Training a dog is easy if you can think like a dog. Problem is most if us have trouble figuring out other humans let alone canines.
I think there are a number of primary rules no matter what you are training your breed to do.
Timing is everything. If you don’t time your commands, rewards and corrections the dog has no idea what you want it to do. For instance, today at a barbeque my mates dog bite a small child, only very lightly and frightened the life out of the poor kid. The kid had gone to take the food out of the dogs bowl, not a good career move.
The kid came inside crying, we worked out what had gone wrong and my mate went out to growl at the dog. That had no value. At the point of time the dog was growl at, he was simply sitting on the back verandah. He would have though the growl was for sitting, or sitting in that particular spot or for looking in the particular direction he was looking in or just about anything else other than his interaction with the child 10 minutes ago.
In order to associate a behaviour with a reward or a punishment the reward or punishment must take place at the time the behaviour is being carried out, or as it is about to be carried out or a split second after it is carried out.
Even if my friend had been outside when the dog bit the child and growled at the dog straight after the dog may have thought he was being growled at for letting go of the child’s finger!
Timing is everything.
Getting your Dogs Attention
You can’t give a dog a command unless he is paying attention to you. Attention may constitute the direction their ears are pointing or a slight turn of the head towards you (remember dogs have very good peripheral vision) but whatever it is you must have it before you can train your dog, no matter what the breed of exercise.
To this end you need to work out what makes your dog tick. I thought my labrador, who is very food focused, would work will for a tidbit. Problem was he was so food focused he forgot about the exercise and focused only on the food! Many breeds of dog with ball fixations have the same problem.
Work out what you can use to work with your dog,
- a pat
- a scratch behind the ears
- saying their name
- saying the words “watch it”
- clicking your fingers
- tapping your chest
- a furry toy
- a ball
By the way if you’re going to use food use something special, cold cooked sausage or dried liver, whatever works. Trying to tempt your dog with their normal food is often like trying to tempt a child to do their chores by offering them broccoli!
This motivator, whatever it is, is under you control, It must come out only when you say and go back when you say, well before the dog gets sick of it and it looses it’s attraction as a training motivator.
The importance of having Fun when dog training.
If it’s not fun for you it won’t be fun for your dog. Make training short and good, not long and boring. 5 minutes of good standard dog training is worth far more than 30minutes of sloppy, lazy, rebellious training, and some dog breeds tire quicker than others, so adjust this to your dog.
I often tell people when they take their dog for a walk they should only heel for two of three house, with total attention on their dog, then release and praise your dog to walk on a long leash until you are ready to go heel again. Two or three times per walk and both you and your dog will be a lot less frustrated, and you will have trained your dog rather than annoyed him!