you build with your dog should be the main focus of any training
When teaching something new, if your dog is failing repeatedly
here are 6 steps to remember.
1. Take a training step back to something a little easier where
he was successful.
2. Your dog should succeed at a specific behavior at least 80%
of the time before you ask for something additional. For example,
say your dog does a perfect stay for 30 seconds but then you
move the duration up to a minute and a half with poor results.
Go back to the 30 second stay, and when you have consistent
success, raise it to 45 seconds, and then 60, etc, with success
at each step before moving on.
3. Be sure to highly reward positive outcomes consistently and
4. If your dog makes a few training mistakes in a row, ask for
something fun and easy to reward, such as a hand touch, and
then give a "screw up" cookie, or play a short game
of tug, to keep your dog motivated. Your dog will stay confident
and happy without you having to reward an incorrect performance.
5. Don't increase the level of difficulty too quickly.
6. Don't increase the distraction level too quickly either.
Start training a new behavior in a quiet, distraction-free location
first. Increase distractions (such as sounds, activity in area-
other animals and people, and toys or treats strewn around training
location) slowly and with success.
Success will keep both of you happy and motivated.
Be a splitter, not a lumper.
• Don't lump many steps of a lesson together, be sure
to split them apart.
• For example, if you want to teach a heel with a sit
at the end, be sure your dog is succeeding at moving with you
at the heel first. Reward that.
• Only after you have that success consistently should
you add another part to the lesson; in this example, the sit
when you stop forward motion.
• Lumping too many things together will confuse your dog
and cause him to make mistakes, which will demotivate him (and
• Another example of splitting is training the contact
behavior at the bottom of the A-frame. Teach the target touch
first and away from the contact equipment, then add it to the
bottom of the A-frame to teach the two on/two off behavior.
No verbal or physical corrections should be used when mistakes
• Don't punish your dog for what you have trained or failed
• Add fun and play time into training and stop before
your dog wants to.
• Always end on a positive note.
• Fun, upbeat, and short periods of training are much
more effective than long, tiring training sessions.
• Don't forget to reward successes highly.
• If you are feeling tired or impatient, ask for something
easy to reward and then stop.
The relationship you are building is its own best reward.
Back To Articles Page