Have you seen all of these great training videos and tv shows about training dogs? It seems so easy! You think to yourself, “Why can’t my dog learn that fast? What am I doing wrong?” The truth is, it doesn’t always happen that fast. That’s the magic of TV. Training videos are demonstrations. What you don’t see many times is that training involves more than just showing your dog how to do something, giving them a treat, and then they remember it next time. Most humans don’t even have that good of a memory. If you follow my Optimal Dog Training Formula, you will be amazed at the results.
Training Starts with You
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 start 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.
The Optimal Dog Training Formula
- Begin a new skill in a quiet room with no distractions. Once your dog has mastered the skill, you can move her to a different area of the house.
- Go over the skill again and again until she’s mastered it in the new room. Different surroundings can throw a dog for a loop so this part is important.
- Now you’re ready for the real test. Take her outside on a lead and have her perform the skill. If she doesn’t respond, don’t panic. This is perfectly normal. Go back to the last place she mastered the skill and begin again.
- Don’t forget that some skills will take longer. It may take several days or more before your dog has a particular skill mastered.
Don’t Forget Consistency
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.
Using a clicker is a great way to mark the correct completion of a skill. If you don’t have a clicker, you can replace it with a chosen word marker, like “Yes”. Whether you use a clicker or a word to mark behavior, it is imperative to mark the desired behavior at just the right time. Failing to do so will mark the wrong behavior.
In the beginning of teaching a new skill, give your pooch a treat at every successful completion. Once she is comfortable with the skill, give her a treat on every other completion. After that, give her a treat every 2 completions and so on. You may praise her instead when you don’t give her a treat. This will ensure your dog will know the skills without having to have a treat. Decreasing the treats keeps her guessing as to when she will be rewarded. She will continue with the skill hoping for the next reward.
If you have any questions about Training Your Dog or would like to schedule a consultation, call or contact me today at 762-218-3708. We currently serve the Columbia County, GA area.
*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.