Dog training emphasising positive praise and natural communication methods will build a better bond with your dog and get quicker, longer-lasting results.
Let's explore ten practical tips to train your dog using positive praise, which will not only improve your results but also build a stronger bond with your dog.
1. Keep things simple
When it comes to dog training, simplicity is vital. Avoid overwhelming your dog with too many commands at once; introduce them gradually. Break down training into small, manageable steps, celebrating each success. Stick to one concept at a time; keeping things straightforward and positive creates an environment where your dog can understand what you want.
2. Establish Clear Communication:
Effective communication is the key to any successful relationship. Learn to understand your dog's body language, facial expressions, and vocalisations. Establishing a clear line of communication helps you interpret your dog's needs and respond appropriately. If you need clarification about your dog's methods of communication, we have put together some pointers for you. Click here for more information.
3 . Use Enthusiastic but Calm Praise:
Dogs thrive on positive attention. Whenever your dog exhibits the desired behaviour, offer praise through verbal affirmations in a cheerful, pleased tone, "Good Dog", but don't get overly excited or over the top in praise. Gentle petting can also be added as a reward at the end of a short training session. Reinforce the idea that good behaviour leads to positive interactions; you will notice your dog loves praise.
4. Timing is Everything:
Precise timing is crucial in dog training. This is a three-part tip:
1. Deliver praise immediately after your dog exhibits the desired behaviour. Quick timing helps your dog associate the action with the positive reinforcement, making the exercise more effective.
2. Keep your training sessions short, no more than a few minutes.
3. Time your training sessions when the dog is not overly tired (not after a long walk) and not when the dog is excessively energised or excited (not in the middle of the zoomies). It is tricky, as sometimes we need to train when the dog is over excited, like when visitors arrive or the postman comes by; if this is the case, seek professional advice as an assessment of your dog might be beneficial to find out the route cause of your dog's over-excitement and reactivity.
5. Be Consistent:
Consistency is the cornerstone of successful dog training. Set clear rules and expectations, and ensure family members are on the same page when possible. Consistent reinforcement helps your dog understand what is expected of them in various situations.
6. Utilise Non-verbal Cues:
Dogs are highly responsive to non-verbal cues and body language. Use clear hand signals, body movements, and facial expressions to communicate with your dog. This approach taps into their instincts and helps them better understand your expectations. Always be calm, and do not shuffle your feet or move around too much when working with your dog. Try to keep hand movements deliberate and precise.
7. Create a Positive Environment:
A positive training environment contributes to successful learning. In the beginning, choose a quiet, distraction-free space for training sessions. Make sure your dog feels comfortable, safe, and motivated to engage in the learning process. Gradually increase the distractions over time.
8. Positive Marker Training:
To enhance communication and accelerate the learning process for your dog, try marking your dog's good behaviours with a sound or phrase. Use this sound or phrase when your dog exhibits the desired behaviour. Some use a clicker that makes a unique sound (called clicker training); however, one can use your voice to praise or say a maker word, such as " YES!" to mark the desired behaviours. We prefer techniques that do not tie you to a tool you must have when working with your dog, such as a physical clicker. Your voice is a great tool.
9. Use Play as a Reward:
Engage in interactive Play as a reward for good behaviour. Whether it's a game of fetch, tug-of-war, or a simple belly rub, incorporating Play into training reinforces positive behaviour. It strengthens the bond between you and your dog.
10. Practice Patience:
Dog training takes time and patience. Avoid frustration and remain calm when your dog doesn't immediately grasp a command. Encourage and reward minor improvements, gradually building up to more complex behaviours.
Incorporating positive praise and understanding natural dog communication into your training routine fosters a strong bond and a well-behaved companion. Focusing on these ten tips will positively shape your dog's behaviour and create a harmonious and joyful relationship that will last a lifetime. Happy training!