It can be a bit challenging right? Especially if you don’t have much experience or don’t have the right help. If this is your case, this article will interest you.
Here I leave you 10 tips that will surely help you improve and make training with your dogs easier.
- Be consistent with the rules.
This is dog’s first, but there are many people who do not understand the importance of being consistent with the dog in its day-to-day training. And more importantly when we talk about his obedience training.
The rules or limits you have at home (which everyone will have their own) have to be very clear and followed by everyone Best dog training Houston. If everyone is consistent and does the same thing it won’t take long for the dog to get things straight.
For example: do not give human food to the dog. If you want people not to be given food so that they don’t ask for it later or not be attentive while the family eats, make sure that everyone understands it and complies with it.
If someone at home breaks this and gives food to the dog, it makes no sense for you to scold them later for asking for food at the table. It’s not fair to punish your dog for something that someone else in the house has reinforced.
And the same could apply to not getting on the couch or bed. If there is a person who allows it, it is not fair that another person scolds him for it later. It is also not fair that if one day you allow him to climb into bed because at that specific moment you feel like scolding him later when you find him on it.
Being reinforced one day and punished the next for doing the same thing is the opposite of being consistent. That sends mixed signals to the dog, confusing and frustrating him.
The rules you decide to have at home should be clear to both you and other people. Failure to do this will make it more difficult for the dog to understand things.
- Encourage your dog’s good behavior.
One of the best ways to get good training in your dog is to encourage and recognize good behaviors. It really is something very simple but one that we often forget.
Don’t only think about the negative, about what “your dog does wrong.” A good education is not based on pointing out only bad behaviors, but on recognizing good ones. If you only scold the dog for what he does wrong but do not tell him what is right, he will not know what to do.
Keep in mind that our dogs are constantly learning, not just when you want them to. Therefore, let him know when he is doing something good, something you like, and this will encourage the dog to repeat it. Don’t assume that the dog understands things through your silence, you must let him know. This is one of the bases of positive dog training.
Do it even if what you have done seems silly to you, don’t reserve it for great achievements. All those small positive interactions will help him understand what things are good and therefore he can do (that is, what you expect him to do on each occasion).
If your dog lies calmly near you while you watch TV and you like it, let him know with a “good boy . ” So with everything you do. If you let him know he will try to repeat it instead of doing other more inappropriate things.
- Know your dog’s limits.
All dogs have limits. Your puppy is not going to have the attention span that an adult dog has. Your senior dog is not going to have the same physical capacity as a year and a half youngster. And perhaps your dog has a fear problem that does not allow him to approach other dogs or people like anyone else would.
Therefore, you must adapt education and training to the limits that your dog has and look for the formula that works best. If your dog is very young you will have to train for very short periods, as long as he is able to maintain attention. On the other hand, if your dog is senior you will have to rule out some skills that are more physically demanding. And if your dog is afraid, you should find the appropriate distance so that he can be calm.
This way your dog will see the training sessions as something positive and fun. And he will see you as that person who guarantees him a good time of stimulation and free of danger. As the reference of his affection and security.
If you exceed the dog’s limits you will make him see you as the complete opposite.
Therefore, you must pay attention to your dog when you are with him and understand everything he communicates to you with his body language. This way, he himself will tell you what things he likes to do the most and what things bother him or make him uncomfortable, so you can improve your relationship over time.
- Control the environment.
When we talk about training sessions, it is essential to control the environment. The best place to start training is your living room. Outside there will always be many more distractions that you will have to fight to get your dog’s attention.
Think that when you train outside you are not asking your dog to simply perform a trick, but rather to stop ignoring all those smells, sounds, presences and stimuli that surround him to do what you ask.
Therefore, whenever you want to teach your dog something new, look for a distraction-free environment. Inside the house it is a perfect place. And once the skill is understood you can train it in another place that has more distraction. Also, keep in mind that when you do this the dog is not going to perform the exercise in the same way, he will need a little more training to be able to achieve adequate generalization ( in my clicker training course I talk to you about all these concepts, such as generalization, discrimination, etc. ).
The environment becomes especially important when we talk about a specific exercise: the call. In fact, you just have to see it: inside the house the call can be perfect but when the dog is outside it is a disaster. The reason is that in the outside world there are a thousand more exciting things to do before answering the call: smells, people, dogs to chase, etc. Therefore it is very important to train the call in environments from easier to more difficult progressively.
