Are you just starting to train your puppy, or you’re interested in teaching your grown dog a new trick? Then, you’ve come to the right page. No matter how simple or complex the skill you want to teach your dog is, there are some basic steps you need to follow. By following these steps, your dog will learn faster and better.
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Determine What You Want To Teach Your Dog
The first thing to do when you’re trying to teach your dog a new trick is to determine what you want to teach them. During this process, experts advise that you don’t focus on what you wish for the dog to stop doing. Instead, you teach your dog a new behavior that counters the unwanted behavior. For instance, if you don’t like your dog jumping on people, you can teach them to sit down and wait to be patted or signaled to when they meet people.
Make the Behavior Happen
If you want your dog to learn a new behavior, it must be reinforced for it. This is because some behavior happens more often and naturally than others. Before the reinforcement of behavior can take place, it has to happen consistently. One of the essential steps to making a behavior happen is to create a suitable environment for it. For example, teaching your dog to spin in a circle requires you to set up an exercise pen in a large circle.
Lure The Behavior
Luring is one of the most effective ways to get your dog to learn a new behavior. In most cases, people use food treats to achieve this. However, they can still use toys. Food luring involves having a treat in a closed hand and using the same hand to guide your dog to your desired position.
Shape The Behavior
After luring, the next step is to shape the behavior. Shaping is more effective when you and your dog are familiar with the clicker. It involves dividing the behavior into small actions so it’ll be easier for your dog to learn it.
Capture The Behavior
When you want to capture behavior, you have to wait for the action to occur naturally before you reinforce it. For instance, if you want the dog to stretch more often, you can reward them when they stretch naturally after getting up from their bed in the morning.
Keep Sessions Short
Dogs get bored easily, so they can become irritated and unfocused if you keep training them for too long. No matter how badly you want your dog to learn a new behavior, keep sessions between ten to fifteen minutes so you can have the dog’s attention. It’ll only result in a waste of time if you keep training yet you don’t have your dog’s attention. Also, it’s advisable to divide your sessions into mini-sessions and make them fun for your dog. Mini sessions are highly recommended because repetition helps in making learning faster and increasing memorization.
Use Hand Motions
For a long time, the use of hand motions and quick noises such as whistles and clicks has been very effective in training a dog to learn a new behavior. There is some evidence that incorporating this activity into training sessions helps dogs learn faster. For instance, as someone who intends to make your dog learn how to sit, you can help your dog sit gently with your hand instead of just telling it to sit. It helps your dog learn that what you’re doing means sitting. Additionally, it helps your dog learn how to perform this behavior even without you saying it with your mouth.
Useful Tips To Incorporate When Training Your Dog To Learn A New Behavior
When your dog successfully carries out the behavior you want them to exhibit, the best thing to do is to show excitement and praise it. Doing this will help the dog understand that you’re pleased with that kind of behavior. However, you must understand that there are different kinds of praises and rewards that dogs like. For a food-oriented person, the best form of reward is a simple piece of dog food or treats. On the other hand, praises or head pats are the best forms of reward for a dog that isn’t food-oriented. The important thing is to ensure the reward or praise is given immediately after. Since dogs live in the moment, they need to be reassured they’re doing the right thing as it’s happening. In about a week or two after training, your dog should be able to perform the new behavior without treats.