Five Tips to Keep in Mind While Training Your Dog
Is training your dog on your list of New Year resolutions? Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that National Train Your Dog Month is after the turn of the New Year, when many folks are looking for ways to incorporate better habits into their daily routines.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind if your pet hopes to master some new commands or tricks this year…
- Master the basics first. Before we can run, we must first walk! By learning the basics first, such as “come,” “sit,” and “stay,” you can venture out to some of the more “flashy” tricks. Your pet will struggle with “shake” or “roll over” if he or she is still struggling with the first step of sitting.
- Monitor interest and start slow. To avoid your pet becoming frustrated, it’s not recommended to pound out a long training session at first. If your pet is appearing tired or looking to distractions rather than continue focusing on the training, perhaps leave it for the day and come back tomorrow with fresh perspective and more practice.
- Reward good behavior. If your pet successfully achieves the resulted command, reward them! Treats are most common, but try to break them up a bit into smaller pieces so that rewards don’t turn into weight gain – especially if weight loss is another New Year’s goal! Positive reinforcement is another effective reward for many pets.
- Consistency is key. Whether you are using a verbal command or a verbal prompt coupled with a hand gesture, be consistent in what you use. Don’t switch up the cues once the command has been taught and/or practiced.
- Practice! Just as you notice when you learn something new, it only gets better and more natural with time. Schedule a small window each day to practice or make it part of another routine you already share with your pet. The more you practice, the better your pet will be, the more confidence you’ll both have and the more new tricks you can learn together.
If these aren’t working for you or you want to really dive into the training beyond what is done at home, consider professional training. Professional trainers have likely seen it all – from pets that lack some initial motivation to difficult cases of stubbornness. We have some amazing training facilities here in McHenry County that can help your pet master obedience and beyond.
By learning tricks and obedience, not only will you be helping your pet keep his or her mind sharp, it’s a great bonding activity and one that you can both enjoy together!