Now that you have chosen the perfect trainer and enrolled in an obedience class, where do you go from there? We tend to get stuck in ruts as we go through this journey; we forget to do the homework, we set too high of expectations, or we simply get frustrated. Here are a few tips to staying motivated and setting realistic expectations throughout your dog’s training session.
Making Training Fun and Positive
When you train with your dog, remember to create a fun atmosphere. If you are enjoying the training so will your dog. When you begin to get frustrated or angry because they just aren’t “getting it,” it is time to take a step back. Training should always start positive and end positively. Try teaching your pet a new trick or command each week to increase a fun and motivational learning environment.
Stop Lying to Your Dog
We wouldn’t lie to our children if their homework were wrong, so why do we tend to lie to our dogs? They don’t sit for us, but we give them the treat; they don’t come to us, but we still praise them when we go to them. They pull us down the ramp, but we pet them and say “oh it’s ok.” We are all guilty of this at some point in our dog’s life. The difficult part of this lesson is that we are now rewarding our dogs for behavior that we do not wish them to learn. Don’t lie to them. If they don’t sit, they did not earn the treat. Help them to be correct so that we can reward them for good behavior.
Set Them up to Succeed
As a dog owner, we begin to set expectations for our dogs. Sometimes these expectations get lost when comparing to our friend’s dog or our neighbor’s dog. At the end of the day, we must remember to set our dog up for success. Create goals and expectations that we know, as a team; we can achieve. Once achieved, set new expectations.
Create and Grow a Bond
Although treats are rewarding for any pet, they have a 2-second engagement with your dog. Begin engaging with your dog more through play, physical exercise, and training in general. When you begin engaging with your dog, they will want to work for you and not for the treat. Achieving this creates a perception that you are more exciting and interesting than the world around them.
Make it Short and Sweet
In the beginning, your training session should be no longer than 15 minutes at a time. This does not mean that is 15 minutes a day, but 15 minutes in one training session. The best way to begin creating good behavior is to enforce taught behaviors into their day to day routines. For example, ask them to sit before you feed them each meal. Create good manners with strangers and ask people to tell your dog to sit before being pet; doing so will divert any temptation to jump.