Successful dog training: It’s all about the way

13 JANUAR 2020

TOBALIE

This article was written in collaboration with Hundetraining Simone Gräber.

Dog training is for both humans and animals challenging. Successful training requires a lot of time and patience. But how come that some dogs can achieve fast training results while others don’t?

Not all dogs are the same: depending on breed, character, daily condition and previous knowledge, dogs learn at different rates. Through positive reinforcement and with the right structure, the training can bear fruit very quickly. The biggest stumbling blocks in dog training result in human failings.

Training only takes a long time if people are impatient.

From the point of view of your four-legged buddy, you are asking him to do quite absurd things: out of nowhere, he should suddenly interpret hasty hand movements or other complex chains of behaviour and execute incoherent signals. It also makes a huge difference to your furry friend where he is, what the weather is like, and what distractions are surrounding him.

Quotes such as “the dog knows exactly what he´s supposed to do” or “he is just stubborn” prevent dogs from being trained correctly and successfully. Your treasure could easily be irritated by your impatient behaviour.

Sit, Stay, Come

Even in teaching simpler commands like “lay down” can occur a few obstacles on the path: It is often taught in dog schools that the dog should be lured into the pose with a treat in the hand. To do this, the hand is placed on the ground in front of the dog’s nose.
So far so good. But now it depends on exact timing to say “lay down”. To repeat the words in the middle of the lesson at random and to give irregular hand signals (once earlier and once later), is something your dog can not link with the desired behavior. As soon as the dog has laid down, it is assumed that it has learned its lesson and can repeat it from now on at any time and under any circumstances.

Unfortunately it is a bit more complex: Without the same hand or word signal and without the usual basic conditions it is not natural for the dog to understand your signal. Clear signals, exact reward timing and, above all, a lot of practice are necessary.

How to train your darling right

The key to proper training is patience: Learn to understand your treasure and consciously spend time with your dog. Lead him slowly to things and promote his talents accordingly.
A useful tool is the clicker or a so-called marker word. Your dog learns that this sound is linked 100% with a treat. In this way you can reward him at the right moment and he will quickly understand what you want him to do.
There are several training approaches to learn a new behavior. Here are the most common ones:

  • Through “capturing“ you capture the desired behavior by rewarding it every time your darling shows it by itself. (Whenever he lies down)
  • By “Shapen“ the dog develops the desired position itself. Accordingly, every small step in the right direction is rewarded. (each intermediate position on the way to the place)
  • By “luring“ you tempt your dog into a lying position with a treat in the hand, subsequently he get his reward.

Once your dog has understood what is at stake, repeat, repeat, repeat. If the behaviour at home is stable, you can start tocreate new challenges, like changing the terrain and the place. You also need to practice how long your darling shall remain in the desired position. You should reward the dog for his progress instantly. Just because your darling is performing well at home doesn’t mean he can retrieve your commands anywhere in any situation. This requires a lot of training and patience.

Training steps

What may sound tedious and boring pays off: Each training step is a new and exciting learning process for your darling.
Many of these steps can be done in just one day. It often only takes a few minutes to move on to the next step. In this way your dog learns exactly what to do instead of chasing a treat blindly.
If your little friend really understands what you want him to do, this knowledge will remain in his memory sustainably. There are no limits to creativity now.

Don’t forget how exhausting the training can be for your dog. Dont forget to include sufficient breaks and stop when it is at its best. Always finish with a success. Found a signal for the end of the training session so your darling doesn’t think he did something wrong.

If you would like to know more about this topic, you can inform yourself at  Hundetraining Simone Gräber .

Summary

Quick forcing of results (in the first training step) leads to unnecessary stress for you and your dog and prevents proper learning. Enjoy watching your darling achieve great results in various small steps. With patient training, the exercises will soon perform anywhere and despite any distractions. Practising together is good fun. You can learn a lot from each other and celebrate common successes.