You are training your dog with one goal in mind, to shape your dog’s behavior. Whether you’re training your dog on your own or using a professional trainer in Chandler, you can take steps to make the process easier on your dog and yourself. You want to teach them how to respond to you with the desired action. While this can be a challenge, patients and consistency are key. Let’s look at five ways you can help in the training process.
1) The Plan
Before you can look at your dog, give them a command, and achieve the desired action, you must have a plan. The steps you and everyone who’s part of your dog’s life will consistently use to help your dog learn what you’re asking of them and what they will do. Vocal commands play an important role because if your dog can’t see you, they can hear you. There are other training and command tools, such as using a clicker or whistle. Some people even like to train their dogs to respond to hand signals.
Whatever you’re going to do, you need to incorporate the complete plan from the beginning. Another significant part of preparing to train your dog is knowing the keywords used to achieve the desired action. For instance, if you use the word “sit” to teach your dog to sit, but your husband or children look at the dog and say “down” when asking the dog to sit. This can be very confusing for the dog. The final part of a good plan is a schedule. Customizing a program for the age (puppies like babies will sleep 14-18 hours a day) and knowing your dog’s needs will make the training go smooth.
2) Setting the Training Tone
You have more control over how training will go than you may even realize. As your dog is wildly running circles around you and jumping up with excitement, this is the second you need to set the tone for the rest of your training. If you scream “stop” at them, they might just stop and cower in a corner. If you are loud and overly assertive, your dog will react to those actions. I am sure you do not want to build a domineering relationship with your dog. Instead, you take a deep breath to give them a minute to check you over, but when they jump in a firm but loving voice, simply say, “sit.” It will take a few tries. You may even have to ignore them for a bit, but the minute they do sit is the moment you give praise.
The praise becomes a reward, while you have set the tone for training with a level of respect and love. Treats are a great reward, but dogs enjoy other things just as much. Body rubs and getting brushed can be an excellent reward for your dog. But there’s one additional reward your dog recognizes from a distance. Think about when a dog has a delighted excitement. The sounds that come out of them at that time. The high-pitched reward. Simply by changing the tone in your voice, you will notice how your dog loves it when you give them a high-pitched happy, well-done praise. Dog’s understand tones long before they understand the words. So incorporating stern when needed and high-pitched enthusiasm will become an excellent technique for the journey you’re about to take together.
3) Incorporate Training into Daily Routines
Training your dog takes commitment, and one of the easiest ways to blend your dog’s training is by teaching the desired actions throughout the day. Many people train their dog to ring a bell that hangs on the door to go outside. This learning technique to mimic an action is the same one people use to teach their dog to ask for food or water. Before you let the dog out or fill the bowl, you have to make noise with the bell or the bowl. Ring the bell and say “potty” every time you go out. Push the bowl or water dish around, rattling it against the other container, cabinet, or refrigerator, and use the words “food or water” before you fill it. Taking your daily walks is an excellent opportunity for door and leash training.
Let’s face it we all keep the leash near the door for convenience, but we don’t want our dogs racing through it every time it opens. Teaching your dog to “sit” before you put the leash on them can offer an opportunity to open the door, also introducing the words “stay or wait.” It takes just a couple of extra minutes picking one word you will use consistently. Open the door, go out and come back in before you clip that leash on. Another easy training activity to incorporate into your daily routine is recall, better known as name recognition and “come.” Simply hide a few treats through your home, and when you’re watching tv, making dinner, or doing laundry, call the dog’s name and say “come.” Incorporating these actions into your daily routine will become a habit for you and your dog. Soon it won’t feel like training at all.
4) Praise, Prizes, and Privileges
While dog training takes a good amount of self-discipline, your dog will not learn the positive actions you desire through harsh discipline. In fact, it could have the opposite effect. Reward the small accomplishments. Praise the recognition accomplishments. And give privileged rewards for the significant achievements. While treats are great motivators, especially for learning things like “drop it.” Holding the treat by their nose, saying the words “drop it,” then exchanging a toy the instant they let go teaches them good things will happen when they let what you want from them go.
However, you also need to reward your dogs in other forms, and one of a dog’s favorite prizes is playing a game. The best thing about games with your dog is it’s an opportunity for training while being rewarded. A good game of “fetch” teaches your dog you trust them to go after whatever you are throwing for them. It also reinforces “drop it” along with “come” when they are called. Playing a game of tug of war also supports “drop it,” but it also teaches your dog to look up to you as the leader, and if they’re getting too rambunctious, you can settle them down.
Dogs also love a good game of hide and seek. There are two types of this game your dog can learn from. The first is looking for you, which uses the “come” action without saying it. And the calmer version of hiding a toy or treat teaches your dog they can play without being wild. Socializing time at the dog park is essential for your dog, and the minute you let them off the leash teaches them you trust them to “come” when you call. This is also a fun place to incorporate new tricks and training like “up.” Most parks have something for the dog to jump up on and learning to do this on command can make getting into the car a smooth command and action.
5) Consistency, Keywords, and Patience
When training, it is very important to remember this does not happen overnight. The truth is it takes one entire month of doing the same thing repeatedly for a command and an action to become a habit. The ones you only use once in a while still need to be practiced even after learning. Remember, you shape your dog’s behavior by not becoming alpha but creating a bond where they respect you. Communicate with everyone involved in your dog’s life. If you’re using a trainer, make sure they know the keywords and use them. When it comes to training, start with all the simple keywords you want your dog to be familiar with. Such as out, come, sit, stay, food, wait, fetch, lie down, and back up.
Never tease and confuse your dog by asking them if they are hungry before saying the word food. This inconsistency is confusing and will make training more complex and longer. Training can be challenging, especially if you are potty training. There will be accidents and times it takes a minute for the words to register. With patience and care, you will shape your relationship and your dog’s responses even in a slightly stern tone.
Training your dog can be fun and should be approached calmly, positively. Once your dog has mastered the basics, you can move into the fun “tricks” your dog will enjoy with you. Customizing a plan that fits you and your dog can make parts of training seem effortless. Consistently saying and doing the same things opens a clear line of communication for you and your dog. Positive reinforcement such as treats, body rubs, and high-pitched happy sounds in your voice encourages your dog to repeat the action you desire. When you face common problems like jumping and barking, the training you’re doing gives you the tools – “sit, stay, quiet” to be in control of the situation.
Training with trust in mind, like playing a game of fetch or incorporating directive words like “left and right” while walking, encourages your dog’s sense of pride in doing the actions you desire. A truth about training most don’t realize is training never truly comes to an end. Repeating things you only use once in a while keeps your dog’s skills sharp, and consistently using the exact directions is key at every level of training. Positivity and rewards are the magic wand to successful training!