December 15, 2021
At the risk of sounding like a broken record – having a firm grasp of basic commands cannot be overstated. A fun way to be less bored when reviewing the foundation commands is combining two to make a new command or mental workout for your pup.
Important to note that it doesn’t have to be puppy to lean heavily on the basics! Regardless of age or background, all dogs can be taught basic commands and many can even go beyond that to learn tricks.
As you walk your dog, reward them with a simple word like “yes!” every time they look back at you, and follow your “yes!” with a treat.
Rewarding them every time they do this right connects you with your pet and teaches them to look to you for guidance. It also encourages them to listen for commands and stay close by.
Once they understand that certain actions get rewarded, they will try to figure out what else they can do to get the same thing to happen again.
The main categories of motivators are: foods, toys, or praise.
For food motivated dogs, you can use a portion of their kibble from breakfast or dinner for your training session. Higher-value treats like dried sardines, canned tuna, boiled chicken, or bits of hot dogs are great to try out for stubborn pets too.
If your pup is a picky eater, no matter what you offer as a treat they may not respond to it, so, opt for the toy or praise options first. The toy should be anything their eyes are glued to.
If they are motivated by bright blue tennis balls, then only break them out during your training sessions and put them away afterwards. Giving them access to something that excites them for short periods of time helps them stay engaged and focused.
One of the most crucial things to keep in mind while training your dog is that it may take a little longer than expected. After all, you are learning something new, too! Know that practice really does make perfect.
This sounds obvious but think of how much more foot traffic your home gets around the last few months of the year. New faces, smells, and decorations are literally everywhere and even the most social pup can get overwhelmed.
Overstimulation is a real thing! If they seem off the rails and not able to listen – feel free to put their leash on inside the house and have them lay at your feet – tossing treats to them as they calm down. Then, let the leash go and reward them for calm behavior (greeting new people without jumping, laying down, etc.).
Be easy on yourself. Even the less efficient training days where the tricks are not executed to perfection are still a really special bonding experience for your dog. They just love being with you and the skills they pick up are an added bonus for them!
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