Patch Puppy’s Tips for Successful Training
You’re going to love this post — it’s full of tips for successful training!
Now, it’s not really about the commands.
Although, I’m sure I’ll find great information for you there, too.
But this post is about training methods.
How’s that different?
Well, everyone will tell you that you need to teach your dog to sit.
They may even tell you how to teach the command.
But they rarely talk about the methods.
What methods should you use for teaching a dog?
When is the best time to teach a dog?
Is it better to teach a dog in a group or alone?
How do you tell?
What do you do if you’re having trouble?
Those are the questions I’m looking to answer for you.
First, let’s assume you’re 100% committed to your dog.
Getting a dog wasn’t some whim where you thought they’d lay dutifully on your lap whenever you wanted a photo op.
Bringing a pet home is like bringing home a new baby.
Granted, the pup will be more self-sufficient faster, but still — they’re our furry children and friends.
Without this level of commitment, training cannot work.
And like children, they need clear rules that do not waver.
So, the next rule is to be consistent.
Being consistent in dog training
Dogs don’t understand “sometimes.”
They only understand routines.
So, you can’t say “sit” and then let them off the hook – ever.
If you do let your dog get away with ignoring a command, or doing it “half” and getting the reward, your dog will not learn clearly.
They’ll have to guess if “sit” means “put my bottom firmly on the floor” or “laying down is the same thing” or even “if squat, it’s the same thing and I can jump for the treat faster!”
This sort of good enough training just confuses your dog.
And a confused dog not only makes mistakes, but it causes them stress.
A pup wants to please you and if they’re not certain what you mean, they get anxious while trying to figure it out.
They need to understand that when you use the word “sit,” their bottom must hit the floor and stay there until you say otherwise.
Before you begin a session, make sure you can follow through.
Being committed to a dog training session
Just like your commitment to your dog, you must be committed to the training session for it to be successful.
Your dog needs your complete focus during a session so that your signals are clear.
So, if you’ve had a rough day and are exhausted, it’s probably not a good night to train.
This is especially true if you’re using hand signals or props with your training (bells, toys, etc.).
A tired person won’t move the prop or form the hand signal the same as you’d do when you’re at your best.
I know that when I bell-trained both dogs, some days were just terrible.
I was too tired and too unfocused to be clear.
Lorelei and Boo were both confused in their sessions on those days.
And Boo is such a pleaser that he gets very upset when he doesn’t understand what you want.
You also want your dog to feel committed to the session.
If your pup has had an exciting day, they may not be in the right mood for training.
If you had unexpected guests and are off routine…
Fido is probably NOT going to able to focus.
Your dog can be unfocused from shots, too.
So, if it was a vaccination day, skip training.
Why you shouldn’t train your dog on a sick day
While we’re talking vet… be sure your dog is in great condition before trying to train.
If she’s in pain, she won’t be able to focus on you.
A sore paw doesn’t make a dog feel like jumping when you tell them, too.
And a dog who is ill won’t feel up to the challenge.
I mean, who wants to focus when they’re sick???
If your dog isn’t up to it, you’re better off skipping training and just cuddling with them.
Another BIG key to training is PATIENCE!!
Having patience in dog training
I can’t stress this one enough.
There are no shortcuts here, and your dog will not always cooperate.
If they’re just not getting it, don’t get frustrated.
Your dog knows when you’re frustrated with them, and it confuses them because they’re trying so hard to please you.
It’s better to end a session early rather than get so frustrated that you confuse your dog.
You’re basically teaching your dog a language.
You’re translating human words and motions into something your dog associates with a responding action.
Like some people take easily to new languages,
Some dogs also learn new commands easily.
But it works in reverse, too.
Some people have a tough time learning new languages.
They must work harder.
It’s the same with some dogs who struggle to learn commands.
But whether they learn the language fast, or they learn it a bit more slowly, you’ll feel GREAT every time they get it right.
And your dog will feel even closer to you.
You should also keep your training sessions short — especially in the beginning.
Why you should keep dog training sessions short
A healthy young dog can focus on you fully for about 15 minutes.
After that, they’re going to be worn out in the focus area.
Training is hard work at any stage.
Everyone makes it sound soooo fun…
And it is.
But it’s also hard work for both you and for your dog … some days, more than others.
By limiting your sessions to 15 minutes, you can keep it light, fun, and effective, without running out of patience or focus.
Now, for agility and toy training, you can use longer sessions.
If your dog has the basic commands down and you’re starting to get into tricks and courses, they’re happy to have longer sessions most of the time.
Most of the time, this feels more like play for your dog.
Catching a frisbee and doing body tricks may still be hard work (and it is), but it’s also FUN!
These you can do until your dog tires of them.
You’ll know to stop when your dog lets you know they’re finished.
In the frisbee example, most dogs will just stop bringing it back so you can’t throw it again.
That’s a clear sign that they’re too tired to play and would love a rest.
The same goes for most of the tricks and course training.
Some days they’ll seem ready to play for hours, others they’ll only manage a short session.
Either way, you’ll have a great time.
And you’ll notice some serious benefits to the training.
What are some benefits of training your dog?
First, the basic commands can save your dog’s life in the case of a car coming or a fight with another dog.
You’ll have a better response from visitors when you’re well-trained pup comes to you instead of jumping on the guest.
And both you and your dog will have feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment after a great session or a new trick mastered.
Plus, training usually wears them out a bit…
Which is especially great with younger, energetic dogs who like to keep you up at night.
Dogs who get enough attention and exercise don’t get bored and chew up the banister.
Or they don’t try to break out of their crates (a friend’s dog managed to “eat” his way out of a metal crate).
I often say that a tired dog is a well-behaved dog — because it’s true!