Top Tips for Fun Training Sessions
January is National Train Your Dog Month! Training is a wonderful way to overcome the winter blues for you and your pup. The benefits of training include increased problem-solving skills, mental exercise and stimulation (especially helpful if weather keeps you indoors), and bonding time for you and your dog.
Whether you’re attending a group class, working one-on-one with a trainer, or training your dog at home, here are the top tips to make your training sessions fun and successful.
- Know the behavior you’re going to ask your dog to do and what signal you are going to use to ask for that behavior.
- Only reward if your dog does the behavior you asked.
- If you’re not clear on your intentions, it’s hard for your dog to follow through.
- Rewards are good! They pay your dog for doing what you wanted and keep them coming back for more.
- Train with different types of rewards including different foods, praise, toys, play time or other activities your dog enjoys.
- Save their favorites (most exciting) for training new behavior or for when you increase the difficulty, for example, when you go outside where distractions are abundant.
- Asking for the same behavior many times in a row can get tedious for you and your dog.
- Take pet and play breaks, alternate the skills you work on and change locations (if possible) to keep your pup excited and engaged.
- End your training sessions on a good note. A few minutes of play with a beloved toy, another dog or with you can help a dog retain what they just learned in your training session.
- If you’re working on something new or difficult for your pup, end with a few reps of something easier that your dog knows well.
- If you’re looking for a new challenge for you and your dog, consider turning a behavior your dog does or offers naturally (without you asking) into a trick! The benefit is that your dog already likes to do this behavior.
- Examples include jumping in a circle, resting their head on your lap, howling, or sneezing.
- When your dog offers this behavior, reward it.
- This can cause your dog to offer the behavior more to earn that reward.
- Once your dog is offering the behavior more frequently, add a verbal cue or word to identify it as your dog offers the behavior.
- This helps your dog associate the behavior with the word.
- With practice, you’ll be able to say the word and your dog will respond with the new behavior, resulting in a new trick to show off that your dog loves too!
Celebrate National Dog Training Month by training your dog for 5-15 minutes, three days a week. These short and sweet sessions are easy to accomplish and still reap all the benefits. If you’re having trouble teaching your dog a new behavior or want additional training support, find a Camp Bow Wow location near you.