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Dog Training Basics
Dog Training 101

By Michael Albee
OK, you've spent hours researching the right breed for your family. You've spent many hours on petfinder.com and visiting shelters and rescue groups. The result of your efforts is that you have found the perfect dog. You've had him for a few weeks and you have spent lots of time  bonding with your new best friend. You now have an amazing bond with him. Now What?

Well ... lets start teaching your dog some basic behaviors and maybe even a few tricks! But first you need to know a few things.

No matter what the age, you need to realize that training MUST be fun for you and your dog. If it's not fun, your dog will shut down and will want nothing to do with it. 

So how do you make it fun? How do you get your dog interested and keep his interest in training? EASY, You make training into a game! 

Every time he does something you like, praise him in a happy voice and reward him with one of his favorite toys or a treat. If he sees that you are happy he'll go out of his way to make you stay that way.

Here are some other great tips you can use to keep your dog training fun and keep you dog interested in it.

  • Keep your training sessions short. Young dogs have a very short attention span. Even adult dogs get bored quickly. Training sessions should be kept to around 5 minutes. 

  • Repetitions. Multiple sessions daily will help to keep the training fresh in your dog's mind.

  • Keep it Friendly. Use a light happy voice when issuing commands and offering praise.

  • Use simple and easily distinguishable words as your commands. One or two word commands are always best. (Sit, Stay, Lay down, Come, Leave It) 

  • Work on only one new command at a time. Trying to teach more than one at a time could confuse your dog.

  • Set your dog up to succeed. If your dog is struggling with a new command, slow down. Switch away to one that he already knows so that he doesn't become frustrated. Then go back to the new one after the success of the known command.

  • Set a goal for each training session. Once you have reached that goal, end the session. Even if it means that the session is only one minute long!

  • Follow each training session with a 5 -10 minute play time with it's favorite toy or activity. If your dog knows that training always ends with playtime, he will look forward to it and be more likely to do the training correctly so he can get to the playtime faster.

  • Always start training new behaviors in a quiet setting with no distractions. This makes it easier for your dog to concentrate. Use noisy places and distractions to proof training after they are proficient with the behavior.

  • Only reward a behavior when it is done 100% correctly. There is no such thing as "Close Enough" in dog training. It's either Right, or it's Wrong.

  • Use a High Value reward or treat. Your dog is more likely to work for a chance to play with it's favorite toy, a piece of fresh cooked chicken or meaty smelling treat than it will it's regular dry dog food. This is another reason you must go thru the "bonding process" before training begins. You must know what his likes and dislikes are.

  • Stay positive! Never show frustration, anger or disappointment when your dog doesn't get the behavior right away. Instead, try to figure out a better way to communicate what you want your dog to do.

  • End every training session on a positive note. This means that the dog does a trick or behavior correctly and gets rewarded for it. If you are training a new trick or behavior, end the session with one he already knows. This will help build your dog's confidence and self esteem.

Training is a great way to continue the bonding process between you and your dog. It keeps the lines of communication open, and keeps dog and owner working toward a common goal. 

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