Monday, October 10, 2011
Top 10 Dog Training Tips
by Kaili Williams of DogsGoWalking
1. Be Patient.
Some dogs learn quicker than others. Training is a long process, and you should give your dog the time he or she needs in order to understand. Patience is important. If your pet is not enthused about training, try again later.
2. You’re the Alpha.
It’s important to maintain a sense of hierarchy in order for your dog to respect and listen to you. This does not mean that you have to be harsh, but you have to be sure your pup knows who is boss. This understanding helps your dog to feel secure about his or her place in the home.
3. Build Routine.
Along with the above tip, build up a routine. Dogs love to have a routine and schedule, as it helps them feel secure. Plan training time, and try to stick with it. If you are training with treats, try and schedule a time between feeding so that the dog is motivated but will not have a spoiled appetite. However, keep tip #1 in mind. If your dog is not in the mood to train, do not force it.
4. Choose a reward system that works. While most dogs will be motivated by food, there are many that will be equally happy with petting or verbal praise. Take time to see your dogs reactions to these various forms of reward, and determine which will be most effective and pleasant for your dog.
5. Use Primary and Secondary Reinforcement.
When training, it is good to use two forms of reward: primary and secondary. Primary reinforcement is the more powerful reward, such as giving a treat. Secondary reinforcement is an additional reward used in conjunction with the primary reward, such as verbal praise. Giving your dog a treat while saying “good dog!” would be an example of using both primary and secondary reinforcement.
6. Treats: the smellier the better.
Dogs that are motivated by food are even more highly motivated by food that is moist or with a strong smell. Meaty or cheesy treats are a good idea. The stronger smell, the more likely your pet will be excited about it. Additionally, the strong smell becomes associated with the training lesson, and the dog will associate positive behavior with a positive smell and taste.
7. Be Kind.
Focus on positive reinforcement, rather than negative reinforcement. Positive reinforcement helps your dog feel better about the training they are learning, and therefore more motivated to learn more. Negative reinforcement has it’s place, but positive reinforcement is far more powerful and effective.
8. Good Timing.
Timing is key. Try and give your pet a reward immediately after they perform the desired behavior. This immediate association of a reward with an action helps them to learn quicker.
Once your pet has learned a new trick or behavior, continue to rehearse it. Keeping a consistent reward system helps create consistent good behavior.
10. Adapt Training Methods with your dog’s Learning.
Once your dog has learned a new behavior, keep in mind tip #9 - consistency. However, you may not want to continue to use a big reward like treats every time, especially once your dog knows the behavior well enough that it is a habit. This is where you can make the switch to your Secondary reinforcement, such as verbal praise or belly rubs. It’s polite to continue to reward your dog for good behavior, but the primary reward is unnecessary for long-term use.
Finally, it is important to let care-takers of your dog know about the behaviors known and in the process of learning. If you hire a dog walker or pet sitter, let them know your dog's known commands and routines, so that they can continue to enforce the desired behavior.