Sit. Stay. Now read. Training your dog can take a lot of time and sometimes it even seems like you’re not making any progress. But what if that’s because you’re not doing it in the best way possible? Dogs thrive from positive reinforcement. That is, if they do something right or well, they will get rewarded. Positive reinforcement can be the tone of your voice, a toy, or an edible treat. Negative reinforcement should never include hitting. Following some of the simple training guidelines listed here can make all the difference.
1. Make sure your whole family is doing the same training techniques. If you use the command “stay” and someone else uses “wait,” you won’t get the results you’re looking for. You should also make sure that you are all rewarding your dog for the same behaviors.
2. Make the commands simple and short. Try to keep your commands to one or two words. Sit, stay, come, here, down, lie down, etc.
3. If your pet does something right, reward him or her immediately. If you wait, they may not associate the reward with the action.
4. Make sure to reward your dog with something he or she will enjoy. Food treats tend to work especially well but other positive reinforcements can include praise, petting, or a favorite toy or game.
5. As your dog begins to learn the command, slowly ease up on how often he or she is rewarded. Go from continuous reinforcements to only intermittent reinforcements. You should get to the point where you are only giving a reward for the behavior occasionally.
All dogs are different so it is important to remain patient and consistent with your training. Your family should spend some time every day reinforcing good behaviors. You can find a program led by an accredited instructor but the real work needs to be done at home. A trainer trains the family while the family trains a pet.
Happy training and good luck!