I know what your going to say. Another “train your dog fast”, quick fix, post or advertisement on dog training. Well, not exactly.
Having a well behaved dog is something that many people find elusive.
Often you will hear someone say “my dog has finally matured” or “this breed doesn’t become an adult until the age of four”. Having been involved with dog training AND training people to train dogs for 17 years, I have heard many excuses as to why a dog does not “behave” and these are two.
Sometimes it takes a long time to have certain dogs understand what you want them to do. The excuse for this might be the breed, or the dog’s intelligence, or his interest in training. This is actually a misunderstanding of what is actually occurring. There is one thing that could be the magic button to having your dog trained in half the time or even faster of what might normally happen.
It is actually a very simple idea and works all of the time.
To get your dog trained faster, train your dog and train regularly.
In other words, if you don’t do the work, your dog will get trained by default. Default training happens when you don’t do anything (or very little) really specific to modify a behaviour you don’t like or want to change/teach in a dog into one that you prefer.
You will then end up with a dog who responds to whatever you payed attention to him doing in the first place. This could be anything at all. It is different for each person and is dependent on how each person lives her/his life and what goes on in it.
Dogs do what works. That is why they “listen” to some people but not others. With someone who has not done the training with them, a dog will not be conditioned to do so, and will not “listen”.
So, if you want to get your dog trained faster, do the work. Make sure to do the formal training regularly.
An 11 week old Kuvasz puppy learning to “go spot”.
To be able to do this, you have to make a commitment to your dog and to yourself.
Dogs need to be trained. For one thing, it helps them adjust to the wierd things that us humans put them through. They need to be able to stay calm many different situations. If you are not helping your dog adjust to scary or stressful situations then it could be considered a humane issue. It is not right to continually force a dog into a situation in which he is uncomfortable. Training can help your dog adjust and be calmer in strange situations.
But how do I find the time to train?
Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. There is a perception that training is tedious and unpleasant as well as time consuming for the average dog owner. It also requires humans to make a small change to accommodate the training, the dog and the change THAT makes in their lives. And humans generally hate change.
I have seen it time and time again with clients who did not finish coming to classes and then presented later on with a dog who cannot walk on leash or is not able to hold a sit for safety’s sake.
What likely happened is that a large enough benefit to training was not seen immediately and discouragement followed. There was a desire to get things “back to normal” to before the new puppy or dog came. The number one reason for dogs being surrendered to shelters or rescues is behaviour issues, most due to lack of training.
It takes time to train a dog. It takes time to do anything well especially when you are working with a living being. Children are not forced into classes that are too advanced for them and then chastised because they don’t know how to do calculus. We do this do dogs all the time.
But luckily for those who have dogs, the amount of time needed at one time is less than you might expect. The amount of time is large though when looking over the long term.
Dogs need to be trained regularly and consistently for very short periods of time over a long period of time. The way to find time to train is to put it into your schedule and make a commitment to do the training, remembering that it is working and eventually you will have what you want and need.
The belief that one does not have time to train comes from not really wanting to or not putting it as a priority.
If you can understand that short sessions of regular, consistent training over a long period of time will lead to a better trained dog, and keep this in mind all the time, then you will be able to help yourself feel better about the situation and will be able to make the changes needed to accomplish the goal.
How To Get The Results.
1. Make sure it is convenient for you to train.
You will need to have your training equipment and food rewards easy to access. This is so important. Having them ready to go for short training sessions is HUGE in getting a session done.
Keep your training food rewards and clicker in the same place all the time so you know where they are and won’t have to go searching for them. Make sure to replace them there when you are done your session.
Keep small air tight containers of food rewards in different locations around your house so that you can reward your dog without having to go looking for them. This way you can reinforce a behaviour during the day without doing a session and the dog will learn faster because you are doing repetitions during daily life.This way you won’t have to waste time getting stuff ready before you start, which usually takes just as long as the training session itself.
2. Know what you are going to train for during each session.
Start each session with a plan. Write it down somewhere for the week. At the end or beginning of each week decide what you will train. Stick to the plan. Decide what behaviours are the most important to you. You don’t need to teach your dog everything at once. Rotate the behaviours you want to train between training sessions so neither you nor your dog get bored.
3. Keep training sessions SHORT.
This is so important. Work on one behaviour for no more that five minutes. Probably even less. For a puppy this could mean one minute or less depending on the behaviour and the puppy’s energy level. Make sure to pay attention to how your dog seems. Not overtraining is the most important thing to be aware of. If you or your dog are tired or get tired during the session, you will be less likely to enjoy the next session and continue with the training.
4. Don’t necessarily train every day.
Skipping a few training sessions or training every other day is not as bad as it may seem. Dogs need time to absorb what they are learning. A day to two break often results in the progression of a behaviour in the long run. Don’t do it too often, but don’t worry about it if you do miss some sessions. Just get back into it as soon as you can.
A couple of other issues.
If you don’t feel like training on a particular day, your dog will know by your body language that you are not interested. Be sure to keep a positive attitude and your goal in mind. This is why it is so important to make it easy on yourself to get the training done by having everything ready in advance.
In order for a behaviour to last over time, training needs to be done for the life of the dog (this is the really long term part). Everyone forgets stuff. Regular training sessions are good for dogs, espcially as they get older. Working the brain helps prevent dementia in dogs as well as in people. This is why you need to make training a priority.
By putting the time into your schedule you will make it a habit and both you and your dog will benefit.
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