Making the Most of Your Dog Training Sessions
Training a dog can be a time-consuming but ultimately rewarding experience. We all enjoy seeing our pets be well-behaved. It saves us the time and effort of picking up after them if they do something wrong. However, how an owner approaches training can have a significant impact on how well-trained your pet is. Session-based activity is typically how owners approach training their dogs. However, with so many different ideas about training a pet, it can be challenging to figure out which training methodology is best for your fur baby. In this article, we'll look at how you can maximize the effectiveness of your pup's training while remaining flexible and teaching them all that you can.
Why Session Training?
Scientifically speaking, the more often you train your dog, the faster he or she is likely to learn. Sessions are the best way to train a dog, but there is such a thing as overtraining. Ideally, as a pet owner, you'd want to dedicate a short period during the week to train your pet. Many owners opt for a single hour on the weekends, followed by an hour during the week. Dogs tend to prefer this type of training, as experiments have shown that overdoing this type of training can lead to dogs taking longer to learn certain behaviors.
Sessions can be any length of time you decide, but you should be consistent with how you schedule training. Many dogs don't have the mental stamina to think about a particular task for more than fifteen to twenty minutes at a time. Others may be able to work for a solid hour on a task. How you break up the training time depends on how well your dog operates during a particular period.
Being consistent can be useful, as well. Dogs get used to routines quickly, and setting up sessions that can teach your dog about the practice will have them excited for the lesson. Each session should be focused on helping your dog learn a specific task, and when they manage to accomplish that task, they're rewarded. Training sessions can be used as a precursor to obedience training or even reinforcing basic commands that the dog should be used to. You should keep these sessions standard and try not to cut them short or cancel them since it would send the wrong message to your fur baby.
Focus On a Single Goal
You may want to teach your dog several things over their lifetime, but trying to fit all of those tasks into a single training session will confuse them. As smart as pups are, they aren't, they aren't known for their ability to keep multiple ideas in their head simultaneously. Pick a focus that you want to deal with during your training session and work on it. Picking a single command will help the dog stay focused and keep you both on track. If your training session is elaborate and your dog isn't doing well, you have the option of falling back on a previously learned behavior. Using this method can help your pet know that the end of the session is coming and might be used as rewarding behavior.
Use Areas Without Major Distractions
Pups can be easily distracted. As any dog owner knows, all it takes is a single loud noise or strange sound to make your pup look away and take an interest in something that isn't their concern. Even those that have a lot of discipline can be distracted in some situations. This distraction can prove costly if you're trying to get your dog to learn a new trick or command. The best way to deal with this situation is to start your first learning session for your pup in a quiet location that won't add distractions to the session. An excellent option for this is starting in your living room. This location gives your pup a friendly interior space with a minimum of distractions. After you've got the basics of the command or trick down, you can take them to the dog park for your next session and put them through their paces.
Use Positive Reinforcement to End Sessions
Depending on how you set out to train your dog, you can choose several ways to end their training with each session. Offering them a particular soft toy can give them a reward to look forward to. However, if you go this route, it should be a special toy that they don't play with all the time. They'll start associating playing with this toy at the end of their training session. Alternatively, some owners use a clicker to train their pets. The clicker offers a robust, sharp sound that lets your pet know that they've done something right. The difference between the click and the behavior is so close that your pup can usually associate one with the other. Treats can also work, but they have the downside of lag-time between the puppy performing the behavior and then getting the treat. If your pup can't seem to get the hang of a particular trick or behavior, you may want to switch to something they've learned before towards the end of the session.
One of the most important things owners can do to help their pups learn important lessons is to reinforce them during daily life. Your dog will start using their behaviors during the day, and it's up to you to show them that what they did was what you wanted them to do. Dog training sessions can introduce new behaviors and have them practice in a controlled environment. By themselves, they're just a place for your dog to learn something new. You have to let them know how to apply that learned behavior to their lives. Toys and treats are great ways of helping them reinforce this behavior.
Your Dog is Smarter Than You Think
Many owners know their dogs are smart, but they don't realize how deep their learning potential goes. However, dogs work far better with positive reinforcement than negative. Trying to beat a specific type of behavior into your dog won't work. The failure of this method isn't because your dog is not smart. Instead, it's because your dog needs that positive reinforcement to learn. Don't think that your dog will discover a new skill overnight either. More complex skills take time to teach, and you'll need to have patience before your pup learns them. Even so, it's well worth the time you spend training them on proper behavior.