Saturday, 27 July 2013

The Top 3 Secrets to training dogs - Sshhh, keep it to yourself!!

Although I am a Dog Sitter on the Northern Beaches I very much enjoy training and get asked to take on a new dogs to teach them obedience. However, as Perfect Pet Sitter my priority is the pets I’m living with. Which means I strictly limit dog training to one case at any time.

Sunny on the long lead at North Harbour Reserve - getting a reward!
A dog should not be allowed to give itself permission to do what it wants, when it wants. The one who gives permission must be you. Once you have reached this 'understanding', mature or pup, training a dog is like going on a diet – the only way to make a diet work is by sticking to the new regime. So to be successful training a dog you must always do two things constantly, be Consistent & Repetitious.

Secret 1)
be Consistent, one day asking a dog to heel but the next let them sniff and pull you all over the place – what message does that send your dog? That they make the choices and are in control, so why should they listen to you? When teaching a dog to heel the first thing I do is stop them sniffing - control the nose, control the dog.

Secret 2)
be Repetitious, continually repeating training is the only chance of anything sticking. Once a week is not enough. Early stage Obedience training (aka ‘good manners’) needs 2-3 sessions a week of at least half hour to an hour. 15-20 mins daily is great if you can do it yourself.

Secret 3) 
TREATS!  Treats are your No 1 aide as the more your dog associates training with pleasure the more successful the training will be. It's key to also make yourself fun. Your dog has to think of you as more interesting and more fun than the other dogs/smells that are everywhere to distract them! So whilst you must repeat learning, find ways to vary sessions – change routes, break up training. Example, my first lesson will be almost all heel training. Later sessions I start with heel work and walk them to a place where they can be off lead (actually they're still attached by a 20' long lead). The dog can run and feels free, and I use my treats to teach the recall. When that learning ends for the session, we do heel work on the way back to the house. 
To re-inforce the correct/good, TREATS;  to get your dog's attention TREATS; to get your dog to come to you TREATS.  I ensure I find an opportunity to give dogs a treat before we have even left the house and started the session. In this way they know I have treats and will 'work' for them. As well as Treats give lots of verbal PRAISE when they get things right. 

I’ve used this phrase in an earlier Blog, but never is it more important than when training:
What I want I re-inforce – what I don’t want I ignore

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