Top 10 Tips for Easy Training
courtesy Best Paw Forward, Nanaimo
1. "Ditch the Bowl"
● Stop feeding your dog from a bowl. Use your food to interact with and reward your dog throughout the day.
2. Reinforcement builds behaviour
● Reward your dog for behaviour you like, and your dog is more likely to make that choice again.
● In the beginning, you should be rewarding every instance of a behaviour that you like.
3. Be consistent with your cue words and training.
● For example, choose "down" or "lie down," as the cue for your dog to lie down, not both. Everyone must be on the same page with the cue words.
● You can only teach your dog not to pull on leash by NEVER letting them do so—consistency is key!
4. Don’t allow rehearsal of inappropriate behaviours. Manage until training has taken effect.
● The more a dog does something, whether we like it or not, the more it becomes habit. Your dog should not be allowed to practice inappropriate behaviour. For example, your dog cannot jump on strangers or bark at people outside if he is in his crate enjoying a chew.
5. Utilize your distraction list.
● You can use those distractions as reinforcement. For example, your dog sits for a stranger and the stranger moves forward to greet your dog.
6. Say training cues only once.
● Say “sit," not “sit...sit...sit...siiiiit.” You want your dog to respond to you the first time, not the tenth.
7. Keep training sessions short and frequent to prevent boredom—for everyone.
● Every interaction you have with your dog is a training opportunity.
● Puppies have a low attention span so short, frequent sessions are essential to their learning.
8. Practice, practice, practice.
● Dogs do not generalize behaviours well, so we must practice even the most simple behaviours often and in a variety of environments.
● Practice every single day—at each meal to start. It takes 5 minutes to feed your dog, a perfect training session.
9. Do not punish or get angry at your dog.
● Punishment simply has no place in dog training and will only serve to damage your relationship with your dog.
● Your dog is not being “spiteful” or trying to upset you; they simply don’t have the mental capacity for this.
10. Set your dog up to succeed by increasing the challenges in tiny increments.
● Challenge your dog but be realistic; do not overwhelm him. If your pup’s success rate is 80% of the time or more, you are ready to up the challenge. If your dog is less than 80% successful, you need to make whatever you are asking him to do easier for him to get it right.
● Each time you interact with your dog, ask yourself, “How do I make sure that my puppy will be successful with what I am about to ask of him?”
Remember, always end on a positive note, and enjoy your dog!