Training For A Better Relationship


The relationship you build with your dog should be the main focus of any training program.

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 ignore mistakes.

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 you!).

• 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 are made.

• Don't punish your dog for what you have trained or failed to train.

• 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.

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