Dog Training Tips

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The ten training tips that are presented in this article are a composite of my own 20 years of dog training experience, many conversations I have had with other professional trainers across the country
such as a dog Trainer in Baltimore and other articles written by colleagues of mine.

1. It is easier shape good habits than to change bad ones.
Show your dog what you want him to do by providing proper boundaries and structure. We should not give a dog total freedom until we they have earned the trust. Leaving a puppy or new dog alone in the yard or in house is only inviting trouble. Prevent bad things from happening and you will be shaping good behavior.

2. Train in small steps.
Break down training into small steps. Going slow will get you there faster.

3.Every dog learns at it’s own pace.
Some dogs learn some tasks or commands faster than others. All dogs are capable of learning basic obedience commands regardless of how intelligent they are. Even the most intelligent of dogs can have problems learning new things based on their ability to focus and control their excitability. We need to gear our lessons to the dog’s ability and temperament.

4. Train Anywhere, Anytime and All the Time.
In order to have a dog that will behave when we want and where we take them we need to train them in multiple settings and be aware that we are always in training mode. Reinforce good habits and eliminate bad behaviors 24/7.

5. Be Positive in your approach and use what motivates your dog to teach whenever possible.
Use a combination of rewards such as touch, praise, treats, and toys to reward your dog but as your dog becomes more proficient only reward genuine effort and achievement. Don’t praise and reward behavior that your dog does routinely. Save the big rewards for special achievements or when she learns something new.

6. Be patient, take your time, and keep calm.
Training can sometimes be frustrating but getting angry can create bad behaviors in our dog. If you can’t stay positive then hang up the leash for awhile and come back when you have a more positive attitude. To be a successful trainer you need to be confident and clear and you can’t do this if you are frustrated and angry with your dog.

7. Don’t be tempted to “test” your dog in situations he has not yet fully learned.
Make sure that your dog understands and knows a command before putting him in a situation where he will disobey your command otherwise you will be teaching him to not obey you. A good example is taking a leash off too soon and testing your dog’s recall before he is ready. All you are teaching is that he does not have to always come when called.

8.Training is exercise.
Training exercises the dog’s brain which is equivalent to physical exercise. Training while walking or running will calm and settle your dog. Include some training in your dog’s daily exercise routine.

9. Short successful sessions are more effective than long tiring ones.
If you train too much you can reach a point of diminishing returns. If your dog gets bored with a routine she will start to shut down and stop learning. Know when too much is too much. Always quit your training session on a high note and vary your sessions in terms of time and routine. Keep training sessions up beat and fun and you will get much more from your dog.

10. Go back to basics when things go wrong.
Sometimes dogs have bad days or they will exert their personalities and take liberties with you. Sometimes they just refuse to do what we want them to do. Dogs are not robots and do not perform 100% all the time. When this happens stay positive and assertive and go back to the basics before moving on to something new or more complicated.

Article based on “Training Tips” by Martin Deeley, CDT, Executive Director IACP.

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