Patience – As you know your dog/puppy’s attention span is that of a gnat, maybe a fly if we are older than 8 months or so. You are going to have to be patient with not only your puppy but yourself as well. You are both going to be learning a lot of new things, so until you are both in a routine of what you’re doing, just be patient and take your time. You may ask your puppy for something and they are right on it and then half an hour later, they have no idea what you are asking. Just know that it will happen, and you will get frustrated but just relax and give it time.
When it comes to asking for behaviors, be sure that you only say the command 1 time. This is very important. We are not patient beings so if we ask someone to do something and it doesn’t happen, we repeat ourselves until it does. The problem with this is that our dog’s cue for “Sit” becomes “Sit, sit, sit, sit, please sit, fluffy sit”
Practice – Just like us humans trying to learn a new skill, puppies need practice and repetition to learn (about 400 repetitions just to start really picking up what they are doing). Don’t try to set aside 30 minutes a day to work, try to only work 5 -10 minutes at a time throughout the day. This is the time and age of “Busy” which is definitely a 4 letter word in my vocab. I for one am not very good at saying “No”, so I tend to fill my schedule full of so much that I need to do that I find myself saying “I’m just so busy…” it definitely becomes a crutch and a hurtle to us when we are training our dogs.
Remember that attention span we talked about? Here is another place that it comes into play or goes to sleep depending on your dog. Sometimes it’s much better to work for 5 to 10 minutes at a time on a behavior and then go about what you were doing. Work the behaviors into your daily routine so that your dog is able to start predicting when you want them to do the behavior without having to be asked.
Timing – Timing is just something you learn and pick up through training (more of that practice right?). It involves how we ask for behaviors, either a verbal cue (saying a command) or a visual cue (hand signals). Our dogs do not understand English so if we are asking for a cue that they do not know how to do, they may associate the word with a different behavior altogether. If we mark a behavior that is not what we are asking our dogs to do, we are teaching our dogs to do something totally different from what we have asked.
Supervision – Supervision for dog training is not what we normally think of as supervision. It’s not at all about catching your puppy doing something wrong and correcting them for it.
It’s positive parenting for dogs. It’s all about encouraging the behaviors we want and ignoring the ones we don’t. Now I’m not saying that you’re going ignore your puppy chewing on the remote or phone charger, but instead of yelling NO… and exciting your puppy you’re going to grab one of the puppy’s toys and redirect the puppy’s attention.
Dogs learn by what works to get attention. If they get attention for something then it must be the right thing to do, whether that attention is “Yay good boy” or “NO bad dog….” If mom or dad is excited and talking to us, then we must be doing what they want us to do right???? Our dogs do not understand the difference between yes and no, they have no sense of right/wrong or save/dangerous. Dogs do not have an understanding of ownership or value.
Take Jumping, for instance, puppies jump to get our attention and then we put our hands out and say “nooo, fluffy get down” and that gives them just want they want… instead we need to turn our backs and walk away effectively taking our attention away.
The key to dog training is Consistency. We must be consistent in everything we do for it to teach our pups anything