All of this takes a while, of course. Do not expect the dog to respond to your call at the first opportunity outside if there is no prior training in simpler environments. If he doesn’t have a reliable call in a controlled environment, forget about him doing well in an uncontrolled or distraction-filled one. So you have to have a little patience, each change of environment is a new level of difficulty in the exercise.
It is very important that you know how to keep the dog’s motivation high and that he enjoys training with you. For this you will have to find out what type of rewards they like the most: food? toys? what type?
Many dogs like several things, but which one do they like the most? Knowing this you will know which reinforcement to use at what time. Food usually works well for phases of learning new behaviors because almost everyone likes it and it doesn’t get them too crazy, allowing them to maintain an optimal level of attention. Toys are usually better for already learned behaviors that you want to improve or execute in other more complicated situations, since they excite the dog more.
Use different levels of rewards for different levels of demand. Use “good” treats for more difficult exercises or when the dog does especially well.
Within the food or toys themselves you can also vary what you offer. A food ball, a sausage or a taco of cheese does not have the same value for the dog, and you only have to look into his eyes while you give him each thing to know it. The same with toys: there are dogs that like to chase more so they prefer balls or discs, while there are others that prefer to fight for a good chew.
- Remember that the dog also gets tired.
When training it is always better to fall short than to go overboard. Dogs do not have an unlimited attention span and if you train for too long, tiredness and lack of motivation may appear in the dog, and frustration may appear in you when you do not achieve results.
Depending on the routine you have with your dog, you should limit the training time. It is better to spend 10 minutes at 100% and stop than to try to stay longer and screw it up. Additionally, it is necessary that you work on the exercises or tricks you want in the appropriate order and always leaving a short rest between them.
- Watch your language.
And no, I don’t mean not swearing.
People tend to talk a lot but, when training, we have to take great care of this aspect to be very clear and use a consistent communication code (yes, that word again).
Starting with the simple: if your word for the dog to sit is “ sit ”, always say “ sit ”. Don’t sit , sit down , or other things. And the same applies to the rest of the people who interact with the dog.
Focus on words that have value for that moment. There is no need to constantly repeat the dog’s name or tell him how cute he is or how well he does it. It’s great that you think about it, but if your mouth only says ” sit ” and ” very good ” it will be much easier for the dog to understand than if you say “let’s-see-Bobby-sit-sit.” -very-good-guy-but-how-well-he-does-it . ”
- Days of rest.
Not every day things are going to work out. Like everything we do routinely, some days are going to be better than others. And there will be days when, for whatever reason, things don’t work: the dog isn’t connected, or you’ve had a bad day and don’t have the same patience, or whatever.
If that happens: don’t force it . There is no need to necessarily train. Take a break and do something else, like just going for a walk or lying on the couch and scratching your belly.
If you force the situation and things go wrong you can cause your dog to create negative associations towards the exercise or towards you. Believe me, it’s not worth it.
- Learn from mistakes.
There are times when you get stuck and don’t know where to go to get your dog to do a skill. If that happens to you, it’s important to take a step back and understand why things aren’t working.
This is why it is important to have a good work methodology. If you are clear about the steps and advance based on a clear way of working, when something does not work out it is very easy to detect what it is and go back to the corresponding step to correct it, and move forward again. This is how I teach it to my students in my clicker training courses .
Every time something like this happens to you you should be able to learn something that will help you next time. Because these things happen, each dog is different, with different sensitivities and you must also learn how to adapt to them as best as possible.
- Every dog is unique.
If you have trained more than one dog, this is something that you are very clear about. What works for one may not work for another.
That is why it is very important to understand the why of the exercises, and not just how they are done. If you only know how to do things one way and that way doesn’t work: you’re out of options. But if you understand why they are done, you can use some other technique (or make something up as you go) to help you reach your goal and move forward.
It is something that seems very simple to understand, but then we all make the same mistake: we go to Facebook and write “ my dog pulls on the leash, what do I do?” . It is impossible (and irresponsible ) to respond to that without knowing even the slightest bit about the case and the dog.
Many will say: “do this, it worked for me . ” And it may be a good exercise, but that does not mean that it will work the same with your dog.
It’s like the typical cliché of the mechanic who charges €100 to tighten a screw: he doesn’t charge for tightening it, but for knowing which one needs to be tightened. This is the same: it is not knowing how to do an exercise, but knowing how to get the dog to stop pulling on the leash, in any way.