The Stages Of Proper Dog Training
Posted on Nov 19 2012 at 12:36:19 PM in Animals & Nature
Puppies and dogs learn by association, consistency and repetition. This means that it is up to you, to make it as simple as possible to make the connection of what you are commanding and the expected behavior. Keep the training sessions short, interesting and fun. End them, while your dog is fully engaged. You want them to look forward to learning, and not run and hide.
First Stage: Association
For your dog to follow your commands, they must first get a sense of what behavior you expect. To do that, they must associate the expected behavior to the command. The word or words mean nothing to them, until you demonstrate the expected association to that command. To put yourself in your dog's place, imagine you are in a foreign country, and you have no experience with that language. You need to find a restroom, so what do you do? Somehow, you have to communicate that need, in a civilized manner, so you have to find the simplest way to express it. The same will hold true for your dog, so keep it simple so that they can make the association.
Second Stage: Consistency
There is nothing more frustrating for your dog than inconsistency. If everyone in your home are inconsistent with commands and expectations, your dog will never acquire the correct association for following commands. Consistency simplifies dog training, whether it is obedience or behavior. When everyone living and working with the dog is consistent with commands and expectations, your dog will acquire the association faster, and respond appropriately.
Third Stage: Repetition
You have to be prepared to repeat yourself as many times as it takes. The key to learning associations during dog training is consistent repetition. Once your dog has a grasp on the expected behavior, you can make learning more interesting, and raise the bar. Challenge them, and keep it fun. Nearly all dogs want to please their owner. To get more out of your dog, challenge their minds by expanding and varying commands, until your dog responds appropriately to the simple command at least 90% of the time. That is a fair assessment that your dog comprehends what is expected.
Fourth Stage: Reinforcement
Rather than giving a command over and over again verbally, try to reinforce your command with a physical gesture. Watching and responding to your hand commands not only keeps your dog focused on you, it reinforces the behavior that you are expecting, without boring your dog to tears.
Fifth Stage: Maintenance
Dog training is a labor of love that never ends. All too often, people enroll their puppy or dog in one training class when they are young, and expect it to last a lifetime. The most well-behaved dogs are the ones that learn to respect boundaries and interact positively with people and other animals, on an on-going basis. Most people find by maintaining and expanding their pet's training all through their lifetime, their dog stays attentive and sharp. Work your dog for a few minutes daily. Work training into their daily routine, and you've doubled the training time. The more time you invest, the greater your return.