The speed at which your dog learns each new skill will depend on what the skill is, how consistent it is taught, the ways that she is rewarded, and patience. The very first element of dog training starts with you. You MUST be in the right frame of mind before beginning a session. Forget what just happened with the kids. Forget about what’s going on at work. It’s just you and your pooch. You must be calm, confident, assertive, and in the right frame of mind when training.
1. A Solid Foundation for Your Dog Begins with the Basics
Knowing the Basic Commands has several advantages for your dog:
- She develops good manners through learning basic skills.
- Having a solid base is essential to learning more complex skills later.
- Basic commands can be used in a multitude of situations.
Here is a list of the basic commands to start your pooch out with:
- Look: Looks at you for direction. Gets her attention if distracted.
- Sit: Sits where told
- Down: Lays down where told
- Wait: Waits in a spot (sitting, lying or standing) until released – Usually temporary
- Stay: Waits in a spot (sitting, lying or standing) until released – Usually longer period of time
- Come: Comes to you when called
- Off: Get down from a person or object, such as furniture
- Leave it: Leaves an object alone. This could be food that is harmful, a toy, etc.
- Heel: Walks nicely beside you with a loose lead.
Having everyone in the family on board with training is very important. Similar to children, dogs will learn that they can get away with bad behaviors if some family members allow certain behaviors and others don’t. It’s not that it’s intentional, but it’s confusing for them. With everyone on the same page, you will see new skills learned quicker and bad behaviors disappear.
If you feel you don’t have enough time for “formal” training sessions, try having smaller sessions 15 to 20 minutes at a time at least 3 times a day. You can also work on skills while you are home with her. Catch her doing “good” things.
Example: Say your dog has not completely learned the “Down” command. As you are watching TV one evening, you look over at her and see her lying down. Say to her, “Good Down!” This reinforces the good behavior. This method in conjunction with regular short training sessions will help her master skills quicker.
Rewards are one of the highlights of your dog’s day and these can come in many forms. While some dogs are food driven and love a tasty morsel as a treat, others thrive on toys or play as a reward. Using your dog’s preferred reward will enable you to teach new skills much quicker.
Since play is many times a reward in itself, teaching a new skill while playing can also work very well.
4. Positivity and Patience
Training your dog is a very rewarding experience, but it can also be frustrating at times. Think about how you feel when you’re not in the mood to go for a walk, get out of bed, or do chores. Your dog feels the same way sometimes. Don’t fuss or get frustrated when they don’t behave like you think they should. When teaching new skills, some will take longer than others simply because your dog may not enjoy one skill as much as she does another. Just remember to be patient. Don’t let your dog see you frustrated. If you begin to feel frustrated, walk away for a few minutes. Dogs sense your feelings and they need stability. Keep things positive. Always. Every day.
Dog training takes patience and lots of it. The more time you work on their skills and the more consistent you are with them, the quicker you will get the results you want. If you have any questions about any of these dog training techniques or would like to schedule a consultation, call or contact me today at 762-218-3708. We currently serve the Evans/Grovetown area.
Have some behavioral problems you wish you could eliminate? Next week I’ll be covering Solving Common Behavioral Problems in the final part of this series.
*NOTE: If your dog is unresponsive to these techniques or you don’t feel comfortable implementing them, contact a trainer who is familiar with behavior modification in dogs. Do NOT attempt to do anything that will jeopardize your safety.
4 Essential Elements to Effective Dog Training
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