9 Dog Training Hacks From Professional Dog Trainers
Raising a dog is harder than it looks – and it doesn’t look easy. Dogs do not speak human language (if only), are instinctual and have unique personalities, and reactions to “proven” training techniques vary widely among dogs. Because of this, we decided to release some of the best workout hacks we’ve heard from licensed trainers. These people have seen it all and can offer some inside information on little things that you can do to make dog training so much easier. Make sure you incorporate these hacks into other highly recommended tactics, such as reward-based training. Every dog is an individual; Regardless of the breed, each puppy will respond to training in their own way. Learn with your dog and meet him where he is, not where you want him to be.
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1. Socialize your puppy early
Courtney Briggs, head trainer for Zoom Room Dog Training, says socialization is “the absolute key to starting the future with the best paw.” Even better? Start the socialization process before your puppy turns four months. Adopting adult or older dogs is a wonderful thing (sometimes these animals are already well trained and house trained). However, if you are looking for optimal control over your pup’s education, the ideal is to begin the socialization process four months ago.
2. Research your dog’s breed
Briggs recommends doing your best research on your dog’s breed, especially if you are a first-time dog owner. This can help you understand the nuanced motivations behind their actions. For example, dogs bred for hunting have a strong prey drive and could easily be distracted during training sessions. Certain tactics may also work better with them than others because of their breed’s roots.
3. Research your dog’s history
Briggs also strongly reminds us that there are exceptions to every rule. Breed standards are guidelines, and if you haven’t gone to a breeder, chances are your dog’s DNA testing will give more than just a few breed results. This makes the dog’s behavior a little less predictable. Fortunately, a dog’s history determines how it responds to training more than its breed. When adopting a shelter or senior dog, it is imperative that you understand the circumstances surrounding that dog’s life. For example, learning about separation anxiety she developed earlier in life has a bigger impact on teaching commands than knowing she is a thoroughbred Doberman.
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4. Exercise after your workout
Zak George, a famous dog trainer and author of Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution, advises owners to exercise their dogs after a long workout. Dogs tend to have a lot of energy, especially as puppies. If you try to teach them commands before they burn off some of that energy and run around the garden, they may be too distracted to learn.
5. Use quality goodies
Zoom Room Training encourages dog owners to view treats as currency rather than food. Getting a treat for a dog is like getting paid for a job. You want the dog to turn around? Make it worth it by offering high quality treats (treats that your dog absolutely loves). She’s more likely to practice turning over for a few blueberries than a pat on the head. (This is where really knowing your dog comes in handy. Experiment with different treats to find out what your dog is drooling on the most.)
6. Use soft treats
One key to successful training is to instantly reward your dog for a certain behavior and then repeat the same process multiple times to keep it entrenched in your dog’s brain. If you wait too long after your dog takes a command to deliver a reward, it may be unclear which behavior was the right one. Waiting too long between commands reduces the effects of repetitions. The American Kennel Club says offering soft treats during workouts will reduce chewing time so you can get straight back to class. Think of soft treats as instant gratification for your dog that you can then repeat right away to make sure the command lasts.
7. Use a clicker
Speaking of immediacy and repetition, you have to be consistent. One clicker offers all three. By using a clicker between your dog’s action and the delivery of a treat, you create an instant and consistent tone that your dog will recognize as a job well done that you can easily repeat. For example, say “sit” and your dog will sit down. Instead of joining in with your own voice, which can vary from day to day, click on the clicker. Then say, “Nice job!” and deliver a high quality, soft pleasure. To repeat.
8. Practice exam
Proofing is the art of training your dog in a variety of locations and environments. It is generally recommended to establish and consolidate commands at home, where it is calm and familiar. Once your dog understands a command, gradually increase the difficulty by testing it in a new room or surrounded by unfamiliar stimuli. Your dog should eventually be able to sit, stay, or shake regardless of the time of day, the company around, or the smells that are swirling around.
9. Stick to fixed meal times
Instead of leaving your dog’s food outside all day and letting him eat at will, set a specific meal time and be as strict as possible about it. Not only will this help maintain a healthy weight, but it will teach your dog that you are responsible for their diet. Obedience to one routine leads to obedience elsewhere. It is also advisable not to exercise or learn new commands right after a large meal. If you plan the timing well, you can have a quick practice session before meals and use nibbles as treats to show your approval.
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