How to Train Your Dog Yourself

State of Mind – Start training in a positive, calm state of mind. Don’t start a training session if you are going to be or even feel rushed, or have other things on your mind that influence your emotions. Dogs are sensitive to our feelings and body language and know how we feel better than we do at times. Your state of mind during training will influence your dog’s performance.

Enough Time to Train – Often, training sessions can be too long or too short. It’s going to take many sessions to get the desired behavior from your dog. Some breeds learn faster than others, so you have to know where your dog ranks in mental stamina. If you force a bored dog to train, you will likely cause the dog to lose interest in the training and become bratty and disinterested. Remember this – 10 one minute sessions are more effective than 1 ten minute session.

Don’t Stop Training Once Goal Is Achieved – It’s tempting to stop training altogether after a dog masters a behaviour and just expect the dog to retain the skill whenever you want to show it off. However, you won’t be very impressive if your dog is out of practice. You don’t have to continue with numerous formal training sessions on a daily basis, you can relax a little. It’s best to surprise your dog with the command on a random walk or during play once in a while to reinforce the learning. It makes it fun for you and the dog, which also helps strength the bond between you both.

Don’t Repeat Commands Seconds Apart – We are all guilty of this at some point. Being inpatient and asking the dog do something like “sit”, too many times before the dog follows through with the action. What happens when we use the word “sit” 7 times before the dog actually sits, is we are training the dog to wait until the 7th “sit” command 7 times before they follow through. Yes, dogs are smart and manipulating if you let them. What you want is an immediate response to the word “sit” after saying it just once.

Train in Different Spots – You want to train your dog in a variety of different areas and situations, so they get socialized to distractions. This is the best way to solidify your training and ensure reliable follow through with commands. The dog will enjoy the challenge and it will keep training interesting!

Use Treats occasionally – Providing treats at unpredictable intervals, but not EVERY TIME maintains the focus on learning the new behavior and not on being food focused. Remember that your dog wants to work for you and make you proud. So don’t underestimate positive reinforcement through praise and pats.

Have Confidence – Dog’s can sense insecurity and it makes them scared because they see the fear as an unpredictable threat. Do what you need to do to feel in control. Use Positive self-talk before a training session, take your dog to a professional so you can learn together, train in different areas, attend different venues. Be motivated to learn with your dog and have fun!

Know Your Dog – The biggest determinants of a dog’s learning style are going to be the breed, or mix of breeds and the personality. Is the breed a high strung, energized breed? Or a gentle lap dog? They both require very different training approaches. A bold, social dog will require a different approach then a timid or fearful dog. You will have to tail your training style to fit your dog’s breed and personality. So get to know your dog, train, practice, have fun and enjoy yourselves outside and in!