A boring handler will not get the same results as a handler that is more animated and makes it a point to engage the dog during the training process. Read on for a few tips on how to be a bit more appealing to your canine companion.
Make it a point to make training fun for the dog. This helps keep the dog engaged and interested in wanting to play your silly human games. This mindset can also make training a more enjoyable experience for you as well. Go into training with the intent of having a good time and bonding with your dog.
If you’re bored with training, you can be certain that the dog is bored. If you’re getting frustrated while training, you can be certain the dog is getting frustrated, and possibly frightened as well. A frustrated human and a frightened dog are a terrible combination that will not produce good results. If you’re frustrated, take that as a sign that you need to take a break from training.
Your tone and level of enthusiasm matter. Try being slightly animated and fun to work with. Experiment with your tone and enthusiasm to find what works best for you and your dog.
Speaking in a “nice” rather than a demanding tone often works wonders. I often have to remind folks to “put a little sugar in it!”. When they do, they see the result and actually start to enjoy the training process. I can usually see them exhale and start to physically relax, which the dog picks up on as well. If you are relaxed, the dog will likely find you safe to work with. Dogs think in terms of safe vs. scary… you don’t need to be scary when you train.
Make it a fun game. Keep the dog on its toes with a variety of cues in different orders. Because the dog doesn’t know what cue comes next, it’s less likely to get bored.
Examples: - sit, down, stand, back, spin
- touch, watch me, sit, high five, down, settle rollover
- sit, down, wait, come
Whatever cues your use, adding in some variety will keep training more like a game and fun for the dog. A dog having fun will be more likely to repeat the behavior than a dog that finds it boring and monotonous.
A few ways to keep training fun include:
- utilizing playtime for training by working basic obedience cues while the dog is a bit excited
- keeping the dog on its toes in terms of what you will cue next
- playing games like hide and seek or find it
- sprinkle some training series while out for a walk
- do trick training in new places, or using a dog’s innate drive(s) as a reward during training
- before you throw the ball or a frisbee, ask for a sit, spin, back or any cue the dog knows
Don’t over-drill your cues – you will lose the dog and risk the training debacle of “learned irrelevance”, which will be explained in a future post. Instead, keep training a fun activity that leaves the dog wanting more!
©Kate Godfrey, 2019 www.comprehensivecaninetraining.com