Training Tips

Training Tips


Whether you are introducing a puppy to the idea of being house broken or just trying to teach an old dog new tricks, here are a few training reminders that will help you get the best results from your pet:
 

 

  •  Everyone in your household should agree on cue words for commands so you don't confuse your dog. And keep the commands short. The longer and more complicated the command word is, the more trouble your dog will have recognizing it.
  • Be patient and calm. If training isn't enjoyable, it won't be effective. Training should be fun for both of you. If you don't enjoy the training, your dog will sense this, and he won't enjoy it either. He also won't look forward to the next session.
  • Don't raise your voice during training. If you are yelling at your dog, he won't respect you because the "leader of the pack" shouldn't have to yell for attention. In this case you're the leader of the pack. To respond to your commands, your dog must respect you and recognize you as such.
  • Shorter training sessions are better. Daily sessions of 5–10 minutes are better than twice weekly sessions of an hour. Shorter training sessions help your dog stay motivated. If the training session goes on for too long the learning process will go backwards. It's also a good idea to incorporate training sessions into daily activities.
  • Don't rush your dog's training. Make sure your dog understands and is comfortable with a command before moving to a more difficult command. If he doesn't respond to a command after repeated attempts, don't reward him. Go back to an earlier command that he understands and work up from there.
  • Training should always end on a positive note. To ensure the training session ends with your dog feeling happy, give him a command you are sure he can perform and reward him when he completes the command. If the training session doesn't end on a positive note your dog will not look forward to the next session.
  • Praise and positive reinforcement are more powerful and safer than punishment. It's important that your dog enjoy the training. Don't acknowledge misbehavior with punishment. If you lose your temper and yell at your dog, you may be reinforcing his behavior by giving him attention. Although it's not positive attention, it is attention. Chances are your dog just doesn't understand what is expected of him. With patience and consistency from you, he will eventually understand what you expect of him.
  • To motivate your dog, reward him with what will be of the most interest to him during that session. For example, if the training session occurs just after your dog has eaten, then a food reward may not motivate him as much as it would if used before a meal. If he has been alone most of the day and you have just returned home from work, the best reward may be petting and praise. Figure out what best motivates your dog for each training session.
  • Cut back on food rewards for actions that are consistently performed on command. Once your dog understands a command, you should decrease the amount of times you give him food rewards to let him know he won't always be getting a treat when he responds to commands. Decrease food rewards to every 3 or 4 times your dog performs a command correctly. As you decrease the treats, continue to praise your dog when he responds correctly to a command.
  • Don't over-praise. If you over-praise, your dog may be so distracted that he doesn't remember what it is he's being praised for. Praising your dog by petting him and saying "good dog" in a happy voice, and giving him a small treat, are enough to reward him.
  • Dogs have very short attention spans. In order for your dog to understand that he is being rewarded for his actions, he should be rewarded immediately after performing the action. If you reward him 5 minutes later he may enjoy the treat and praise, but he won't associate them with his training.
  • Be realistic. If your dog is full of energy, it will be difficult for him to concentrate on training commands that involve being still, like "sit" or "down/stay." Take him for a walk first, and then begin the training session.
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