- Play Work Play = PLAY:
Dogs are players. If we don’t give them sufficient and effective exercise time we are working against ourselves and no one is happy. Before every training session play with your dog, hike with your dog, have a doggie playdate. Getting this need met makes it easier for your dog to learn because it takes the edge off and allows them to pay attention and focus. Training then turns out to be one big happy play session, there for play, then train, then play after each session becomes play, play, play.
- Learn to read your dogs body language:
Dogs first language is body language and energy. Knowing when your dog is stressed, excited, anxious, fearful or ready to play is key to everything you do with your dog. Being aware of your own body language is critical in training because that’s all they’re doing, watching your reactions and responses to know how they should respond. Dog Decoder, an app about dog body language is a teaching tool in the palm of your hands.
- Keep training sessions short:
And I mean short. Walking on the leash, teaching sit or any command, riding in the car, not running out the front door to danger, meeting new people or dogs; short as in 5 minutes or less. Seriously, don’t train your puppy or adult dog for 30 min or more. Train several times a day but no longer than 5 min for each session. Keeping these sessions short allows the dog to rest and think about what just happened.
- Start on familiar turf:
Start all new training session at home inside first, graduating to bigger distraction in very short increments. For example: Teaching any command for your very short training time 5 min or less and get this solid before you move to your backyard and then get it solid there until you move to your front yard, get it solid there before you move to your sidewalk. Don’t go from A to Z without making each new thing you teach solid. This will give a solid foundation with everything you teach and your dog will have more trust in you and more confidence in himself. Work your way up to a 10 distraction for your dog. Each dog is distracted by different things so you want to start at a 1 and graduate to a 10 distraction over a period of weeks.
- Teach ‘STAY’:
STAY is the most important command you can teach your dog. It teaches patience and focus. A solid stay is the foundation to everything. Teaching stay in the manner described above will be the best thing you can do for you and your dog. Did you know that Search and Rescue dogs have to learn a 1 hour DOWN/STAY? Why? Because if they have the patience and focus to stay for that long in their biggest distraction they will then have the stamina and focus to find the person in an avalanche, or ground zero, etc.
- Leash Walking:
Teaching your to do walk should be taught as a training session. Remember, before each training session we are playing with our dog to wear him out but not completely, just to get the edge off so he still has the mental and physical capacity to learn. Since this is a training session, you’re not going out for a long walk with your dog, instead your walk will be 5 min and back inside you go. You will lengthen the time you walk as you see success in your short walks. Teach your dog to walk by making many turns. You are walking your dog not the other way around. By turning around when your dog walks ahead of you while praising and encouraging him to move in your direction with treats will teach your dog to pay attention to you. Gradually, you will take more steps before you make a turn, eventually taking longer enjoyable walks with your dog while having a nice tension free leash.
- On the same page:
Everyone in the family needs to be involved in the training of the dog. I know that’s hard in some families because not everyone is around or even interested in having a dog. The key here is that the dog IS a part of the family so even those uninterested need to express their issues and goals for the dog so that the dog doesn’t get confused with conflicting messages. Communication is key not only in your own connection with your dog but between each other to keep everyone on the same page.