Whether we are trying to lose weight, get into shape, save money or train our dogs, the steps to make these changes are usually pretty simple but they are not usually easy.
We often make big plans to make these changes to only have them fall short. We may think that the reason these things did not work out is due to our lack of motivation, however, that is not always the case. Regardless of what we want to change, change can be hard and we often fail because we try to do too much too fast or too soon.
Training our dogs can be overwhelming and confusing. To help reduce the stress and increase the success, I have a few tips.
Start with the basics and don’t get ahead of yourself. If you and/or your dog are new to training, start with 1 or 2 basic behaviors like sit or down. Once you have mastered those, then you can add more (but only add one at a time).
Keep your training sessions short, only 3-5 minutes. It is a lot easier to find time for two or three 5-minute sessions than it is to find 15 minutes. Even if you only practice “sit” 5 times three times a day, your dog will be learning and it beats no training at all.
Try to incorporate training into your everyday activities. For example, teach sit-stay at meal times or practice sit every time to come to a curb on a walk. If you train while you are already doing an activity with your dog, you are increasing their opportunity to learn.
Keep treats around the house and/or in your pockets so you can reinforce good behaviors as they happen.
Schedule “training time” in your calendar, just like you would for an appointment, then stick to it!
Have fun with your training. If you are enjoying yourself, your dog will be having fun too and you will be more motivated if you are having fun!
I hope that these tips are helpful on your journey to training your dog. Try to enjoy the journey and don’t get too caught up on the destination. As long as you take one step at a time you will find success. Training does not have to be complicated or hard but it does take time and some dedication. If you put the time in, your dog will learn more behaviors and your bond will grow- in the end, you will both reap the rewards.
Shannon has been a pet lover all her life and a dog trainer for over 20 years. She has spent her life observing, caring for and training animals of all kinds. She has worked in the Bird Department at Marine World Africa USA, and worked as a handler and trainer for an African Serval Cat at Safari West, a private zoo in Santa Rosa, California. She has participated in behavior studies including observations of bald eagles and addax antelope through the San Francisco Zoo and Safari West. Her education includes a Biology Degree, specializing in Zoology from Sonoma State.
She is a "Registered Veterinary Technician," a "Certified Professional Dog Trainer" (Knowledge Assessed), a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner, a member of the "Association of Pet Dog Trainers" and a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. Shannon is currently serving as President for the Society of Veterinary Behavior Technicians. Shannon's dog training philosophy revolves around force-free, positive reinforcement, however, her ultimate goal is for healthy happy relationship between pets and their people. Diet, exercise, environment and training all play a significant role in achieving this goal. Shannon is currently the owner of Ventura Pet Wellness and Dog Training Center in Ventura, CA where she works with anxious and fearful dogs privately as well as teaching agility classes (Venturapetwellness.com). Shannon has also started a training website called Truly Force Free Animal Training.