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9 tips to make training your dog easy

Get your pup sitting, staying and behaving. Veterinarian Dr Amanda Chin shares her secrets.

Small white lab puppy standing in fall leaves looking up at camera
  1. Start young

Early socialisation leads to a well-adjusted dog. The critical socialisation period is between 7 and 14 weeks of age. During this time it is essential that your puppy be exposed to a number of positive experiences, as this will set the foundation for its memories. Examples of experiences include positive exposure to bearded men, masked people, toddlers, narrow spaces, parks, whistles, thunderstorms, vacuums, hair dryers, brooms, balloons, bikes, older pets and other puppies.

  1. Choose the right training environment 

Define the training area. Choose an environment that is familiar, relaxed and free from hazards and distractions. A focused pet will learn a lot quicker than a distracted one.

  1. Use highly desired rewards

If you want a dog to respond positively, it needs to be rewarded. Offering them a highly desirable treat such as cheese or liver treats will keep them motivated. Being equipped with a treat pouch is important before each training session.

  1. Reward within half a second

It is important that the desired behaviour is rewarded within half a second. After this time, the dog may not recognise the link between the reward and the desired behaviour.

“Never punish a pet. Instead, simply ignore the undesirable behaviour and try again.”

  1. Be accurate with reward placement

To ensure rewards are timely, you must be prepared to throw the treat. Throwing treats also allows you to perform training in quick succession and allows for more movement. For example if you want your pet to go to its mat, you must be prepared to throw the treat towards the pet as soon as it reaches its mat. This is particularly useful if you are training your pet to go sit on its mat or to put its toys away.

  1. Keep training short and regular

Training sessions should be kept short at 2-3 minutes. But they should also be repeated multiple times a day for consistency.

  1. Be patient

Different dogs learn at different rates with younger dogs learning quicker than older dogs. If your pet isn’t picking it up, make the goal easier.

  1. Don’t react to undesirable behaviour

Never punish a pet. Instead, simply ignore the undesirable behaviour and try again. If the pet is picking it up quickly, make the goal harder. But never move onto a new skill until the pet has mastered it.

  1. Keep training fun and positive

Training is for all pets no matter what age and must be positive and consistent. Keeping a fun training session will improve motivation. Simply speaking in a friendly, higher-pitched voice will encourage a more responsive pet.

The bond between you and your pet can be strengthened through training. Training can improve communication between you and your pet as well as offer them great mental and physical stimulation.

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