State of mind – Start training in a positive and calm state of mind. Don’t start a training session if you are going to be in a rush or feeling rushed, or if you have other things on your mind that influence your emotions. Dogs are sensitive to our feelings and body language and they know how we feel better than sometimes. Your mood during training will influence your dog’s performance.
Enough time to train – Training sessions can often be too long or too short. It will take many sessions to get the desired behavior from your dog. Some breeds learn faster than others, so you need to know where your dog ranks in mental toughness. Forcing a bored dog to train will likely cause the dog to lose interest in training and become spoiled and disinterested. Remember this: 10 one-minute sessions are more effective than 1 ten-minute session.
Do not stop training once you achieve the goal – It is tempting to completely stop training after a dog masters a behavior and expect the dog to retain the skill whenever you want to show it off. However, you will not be very impressive if your dog does not have practice. You don’t need to continue with numerous formal training sessions on a daily basis, you can relax a bit. It is best to surprise your dog with the command on a random walk or during play from time to time to reinforce learning. It makes it fun for you and the dog, which also helps strengthen the bond between the two of you.
Don’t repeat commands in seconds – We are all guilty of this at some point. Being hospitalized and asking the dog to do something like “sit” too many times before the dog continues with the action. What happens when we use the word “sit” 7 times before the dog actually sits, is that we are training the dog to wait until the seventh command to “sit” 7 times before moving on. Yes, dogs are smart and manipulative if you let them. What you want is an immediate response to the word “sit down” after saying it just once.
Train in different places – You want to train your dog in a variety of different areas and situations, to be socialized and distracted. This is the best way to solidify your training and ensure reliable command following. The dog will enjoy the challenge and keep training interesting!
Use treats from time to time – Providing treats at unpredictable intervals, but not EVERY TIME, keeps the focus on learning the new behavior and not on focusing on the food. Remember that your dog wants to work for you and make you proud. So don’t underestimate positive reinforcement through praise and patting.
Have confidence – Dogs can feel insecure and scared because they see fear as an unpredictable threat. Do what you have to do to feel in control. Use positive self-talk before a training session, take your dog to a professional so they can learn together, train in different areas, attend different places. Go ahead and learn with your dog and have fun!
Meet your dog – The biggest determinants of a dog’s learning style will be the breed or mix of breeds and the personality. Is the breed a very nervous and energetic breed? Or a soft lap dog? Both require very different training approaches. A fearless and social dog will require a different approach than a shy or fearful dog. You will have to adapt your training style to suit your dog’s breed and personality. So get to know your dog, train, practice, have fun, and have fun outside and inside!