13 January 2012

Don't complain. Train!

Image: Bailey Wading in Parker's Lake by Kathleen Riley-Daniels (Telephone image)

Every dog needs basic manners and this ensures his safety and gives you peace of mind. This basic training also provides the framework for more advanced training work and helps your dog reach his full potential.

When Should I Start?
Immediately start teaching your dog the rules in your house. This is really important because if there are no rules in place, your dog will makes up his own set of rules. The training starts the instant those feet come through the front door.

How Often Should I Train?
I prefer short sessions spread over the day, but work with what fits your schedule. The biggest key is being consistent and spending time every day training your dog. Remember, even a few minutes is beneficial for your dog. Keep your training sessions short and fun, giving lots of praise when he performs correctly so he’ll want to work with you.

Daily training sessions will help him learn and give him an opportunity to practice -- and perfect -- what you have taught him in earlier sessions. If you really want to make it easier on yourself, incorporate the new skills into his daily life too so you reinforce the training and it becomes a good habit.

How Long Should the Sessions Last?
Keep your sessions short and sweet, you and your dog will benefit more from the short sessions. If you can manage several 5-minute sessions through the day that would be great, if you can do 10 to 20 minutes at a time that works too and is so much better than drilling the dog endlessly on commands. For pups, the session should last 3-5 minutes, spaced throughout the day with at least a half-hour break in between – their little brains need shorter work times with more breaks and more fun. No matter what age your dog, more frequent sessions with shorter periods of time will give you better results.

Once you see how much you and your dog enjoy this time together those shorter sessions will start appearing when you have a few spare minutes. Before you know it you’ll be adding in extra sessions and your dog will be improving quickly.

If you have a fast learner, one session may be enough to teach certain exercises. Use your other sessions to review skills your dog has already learned. Or, you may need to repeat the same lesson 3-4 times a day until he gets the idea.  Just remember to stay flexible and remain upbeat. You want the dog to enjoy the training times, not dread them.

Five basic commands to work on with your dog:
·         Sit
·         Down
·         Stay
·         Come
·         Heel (or as I have taken to calling moving forward, “Let’s Go!”

Here’s a quote for your dog training sessions: “Blessed are the flexible for they won’t get bent out of shape.”
Here are a few local places for training:
Outlaw Chinooks (This is me, voted a top trainer in the Twin Cities)
On the Run! Canine Center Great looking facility and lots of options for classes.
Pet Stuff - Minnetonka -- variety of classes and instruction available.

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