My Top Training Tips…FREE!
Build a strong FOundation
It may not sound flashy, and it might not even look like much from the outside, but attention/focus is the best thing you can teach your dog. It’s pretty rare for a dog to come with built-in, natural drive to stay close and pay attention. Some breeds/types do have this—Border Collies are an example. Now you know why so many dog trainers own Border Collies! Any dog can LEARN to focus and pay attention, and it pays to build this foundation early and to reinforce it often. Start simple: reward your dog for paying attention to you, whenever you catch them doing it. Reward this offered attention to build a strong drive to check in with you. Train this way, and you won’t have to ask your dog to “watch” or “look!”
Focused dogs! These boys know that paying attention pays well.
Get out More
Train your dog everywhere. Dogs need to practice in a lot of different environments, and I don’t just mean train in your yard as well as your kitchen. Plan short outings to a variety of places to build reliability. Expect your dog to be distracted! That’s okay. Let them look at things, smell things, meander about. Giving them this time to settle into new places will actually help your training—even if you can’t get his attention to save your life! Spend 5-10 minutes in the new place, see if you can get a few behaviors from your dog, and if not, no worries, just go home. The next time you go to that interesting place, try again. I would bet money that your dog spends less time sniffing and more time engaging with you. Keep it short and easy, and then go home. The more you practice your skills in interesting, distracting places, the easier your dog will find it to perform at home or at class.
Use your normal voice when giving a verbal cue. If your dog doesn't respond, they may not understand the cue or the environment is too much for them to handle. Avoid repeating cues or using your dog’s name repetitively—this is a good way to teach your dog to ignore your cues.
See Your Puppy Up For Success
My Top 5 Practical Puppy Tips, read them here!
Walk This Way
Click here to find seven ways to improve your dog’s walk.
We’re all Different
Every dog is an individual: something that worked for one dog may not work for another. This is why attending a class, hiring a private trainer, or asking a friend for advice can be so enlightening! When you’ve only trained one or two dogs, you will lean toward the methods that worked for those dogs when you get your next dog. Professional trainers have worked with hundreds, if not thousands, of dogs, which gives us the experience and training tools to work with a variety of dogs. This is why it might seem like we are are the most “patient” people in the world. The truth is, most trainers aren’t that patient, it’s just that we’re not worried about the training process because we know something we try will work eventually!
Communicate with clarity by using a marker signal. A marker can be a clicker, a sound you make with your voice, a word, a gesture, or even a flash of light (good for hearing impaired pups). This signal, when consistently paired with something pleasant, like food or a toys, tells your dog why you’re rewarding them. Mark what you like and then reward.
Take A Break
When you're working on a complex training project, such as cooperative care, leash reactivity, or off-leash reliability, you may encounter roadblocks. Take a break to make some progress!
…It’s raining, my puppy/dog won’t potty outside!
This is really common, especially with puppies and small dogs. I rarely hear this from owners of Labradors, Goldens, and other water-loving, big, hairy breeds. Usually, this is just a “substrate preference”…a technical term for not wanting to get your feet wet. Often, we accidentally create this problem because WE don’t really want to go out in the rain, do we? Read more…
Check out my blog on Cooperative Care for Toenail Trimming.