Novice dog trainer? Get better!

Since I am a professional dog trainer, it is my job to help my clients refine their training strategies to help their dog become well trained as fast as possible. 

Along the way I see a lot of ways that can speed up training and also derail the best efforts. My show today is meant to help you speed up your training efforts and become a better trainer.

Dog training is like any other skill. Every single trainer on the planet, including me, can improve on what they are doing. There are a zillion strategies out there and this is one reason why I think dog training is the most fascinating topic out there. 

Keep in mind that each of these topics could be practiced at great length. The goal of this post is not to answer all the questions, but to give you guidelines that I believe in and follow when I am working with dogs.

Don’t Repeat cues. Repeating cues will result in dogs tuning you out. You want to make sure that cues are relevant to your dog. If you consistently repeat them, the cue becomes background noise and doesn’t result in a dog performing a behavior. “Sit, sit, sit, sit.”

Do Say things once and help your dog get it right. When you see a really snappy well-trained dog, they do behaviors quickly and reliably. My goal is that all behaviors are finely tuned and become reflex responses.

Don’t Train too long. Dog training is a skill that takes focus and attention. This rule holds true as much for you, the trainer, as it does for the dog. If you can work in short 2-5 minute sessions where you are focused and in-tune with your dog, you will be much more effective than longer sessions where you lose focus.

Do Short sessions to keep you and your dog fresh. The exception is separation anxiety where you want to practice long sessions to desensitize your dog to departures and teach him that when he sees you leave, you will come back. Be clear, concise, consistent and focused.

Don’t Blame the dog for your lack of ability. Dogs are often labeled “stubborn” when they don’t learn something quickly or choose to do something else. Motivating an animal do something is a skill whether you are teaching people or dogs. This is not necessarily easy, but there are proven methods that you can learn to increase your abilities.

Do Always try and improve your understanding of motivation and teaching. Read dog training books, attend conferences or classes and always look at whether you are being clear, consistent and being a great teacher.

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