General Training Tips
- Always keep training sessions short – puppies need only 5 minutes at a time. Older dogs can do 10-15 minute sessions but will also benefit from lots of short 5 minute ones (use those advert breaks!) It is better to do more short sessions than one long one.
- When using food rewards, train just before mealtime so your dog is actually hungry.
- Know what motivates your dog – food/toys/praise.
- The amount and quality affects behaviour – the dog will work harder for better/tastier rewards.
- Use a variety of rewards to keep training interesting and maintain motivation.
- Low value rewards = normal food nuggets/pat on the head or toy he plays with all the time.
- Medium value = cheese, hot dogs, packet treats/ fuss & vocal praise/ squeaky toy.
- High value (the jackpot!) = Chicken, liver sausage, black pudding/ favourite toy or game/ big fuss & excited vocal praise.
- Train in as many different places as you can, not just at home or in classes.
- When training a new behaviour or exercise begin in low distraction surroundings.
- Increase distraction levels when the behaviour is established.
- Increase to maximum distraction and ensure behaviour is 100% at this level = reliability of performance in any circumstance.
- If the session is not going well try to understand why (have you asked for too much too soon) – go back to an easier level of the exercise or rethink what you are trying to train.
- Always set up your sessions for success.
- Reward the things you like – ignore or redirect the things you don’t like.
- Training should always be fun.
- Avoid training if you or your dog are tired or stressed.
- Never punish your dog – punishment = stress and a stressed dog will not learn effectively.
- To avoid confusion only add verbal cues when a taught behaviour is reliable and use exactly the same word each time.
- Always be consistent, if you keep moving the goal posts the dog will become confused and this leads to under performance – or no response to cues at all!
- Don’t train when you are in a bad mood, as the dog will pick up on this.
- Be persistent and be patient – dogs do not speak English – it is like asking for directions in a foreign country when you don’t speak the language.
- Use calm, clear tones when communicating cues – there is no need to shout – dogs have better hearing than us and shouting causes stress to both handler and dog.
- Issue the cue only once. If the dog does not respond – find out why and don’t just keep repeating the cue - He may just learn to respond on the 3/4/5th cue.