Helpful Dog Training Tips
Whether you are bringing home a dog from the shelter today, or you have been living with Fido for years, dog training can be fun, can be a great part of your daily routine, and is a fantastic way to bond with your dog. Training a dog is more than the basics of sit, down, and stay. The goal should be to create a way for your dog to be successful and thrive in your home, to keep him safe, and to keep him stimulated. The time spent training should be fun and rewarding for both you and your dog. Here are a few ways to keep training fun and successful on your way to raising a well behaved best friend.
Will Work For Food
- Your dog needs to eat everyday. One of the things we do at home is to portion off part of our dog's meals and use that for training rewards. As an example, if your dog eats 3 cups of food a day, take a third or half of that each day to use as training rewards, and make them earn it throughout the day. This is especially helpful with a new puppy or recently rescued dog that is learning all kinds of things constantly. I carry around part of my dog's daily allotment of food in a pouch on my belt (seen above, next to the bowl of kibble). If I ask the dog to sit, down, stay, house training a dog, or any number of other things, I use the food on my belt to reward the dog for good behaviors (like going potty in the yard). This also helps if you need to watch the weight of your dog. You have pre-measured the amount of "treats" your dog will get, and it is part of his daily allotment of food. This method is also great for tip #2
Reward What You Like
- Rewarding behaviors you like is really easy when you have treats clipped to your belt. And with rewards, timing is everything. Rewarding what you like is simple. If you sit down to watch TV and your dog lays at your feet, give him a treat. If a friend comes over and your pup waits patiently to say hi without jumping up, reward it! Did your dog stay quiet while the mailman approached the door? Treat him. When you let your dog outside and he goes potty, mark that behavior with a reward! Dogs are very smart and will begin to offer those behaviors more often. Timing is the key, which means you have to have access to the treats at the time of the behavior. If there is a bag of treats clipped to your belt, this is really easy to mark a good behavior with a treat and an enthusiastic "Good Boy!"In the beginning, food rewards work best, but over time can be used with less frequency and replaced with affection, a tug on his favorite toy, or a game of fetch.
Start In A Distraction Free Environment
|Zukes Training Treats and Happy Howie's food roll|
|Some dogs prefer toys over treats|
Use High Value Treats
Keep It Fun, Short, And Consistent
- The key to training is to keep it fun for your dog. The best sessions are short and often throughout the day, vs an hour long daily session after dinner. Working training sessions into everyday life can be a great way to keep it fresh and fun. Work on something in the kitchen for a couple of minutes while you are waiting for water to boil. Have them practice down stay while you brush your teeth. When going for your evening walk, work on heel, and stop every so often to do a sit/down/walk around your dog. Every time you are with your pet is a great time to ask for a behavior or work on something new. The dog will look forward to being with you, and it is a great time to bond with your pet. Every scenario that comes up is a training opportunity. If you are using food as a reward, try to do short training sessions before feeding time. You will find that to be more successful because the dog is hungry, instead of training right after dinner when the dog is full and may not be as willing to work. Work mini sessions often throughout the day, every day and before you know it, Fido will be amazing!
Always End On A Success
- If you are in a training session and you are having trouble teaching your dog something, don't just end it and walk away. Make sure to go back to a behavior the dog understands and work that prior to ending. For example, if you are working on "sit pretty" and are struggling, but the dog knows how to sit, prior to ending the session have the dog sit a couple of times and reward him. Keep the training sessions positive and upbeat, and the dog will enjoy coming back to try again later.