When training a dog or puppy, the secret to success is success. If there is progress during training sessions, human and canine will be more likely to want to continue training. If it doesn’t seem like anything is happening, the dog may become less attentive and the owner may procrastinate, or stop training all together. Here are seven dog training tips that work for dogs or puppies which will make sessions more productive for everyone.
Tip 1: Don’t Train when the dog is over stimulated.
While puppies seem like bundles of energy, even older dogs can become over stimulated for effective training. Regardless of age, dogs need regular exercise to keep them healthy. If the owner plans a training session after a nice walk, the animal is more inclined to pay attention because they have burned off any excess energy. This will help keep the frustration level for the owner down, and with a calm owner, the animal will calm too and be able to focus on the new command.
Tip 2: Find a good time of day for the trainer and the pet
Along with scheduling training sessions after exercise, the owner should also take into account the dog’s best time of day for training. Like people, there are times when animals are better able to concentrate than others. The first thing in the morning may not be appropriate because they are wide awake and full of energy. Late at night, when everyone is tired, is also not a good idea. If the owner pays attention to their pet, they will notice when the dog seems able to be alert and willing to learn.
Tip 3: Give pets plenty of attention before starting to train them
While this dog training tip may seem to be important only for puppies, even adult dogs need to have fun time with their owner in addition to training sessions. For puppies, playtime and quiet affection are effective ways to form bonds with their people. Once dogs love and trust their owners, they will strive to please them, making training sessions more productive.
Sometimes people forget how much attention pets still need when they are older. Puppies are fun and cute, and more insistent on gaining the attention of those around them. Once a puppy grows into a dog, that attention often wanes because they are not as cute or persistent. Dogs are pack animals, and they need the love and affection from the members of their pack, even if that pack consists of humans and animals. The attention also strengthens the bond that developed in puppyhood, making the training sessions less strained.
Tip 4: Don’t be aggressive
Aggressive behavior includes more than just actions that could be considered abusive, it can include physical reprimands and yelling. Pack leaders in the canine world are firm, but not cruel. When people yell at or hit their pets, this makes the animal skittish and erodes the foundation of trust the owner is trying to build. If a reprimand is needed, it is better to be firm, swift and fair. Let the animal know their behavior isn’t acceptable by saying a phrase like “bad dog”. Then put the pet in their crate or in another room. This canine time out is very effective because being separated from others is a worse form of punishment to a dog than it is for troublesome teenagers who seem to enjoy the solitude.
It is also important that bad behavior is not rewarded, even accidentally. If the animal is barking for attention, giving in to them will only reinforce that behavior. If the behavior is ignored, they may continue until they receive the reaction they are looking for. Don’t enable bad behavior. Acknowledge the behavior, let them know it is unacceptable, and then remove them to another room or their crate for some time alone.
Tip 5: Keep sessions short
Dogs, especially puppies, have short attention spans. Do not make training sessions too long or the dog will lose interest. By conducting short, twenty-minute sessions with a few minutes of play time afterwards, the dog pay more attention and get the most out of sessions.
Tip 6: Reward little steps
Because the training sessions are short, do not try to overreach. If the session goal is to teach the dog to sit, help the animal to learn the command in stages. First, say the word and press gently on their hind quarters, after that, praise them when they sit so they know to correlate the action with the command. Then praise them when they sit on command without assistance from the owner. Afterwards, have them sit and stay in that position for a few minutes. By breaking the command into stages, the pet understands what is required of them and the small goals help the owner see progress.
Tip 7: Don’t use confusing commands
When teaching new commands to a puppy or dog, the owner shouldn’t use words that may confuse them. For example, if training a puppy to urinate or defecate on command, don’t use phrases like “go pee” or “go poop”. The reason for this is because if the animal hears these words when used in a different context, they will perform on command somewhere you don’t want them to go. Some trainers use nonsense words that aren’t used in everyday conversation to eliminate confusion.
It is also important to create a command to let the animal know that they can stop a certain behavior. If an animal is supposed to sit, lie down, or stay, they need to know when the trainer releases them so they can get up or move. Again, don’t use “stop” or “okay” as this may be confusing outside of training sessions.
These 7 dog training tips will help strengthen the bond between dog and human. They will also make training sessions more productive, so that the owner and pet will be more encouraged to continue them. It is important to have fun with a pet, and not just train them to behave.