“The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” – Steve Jobs
Do you enjoy your job? What makes it fun or challenging? Chances are if you enjoy what you do you have a boss that motivates and supports you. The same can be said for dog training.
Are you motivating your dog, making training fun, following through on commands and ensuring that your puppy understands what is being asked of them?
Motivation comes in many ways when a puppy or dog is learning something new. Food is a great motivator and, when timed correctly, can make a big difference in the success of your training. For example; using a bridge like “yes” or a clicker when your puppy sits on command then rewarding immediately with a treat will help your puppy understand what you want and they will be more likely to respond positively the next time you ask.
Your voice can also help motivate your pup. Think about what you do when you and your canine pal are out for a walk. If you are ignoring your dog they are likely to get distracted easily, pulling on the leash, chasing leaves and basically getting out of control. If you are engaged with your dog during your walk, talking, making eye contact, adding in sits and recalls, the walk becomes much more enjoyable for both of you.
How do you feel when your boss tells you that you are doing a good job? Offering a positive voice when working on training is another great motivator. “What a good dog”, “You’re so clever” virtually anything said in a happy and positive voice will get your puppy’s attention and let them know they are doing the right thing. According to The American Psychological Association dogs can learn over 200 words. When training, this gives you a big advantage – the more your puppy learns the more they understand. The more they understand the happier they and you will be.
To be supportive in your role as the “boss” you need to be patient and ensure that your commands are clear and concise. For stationary commands like ‘sit’ or ‘down’ say the command once, using your hand signal clearly and make sure that you are following through – i.e. do not give up until your dog does what he/she has been asked. For stationary commands I recommend not using your pup’s name – “Fido sit” will become the command instead of simply ‘sit’. Not following through is another pitfall that teaches your puppy that they do not have to do what they are told, like getting caught napping at your desk with no repercussions.
Repetition is another great way to support your puppy’s training. Spend 10-20 minutes a day going over your training. The more often a dog practices a new command the better they will be at it. Not unlike learning a new skill or program at work – it’s not easy the first time but eventually you don’t even have to think about the “how to” you just automatically do it.
Joining a training class is another way to help your dog love their job. Look for a training school that uses positive reinforcement. Classes provide guidance, new and fun things, great distraction training and socialization – all things that are important to your puppy’s development.
Visit www.mypuppytracker.com for more tips on training and development.