General Training Tips
- Always keep training sessions short – puppies need only 5 minutes at a time before they require a break. 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.
- Use some of your dogs daily meals to reward good choices or for training sessions rather than feeding it all out of a bowl at mealtimes.
- Know what motivates your dog – food, toys & praise.
- Every dog is an individual & will find different things reinforcing. Don't presume your dog will like what you choose, find out what your dog actually likes.
- Use a variety of rewards to keep training interesting and maintain motivation.
- Examples of low value rewards = normal food kibble, strokes or a toy he plays with all the time.
- Examples of high value (the jackpot!) = Chicken, cheese, liver, sausage, black pudding, favourite toy or game, big fuss & excited vocal praise.
- Education & training should be 24/7 not just at home or in classes. Dogs are learning even when we are not training them.
- When training a new behaviour or exercise begin in low distraction surroundings such as the home & garden.
- Begin to increase distraction levels when the behaviour is consistent in a low distraction environment & build up distractions gradually.
- 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 – interrupt & redirect the things you don’t like & manage your environment or training so that these things are less likely to be repeated.
- Training should always be fun for the dog & of course for you.
- Avoid training if you or your dog are tired or stressed.
- Never shout, use force or reprimand your dog - this will cause stress & damage your relationship.
- To avoid confusion only add verbal cues when a taught behaviour is consistent & 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 possibly frustrated.
- Don’t train when you are in a bad mood, as your dog will pick up on this & neither of you will enjoy the training.
- Be patient – dogs do not speak English – it is like asking for directions in a foreign country when you don’t speak the language. Training will take time.
- 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 you & your dog.
- Issue cues only once. If your dog does not respond – find out why and don’t just keep repeating the cue - He may not understand what you are asking of him in a exciting or distracting environment. You may need to re-assess & undertake further training in these envrionments before the behaviour is learned.