One of the most common errors an owner makes when training a dog is repetition of commands. As a human, hearing a single word repeated over and over again eventually makes the word sound silly. A dog, who is trying to learn a new language on top of training cues, will turn a repeated command into white noise. Once the white noise hits, the deaf ear follows. Instead of saying “Fido, sit… Sit, Fido… FIDO! SIT!” Give the command once and wait. Some dogs need a few moments for the translation process to kick in. If the dog still hasn’t done what was asked after twenty seconds, give the request again. If the dog still isn’t doing what is asked, it may be time to go back to the beginning and retrain the cue.
Most dogs thrive on schedule and consistency. Having a regular training session is the key to retention. Training should be done every day. It doesn’t have to be a formal to-do, merely a quick run through to establish cues. Keep training fun with games like “Simon Says”, where an owner will run through a series of commands quickly. A dog needs mental stimulation to stay healthy. Training spurs the brain into action.
3. Treat Overload
Luring a dog into a desired command with a tasty treat is ideal. What isn’t ideal is when the tasty treat takes longer to eat than performing the desired task. If using a treat lure, the morsel should be about the size of a pea, enough for motivation, but certainly not filling. Once the command has been established, as in the dog is consistently performing the request without prompting, the treat should be substituted for praise.
4. Time Outs
It is only natural to place human emotions on pets. A dog may look “guilty” if caught doing something “wrong”. He may feel “shame” when an owner yells at him for some infraction. Some owners also feel that a time out in a crate serves as proper “punishment”. A crate, if used properly, should be a place of comfort and relaxation, an area for the dog to go and de-stress. The concept of a time out is foreign for a social dog. They don’t have the capacity of thinking about what they did wrong; they wonder why their human doesn’t want their company.
Voice inflection tells the dog a lot about what their human is thinking or feeling. It is natural to scold a dog when they are caught doing something negative. Angry tones may induce fear, which may cause negative associations between dog and owner. On the flip side, an owner may raise their voice in excitement when doling out praise, causing a dog to become amped and overly enthusiastic. On the surface there isn’t anything wrong with enthusiasm, but a dog may associate overt eagerness with training. The results may not be pretty. Both instances are considered being reactive. Keeping the voice calm and even in all situations will create a lasting impression on a dog. It takes effort, but well worth it to raise a happy, confident dog.
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