Guidelines that can make your dog training easier.
Teaching a pup new things can be tricky sometimes. We wouldn’t know how to handle all that energy at first, and teaching them when they’re older may be even more difficult.
These 11 guidelines will make training easier (and more fun) for you and your dog:
- Be consistent.
Use the same cue for the same command each time. If you use “come” one week, “come here” the next, and “come here, girl” the following, you’ll confuse your dog.
- Start simple and gradually make it harder.
…Wait until your dog has mastered the current challenge before you add a new one. If she flubs it, just take away one of the challenges and try again, going more slowly this time.
- Don’t repeat the command.
It’s easy to do, but it teaches your dog that she doesn’t need to respond promptly to the first command.
- Use food treats as lures and rewards.
…If your dog isn’t that interested in food, try offering verbal praise without the treat, a favorite toy, or a physical reward such as a good behind-the-ears scratch or tummy rub.
- Time it right.
The praise and reward needs to come immediately after the dog does what you want if she’s going to make the connection–“Hey, if I sit when she says ‘sit,’ I get a treat!”
- Make rewards sporadic, then phase them out.
Dogs are more motivated by unpredictable rewards. Once your dog gets the idea of what you’re asking her to do, dish out treats only for the best responses–the quickest sit, the best down…
- Keep it short and sweet.
Training will be most effective if it’s fun and you stop before either of you gets bored or frustrated. Keep the mood upbeat, not drill-sergeant serious, and make the sessions short…
- Mix up people and places.
If you want your dog to obey your child, your spouse, your dog walker, and so on, and to be as biddable in the kitchen as she is in the yard, practice having different people give commands in different settings.
- Keep your cool.
Yelling, hitting, or jerking your dog around by a leash won’t teach her how to sit or come on request. It will teach her that you’re scary and unpredictable, and that training’s no fun…
- Once your dog knows a few commands, practice “Nothing in life is free.”
Always ask your dog to obey a command before you give her a treat, a toy, a meal, a game or walk, a tummy rub, or anything she wants. If she ignores the command, put down the food bowl, the leash, or whatever she’s hoping for, and try again a minute or two later. This helps reinforce your role as the leader of the pack.
- Keep practicing.
Don’t expect that once your dog has learned something, she’s learned it for life. She can lose her new skills without regular practice.
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