I am always being asked if I have any tips to give to folks who are trying to train their dogs. I usually do but unlike others I tend to focus on concepts first rather than deal with a specific problem first. The reason I do this is that these concepts are core to training any dog with any behavior. If you don’t work through these nothing that I can tell you about a specific problem like digging or chewing is going to help.
So I am going to try and help you through some core concepts that will help you get more out of your puppy or dog. Now there is no order to these, just start trying to use them the best way you can. Good luck!
How to use boredom to train your dog
Do you remember when you were a kid and got really bored? You probably would have done anything, including mowing the yard just for something to do. OK, maybe not! Well you get the idea. The point is boredom can be a great motivator if use correctly.
If you already have a crate or a place where you can confine your dog for a short amount of time then you’re all set. Make sure you can do this about an hour or two before you train your dog. Keep your dog confined with NO toys or other distractions. You might even have to put a sheet over the crate if there’s too much commotion in the house. After about an hour or two take your dog out and give him a quick potty break. Now here is the big challenge to all of this. You have to keep your session happy and fun. Move faster, praise louder and try to make training as much fun as you can. Do this and see how quickly your dog improves.
Don’t be afraid of distractions
Every time I hear someone say “you should train your dog where it’s quite so she can pay attention” I want to reach out and throttle them. It makes NO sense! You don’t live in a vacuum and neither does your dog. There are distractions everywhere. Learn to deal with it! So now you’re saying “OK smarty pants but how?” Well I am going to tell you. Start slow, find distraction where you live. You can start right at your house. Have someone come over that your dog doesn’t know and use them to help your dog understand how to deal with distraction. Build up a routine where your dog learns what you expect of him when you’re in a distracting environment.
One thing to make sure of is that your dog knows what the consequences will be if he goes for the distraction. It can be a leash correction or a stern NO. Whatever you decide just be consistent. From there you can start in the neighborhood and eventually out to the real world. Take it slow and don’t be afraid to back up a step or two if you see your dog is struggling. Remember your job is lead not push; he’ll get it in time.