Category Training Tips

Keep it Fun! Smile!

Your dog knows that a smile on your face is a good thing and he will be more interested in staying with you. STAND TALL! Leaning over our dogs can be stressful to them. It’s a type of social pressure – like your boss leaning over your shoulder while you work. Training shouldn’t be work – it should be fun for both you and your dog!

Be Patient

Remember you are teaching your dog a new language. Just because he got it right yesterday doesn’t necessarily mean he understands the new cue today. Just like us, your dog needs practice and repetition to truly learn a new concept.

Reinforcement Should Come in Different Forms

Although it is easiest to use treats to initially train your dog, it is most useful to soon introduce toys, verbal praise, and life rewards as additional reinforcement for desired behaviors. Examples of life rewards are going for a ride in the car, being let outside, or being given permission to say hello to a friend. Varying your types of reinforcement will help to keep your dog motivated to learn.

Don’t Become an Automatic Treat Dispenser

Treats are used as information to the dog during the initial training phases. Once your dog completely understands the new lesson, you no longer need to offer treats for that behavior. As you work through the proofing process, you will continue to challenge your dog and offer treats for his commitment to the exercise. For example, when you ask Fido to “Sit”, he immediately plops his haunches on the ground. Fido understands what “Sit” means. Instead of offering a treat, tell him he is a “Good Boy”. However, if Fido is practicing “Sit” and he maintains that sit while another dog runs by, Fido is demonstrating he is committed to the “Sit” and should be offered a reward.

Be Consistent

For example, if you want to teach your dog to sit politely when meeting a stranger, be sure to ALWAYS require your dog to sit politely and wait to be released to “Say Hello”. You dog can only learn the rules if the rules remain the same always. This takes commitment on the part of the trainer. If you become lazy, you will only confuse your dog. The more consistent you are, the quicker your dog will develop the desired habit.

Incorporate Training into Your Daily Life

Your dog is always learning. Do not limit your rewards to training sessions. Keep non-perishable treats available in many different places so you can practice your new tricks frequently. As you are brushing your teeth, ask your dog for a “high five”, before your dog jumps into the car have him sit, as you are making dinner ask your dog to “down” outside the kitchen. Keep your dog always guessing which game he will play with you to earn his reward. Also, be sure to acknowledge correct choices and desirable behaviors even if you don’t ask for them. A smile and a “Good Dog” can help your dog understand how he should behave.

Keep Your Training Sessions Short and Focused

Several short focused training sessions throughout the day are more beneficial than one long session. You and your dog will stay more motivated and your dog will probably grasp the training concept faster. Teaching too many tricks at one time can be confusing for your dog.

Keep Your Cues Pure

Each command you teach should only mean one thing. For example… A common mistake people make is to use the word “Down” to lie down and also to get off the furniture, counter, or a person. “Down” should only mean to lie down; “Off” should be used to have your dog put his feet back on the floor.

Change Your Thinking

REWARD THE BEHAVIORS YOU WANT TO TEACH, instead of punishing the behaviors you want to stop. For example, if your dog jumps up on you to greet you and you would prefer he keep ‘four on the floor’, find a way to reward your dog while he is “grounded” and BEFORE he jumps up on you. For very exuberant dogs, you may need to teach your dog to sit while he greets you.

Only Give Your “Cue” Once

Give your dog time to figure out what you want him to do. If you keep repeating the cue, it will take longer for the dog to figure out what gets him rewarded. Or, he may think that the cue is “Sit, Sit, Sit, Sit”.

I'm so proud of the many changes I have seen in her over the past couple of months & will continue to strive for higher achievements with both of my dogs. Thank you so much for everything. You make learning simple & straightforward & explain yourself very well.

~ Angela from Hollis

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