You recently gained a new member to your family, and you want the best for them. What is a wonderful way to create a lifelong bond while also building great habits? Training of course! Today I will share my top 10 tips to create a happy and healthy relationship, while also making the process of training easier for both you and your furry friend.
10. Set Realistic Expectations
One of the quickest ways many people find failure in training at home is by setting unrealistic expectations in a short amount of time. As unfortunate as it may be, your 4 month old puppy will not be doing backflips after a week of training, he may not even be laying down at that matter! One of the best ways to ensure success is to never ever set yourself or your puppy up for failure. It is very realistic that your puppy will learn to sit on command in a week's time but it is not realistic that your puppy will know how to sit, stay, roll and come in the same timeline.
9. Keep it Simple
It is extremely hard not to over complicate commands when training your puppy. It is very important to remember that dogs do not speak English, and they are learning based on noise and body language. Keep it as simple as possible when giving commands by using one-worded orders when applicable such as “down” instead of “lay down”. It is also important to keep commands associated with the same action. “Down” is associated with laying down while “Off” is associated with keeping paws off things they are not supposed to mess with!
8. Consistency is Key
When training, you want to make sure to keep consistent with your commands, body language, and rewards. Since dogs do not understand language the same way we do, the best way to teach them is by staying consistent! Never tempt a reward without following through. Also be sure to not mix up multiple commands hoping for the same outcome such as using “off” and “leave it” to coax them away from counter surfing.
7. Make it Fun
Training dogs is comparable to teaching small children, the best method is to make it fun! The more play and affection that is integrated into training sessions, the more likely your new dog is going to retain the information you are teaching them. When you integrate fun into sessions, your bond is going to strengthen with your dog, furthermore creating a loyal connection between you two. The more your dog likes you, the more they will want to please you! Loyal dogs enjoy making their owners happy, so when you strengthen your relationship, it also strengthens your dog's motivation to learn.
6. Positive Reinforcement
Positive reinforcement training boosts a healthy relationship and puppy morale! Your new dog is learning about you every training session, and when using a “yes” based method of training you are letting your dog know whenever you arehappy with them! Rewarding satisfactory work teaches not only what you like to see but diminishes activities that you do not like to see.
5. Incorporate Tools
There are many tools on the market these days to help make training much simpler for you and your new dog. There are long leashes, martingale collars, and clickers! Although many of these tools are beneficial for you, it’s important to take your dog's personality into play and obtain tools like toys or training treats for them to make your sessions fun. Research the market and find what tools help you obtain your goals.
4. No Repetition
There is a saying amongst the dog training community called “sit, sit, sit” syndrome. As your new dog is trying to navigate this new world, they will cling to whatever noise you associate with the command you give them. It is crucial when training to only state your command once, then either reward or reset if the action is not completed to avoid confusion.
3. Keep Sessions Short
Daily training sessions should be no longer than 30 minutes to an hour. If sessions are too long your new dog will become disinterested, overworked, and frustrated. The younger your puppy, the shorter the sessions should be. If you are training a very young puppy, take a break every 10 minutes or so to do some playtime and reset! The last thing you want is a headstrong puppy who has lost interest in learning.
2. Body Language
It is a well-known fact that animals cannot speak to one another. So how do they communicate? Through their body language of course! Dogs, like many animals, move their body in a way to communicate to each other what they need, think, or feel. Once you learn how dogs speak to each other, it becomes almost second nature to communicate to your new dog through movement and expressions.
1. Be Patient
My biggest tip is much easier said than done. Training takes time, a lot of it for that matter. Even when staying consistent it can take your new dog weeks or even months to learn new things depending on their breed, age, and drive. Even as a professional, I find this to be the most difficult part of training, especially with my own two pups at home! The best thing you can do for your dog is have patience and celebrate every little milestone, even if it seems insignificant in the grand scheme of things.