Training a dog is not always easy. But it doesn’t have to be too difficult either. By accepting and following four simple elements of dog training, you and our dog can have a fun and rewarding experience. The four most important elements of dog training are Time, Patience, Positive Reinforcement, and Consistency – or TPPC.
Spending time training your dog does not mean hours a day every day. You only need to spend 5-15 minutes per day. Some dogs will catch on to a command such as sit within a couple of weeks while some dogs may take longer. But you don’t need to spend more than 15 minutes per day working on the command unless you can see that your dog is really focused on and enjoying the training. Spending too much time in one day could make both you and your dog bored or frustrated. In turn, boredom and frustration could inhibit the learning process.
Training your dog requires lots of patience. Your dog may not catch on right away and that is okay. If you are impatient with your dog during training, your dog will be more concerned about not pleasing you than on focusing on what they could do right to earn your praise or a treat. If you are finding yourself getting frustrated, stop. Take a breath or two. Then perhaps get your dog to obey a few commands which he does understand in order to build his confidence. Or break down the command he is learning into simpler or shorter steps. With sitting, for example, if you are having difficulty in getting him to sit properly, praise him for any slight squat down, even if it is only for a split second.
Try to avoid using physical punishment or force on your dog during training. Your dog will learn better if he wants to learn. And he is not going to want to learn if he is being punished. Learning should be fun for your dog so use lots of positive reinforcement such as praise and/or treats for good behavior.
Training needs to be consistent. Try to practice a new cue at least every-other-day. Every day is best, but it is okay if you miss a day every now and then. When your dog has learned the new cue, you won’t need to work with him every day anymore, but you will want to have a refresher training session once in a while.
Being consistent also means you need to use the same cue when teaching your dog a specific command. Don’t say “sit” one day and “sit down” the next. And don’t teach your dog to walk on a leash at your heel one day, then let him wander two feet ahead the next. (If you want to give your dog a bit more freedom on some walks than on others, use a different command.)
Using TPPC in training your dog will go a long way in helping your dog learn their commands. So long as these elements are practiced, your dog will learn to look forward to training sessions so that he can have the opportunity to please you (and the opportunity to be given some delicious treats). A well-trained dog will make both you and your dog very happy together.