I am delighted to be welcoming back my dog training class members in the New Year. In the run up to Christmas there is not much time for teaching new things to your dog, let alone polishing the skills they already have.
And yet, with New Year’s resolutions, now is the chance to get your dog trained as well as you – and your dog – can. Think of it as getting your dog healthy and fit as part of your family. It doesn’t need to be hard, but it does need to be done. So, where can you start?
One dog training goal, every day.
Small steps, known as Kaizen, can be the key to long-term results. Decide that your dog is going to learn to sit and stay. You are going to teach it so thoroughly that no matter what happens around your dog, he can sit happily and calmly when you ask.
This sounds like a tricky task, but it is not hard to do. Virtually every dog can sit even if the dog can do little else. It is usually the first thing all dogs learn. Unless they physically struggle with it (some bull terriers and sight hounds such as greyhounds, for example), the ‘sit’ is an easy way to gain control.
Practice makes permanent in all dog training
Each day, ask your dog to sit before you give anything that your dog is asking for. It is the ‘real life’ version of dog training that becomes the most useful type! This includes dinner, going for a walk, having a lead put on, any treats on offer, and other things like stroking the dog and allowing the dog out of the door. Anything your dog wants, ask for a sit, first. Your dog training efforts will be subtle, continuous, and well rewarded.
This is what training is all about. When you visit a training class, like the ones we hold at Greatford, we are really teaching the owners what they need to do each day at home. The lessons are organised and structured to give a dog the skills they need, but it is down to the dog’s family to make this a part of everyday life. Without this, any training is pointless. Who wants a dog that is perfect in class but badly behaved everywhere else?
Train your dog to say ‘please’
Work on reminding your dog to show good manners at every opportunity. A ‘sit’ is a great way of asking your dog to say ‘please’, just as you would a small child. It stops the dog leaping up at visitors, and stops them grabbing things without being given permission. Don’t wait for the dog to go wrong, ending up with you repeating the word ‘no’ pointlessly. Dog training needn’t be difficult! Ask your dog to sit first time, every time. Your dog will soon learn that when they want something, they just have to place their bottom on the floor and wait patiently.
Dog treats for dog training are not always food
Don’t worry about your dog getting fat from using food to train him to do things. A treat can be anything your dog enjoys, so make a big list of all the things he would like. Some things will be high value – toys, some kinds of food, chasing you in a game. Other things are lower value, such as fuss. Why? Because we usually fuss our dogs for free, and we do it a lot. However, never stop paying your dog their wages. Wages are essential if you want to be the boss, and it is the same in dog training. Nobody wants to work for free, and slavery is not an option. Pay wages, but expect the work.
Be a good dog trainer, and you will get the pet dog you want in 2015. Happy New Year!