Training is an integral part of welcoming a dog into your family and help them adjust to a long and happy life with you. Regular training sessions and refreshers have many benefits, and are key to help them master important requests from you and others, develop confidence, positive personality traits, and keep them engaged and stimulated. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of our top five tips for setting your training sessions up for success.
1. Less can be more
Believe it or not, the phrase ‘less is more’ applies to dog training, too. Your pooch is more likely to learn more from shorter and more frequent sessions spread out over a longer period of time. For example, dogs that train for 10 minutes seven days a week are more likely to be successful than those that train for an hour every other week. In fact, some experts recommend sessions of no longer than 15 minutes, and puppies may benefit from even shorter sessions.
2. Provide the right conditions
It's also important the conditions surrounding your training session are right. For starters, choose a time and place that allows you to fully focus on the task and your dog won’t be easily distracted by external factors, such as hunger, tiredness, loud noises or crowds.
Secondly, set a training agenda. It is better to focus on just one or two skills per session to help them stayed focused, as jumping back and forth between different commands may confuse or frustrate them.
3. Practise positive reinforcement
Most importantly, training should only involve positive reinforcement. Punishment or yelling is likely to create a negative association with the situation. It can create anxiety or fear around the very skills you are trying to teach. If you find your dog is having an off day with a particular skill or request, it’s better to move on to something they have mastered, praise them for doing it correctly and end the session on a good note.
4. Support training with a daily routine
Sticking to a daily routine can also have a great impact on training your dog. While not formal training (meaning you are not teaching them to respond to specific cues or requests such as ‘sit’ or ‘stay’), a consistent household routine helps dogs mature into family members who understand what’s expected of them and what’s likely to happen when.
5. Consider training classes
While providing short bursts on a daily basis, or several times a week, at home is the gold standard for effective training, classes can also be helpful:
- For novice trainers
- If you want to gain more confidence in training skills
- If you’re finding training an uphill battle
- Or if you simply want to learn something new and more challenging
In addition to providing a safe place to socialise your dog, training classes give you an opportunity to ask questions. It also gives your dog a chance to consolidate his or her skills in a slightly more stimulating environment.
Training is an important part of forging a positive relationship between you and your dog. Done right – frequently with plenty of positive reinforcement along the way – your four-legged friend will quickly become a well-mannered member of your family.