1. Keep it Simple.
Dogs can learn complex behaviors if taught in steps. Keeping it simple and breaking individual behaviors into steps will help your dog learn faster. An example would be if you wanted your dog to go to its bed when a guest arrives. Firstly, you would need to teach him what his bed is. From there you need to teach him how to stay on the bed. These first two things are what I would focus on in the beginning. Once the dog knows how to stay on the bed, you can introduce people entering the home. By breaking it into steps like this, you will see results quicker than if you try to only train this behavior when a guest arrives.
2. Keep it Positive.
By staying positive and teaching your dog in an encouraging way, you will see quicker results that last longer. What I mean by this is don’t yell at your dog if it makes a mistake. Instead, think about what you would like your dog to do and show him how to do it. No I don’t mean act like a dog, I mean Keep it Simple. Using positive reinforcement is a fantastic tool to use for building new behaviors. In order to use it, you just need to find something your dog really enjoys, and give it to him after he does something you like. (It is a tiny bit more complex than that but it’s the overall idea.)
3. Lots of Repetition.
Repetition in training is one of the most important things. When teaching your dog something new, you have to practice. Every dog is different so there isn’t really an overall answer as to how much repetition is needed. The best way to do it is to Keep it Simple and Keep it Positive. By keeping it simple and positive you should need less repetitions to get to the desired point. Typically my answer when someone asks me why their dog isn’t doing very well at something is because they haven’t done enough repetitions of it.
4. Stay Consistent.
Consistency is another very important key when training a dog. Consistency means making rules and following through with them. The most well behaved dogs come from consistent owners. Often times when an owner isn’t consistent, the dog ends up getting away with anything that it wants. This can be bad because when a dog gets away with what it wants, its behaviors are most likely getting reinforced. Since these behaviors are getting reinforced they get worse and worse until the human doesn’t know what to do. Remember to teach your dog what you want it to do, and then consistently reward that behavior. This will work out way better than waiting for the dog to do the wrong behavior and trying to consistently punish it.
One of the most important things to do when trying to have a well-behaved dog is making sure that its mental and physical needs are met. Just about every dog needs exercise. Physical exercise is great because it helps keep your dog in shape. It also lowers the amount of juice in the dog’s “battery.” Some sort of physical exercise should be done daily. Mental exercise is a better way to tire a dog out. Working a dog’s brain for ten minutes is equivalent to roughly 30 minutes of physical exercise. I recommend doing 2-3 ten-minute training sessions daily. These sessions can include regular obedience, or even teaching tricks. The idea is to make the dog think. When doing this, remember to Keep it Simple, Keep it Positive, do Lots of Repetition, and to Stay Consistent.
Kevin is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT.org) and is a Canine Good Citizen Evaluator through the American Kennel Club. He currently resides in Ohio with his dog, V, a six-year-old Shepherd/Lab mix, where he operates All Dogs Go To Kevin, LLC, specializing in helping build positive relationships between humans and their canine companions using clear communication, not pain and fear. For more training tips and tricks, and to meet his amazing dog, V, follow him on Facebook by clicking here.
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