Luna Lovebug Dog Blog Pages

Monday, 14 October 2013

Top Ten Tips for Training Dogs

Luna and I have been working on obedience and trick training since we met four months ago. She has a good number of behaviours down ahead of our intro to agility classes due to start in a few weeks. We will try to share a pre-agility classes video to show what obedience level she is at before we begin.

Since we've been practicing obedience and tricks almost everyday for a few months now, I wanted to write a little about that before blogging about something which we have absolutely no experience of!

Unfortunately, there's a lot of misinformation out there about what constitutes good dog training. Luna and I stick to, and strongly advocate, only positive training methods. This has also helped Luna go from rescue animal to confident pet in a comparatively short time. With that in mind, I'd like to share with you our Top Ten Tips for Training Dogs, distilled from everything we've been taught, read or watched so far. I don't mind admitting that it took some careful editing to get the list to ten tips for the alliteration effect.

Luna Lovebug teaches herself dog tricks
Skeptical dogs may want to confirm what you're saying for themselves

Luna Lovebug's Top Ten Tips for Training Dogs

  1. Nothing in life is free - You have to work for a living, so why should your dog get an easy ride? Aim to get a behaviour from your dog for anything they want in life. Want dinner? 'Sit' Want to go outside? 'Stay' Want dinner? 'down'. Obviously you will need to train these behaviours first, but following this is the easiest way to keep practicing with your dog and the best way to get them to associate doing things that you want them to do with getting things that they want.
  2. Your dog is a simple being - There is a lot of info out there on canine behaviour and cognitive processing, but unless you have a deep academic interest, everything you need to know can be boiled down to this: your dog will do things that feel good to it more and things that don't feel so good less, so...
  3. Praise all good behaviours and ignore ones that you want to see less of. Do this all the time, even if you're not actively training.
  4. Take responsibility for your dog's learning - Everything your dog knows about how to behave, it learned from you. If your dog does something 'bad' take a newspaper, roll it up, and hit yourself with it - bad parent. Then think of a way to train for the behaviour you would have wanted to see from your dog in that particular situation and start working on it for next time.
  5. If your dog is not doing what you are asking them, they're telling you its too hard - It is very unlikely that your dog is trying to spite you. Take it one step back to make it easier, then try it again before moving forwards. Pushing your dog harder won't make what you're asking any easier to understand.
  6. Have fun - This is too important to be saved for last. If you're having fun - your dog will have fun. Never work your dog without a clear head and if you get frustrated for any reason, stop and take a break.
  7. Avoid negative corrections - I say 'no' to Luna as little as possible and never when we're learning tricks. There will always be exceptions, but when your dog does something wrong, rather than scolding them - try to redirect them to a positive behaviour and praise them for doing it right. Imagine someone trying to teach you to use a new computer system and the only instruction you are given is being told off when you do something wrong. How much easier would it be if someone could just tell you what you should do.
  8. Always leave your dog wanting more - train in short, regular sessions, every day if possible. Finish before your dog gets bored, while they are still excited about training with you. If you have a puppy, this is going to mean really short sessions
  9. Train within your dog's comfort zone and set them up for success - Don't expect too much too quickly from your dog. Just because they can do a trick in the living room, doesn't mean they can do it in the park. Start every behaviour at home, then start adding distractions and trying new locations.
  10. End every training session with a win - If you've been working on something that's hard for your dog, make sure you end with a few things they know before you pack up and give them a great big fuss for being so darned clever!

If you want a copy of the Knack Dog Tricks book that Luna is reading, you can find it on Amazon here.


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  4. I found your link on the Cesar Milan training rules article online. I much prefer your approach to training. I adopted my dog when she was already 4-years-old and I was already her 4th home. I find that positive reinforcement and patience works the best....then we can both be relaxed and have fun. Thank you for the great info and you have a new subscriber.