennel by making sure that the crate becomes your dog's safe place. This draws on a dog's natural instinct to have a den. It should not be a punishment area, but instead work with your dog to make it a fun area by associating the word "kennel" or "go to bed" or something similar with the act of kenneling up. Be consistent with your phrasing, and use treats as needed to initially entice the animal into the pen. Make sure that your Boxer's crate makes them feel comfortable and does not become a source of anxiety for the dog. Here are the basic steps to crate training:
- Leave the door open and stock the crate with treats so the dog discovers them and thinks what a great place the crate is.
- Praise the dog when they go in of their own accord.
- Feed the dog in the crate so they associate it with good things.
- The first time you shut the door, praise the dog when they are quiet and only close the door for a minute. Gradually extend the time the door is closed, until they accept it as a great thing because they get a reward afterwards.
- For more international Boxer resources, visit https://boxerworld.com/. This site can give you training information, forums and articles to help you further along your training endeavors.