Home Training Sessions

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Home Training Sessions

In “A Trained Dog is a Good Dog” I state that it is the responsibility of all dog owners to ensure that their dogs are properly trained. The basic obedience training exercises covered in my book should all easily be within the capabilities of the average family dog. It is also highly recommended that once you start obedience training you should join a club.
However, the time with an instructor at a club is too short to master all that was covered in a lesson. During the six days alone with his dog, the owner/trainer must try to build on what he has learnt at the club. How to go about those home training sessions is what this article is about.

The fundamental task in obedience training is getting the dog to understand what it is that you want him to do!!!

Practice, simple repetition and consistency are how we can get a dog to understand what we expect from him. Dogs are
creatures of habit. If you can get him to do something correctly several times, then you begin to form a habit in your dog of always doing it that way. You then get an opportunity to praise and reward him so that he will begin to understand what gets a reward and what does not. Unfortunately it is also true that when a dog has learnt bad habits they are hard to break. So get it right the first time.

At the club the instructor will explain and demonstrate what he wants you to teach your dog. Before trying to get your dog to do it you have to first ask yourself, “Do I understand exactly what I must do?” Unfortunately, from experience, I have
found that there are very few handlers who will reveal that they did not quite understand and have to be corrected for having used an incorrect method in spite of the demonstration. The work done at the club now becomes your “homework”
to be fixed during your Home Training Sessions. At my club written notes are handed out at the end of a lesson that covers the exercises taught during that session and forms a reference for “homework.”

What are Home Training Sessions?

Like taking your dog for regular daily exercise or walks, a short period of time needs also to be set aside to work on specific dog training commands and exercises. These sessions should start in a distraction free area like a living room or a quiet corner in the yard. Too much activity or noise will cause too much distraction making it harder to train the dog.

Practice in different places from time to time e.g. house, garden, driveway, backyard etc. Train at different times of the day and aim to finish the food reward at the end of the session. Praise with a happy voice and enjoy the sessions.

Plan your sessions

During the last 5 minutes of a lesson at the club the instructor will give the class an idea of what should receive special attention during the week. For example, he may ask everyone to practise the “down.”  He may also give pointers to what you need to concentrate on. Thus everyone should have an idea of the areas where their doggie could improve.

It is a great idea to sometimes sit down and jot down a few of the things you want to attend to in the coming weeks. Then, plan to do just one thing during a session.

Polo was inclined to drop the dumbbell during the “present” in front of me. I then would take her into a room, place 3 treats on the table for her to see. Putting my foot on her leash so that she cannot leave, I would then go through the sequence; “Take it,” “Hold it” and “Give” followed first by praise and then a treat. The fourth repeat is rewarded with, “Go play!” This exercise I repeated many times during the week, sometimes more than once a day.

It is not practice on a task that makes perfect but repeated consistency that makes it perfect!!!

Always end on a positive note

Break down the exercise into simple steps for the dog to easily grasp what you want him to do. If after 3 attempts he is still not getting it quite right, take a short break and try again later.

A mistake that beginner trainers often make is to try and “stretch” an activity too long until the dog actually begins to make a mistake which ruins the exercise for both. It has happened that I would take Quanto all the way to the training field to practice an item only to find that he did it perfectly the first time. We then play for a while or do something different before returning home satisfied. Length of session: 3 minutes!

Obedience Training should be continuous

Dog training need not be assigned to sessions. During the day there are many opportunities to reinforce your dog’s training. “Wait” at the door before going outside, “wait” before entering the vehicle and again “wait”  before getting permission to jump out. “Down – Sit – Stand” at meal times.

Practice in different places from time to time and at different times of the day if possible.

It does not matter where you are, you can always find an opportunity to do a bit of obedience training

General

Please remember that dog training should not only be concentrated on the performance of obedience exercises by the dog. It should also be aimed at bringing out the character of your dog – its energy, spirit, courage and power. It is my respect for his love and devotion to me that has made training Quanto such a pleasure.

 

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