10 Tips for Productive Training Sessions

1. Training is fun!

Your dog will enjoy training if you make training sessions fun. It will also help if you enjoy training as well! Play is a very important tool in training and it helps to build a strong bond and understanding between dog and handler.

2. Keep it short.

If a training session lasts too long, then your dog will get bored; a bored dog does not learn. Five or ten minutes at a time is a good length to aim for. Puppies get bored more quickly, so aim for three to five minutes;and, of course, you can have multiple sessions throughout the day.

3. Always end your training on a good point.

You should always end your training on a good point, ending with lots of praise and a game. This will leave the dog wanting more – remember, training is fun! If you are having problems with one exercise at the end of a session, revisit an exercise your dog knows well, so you end on a good point.

4. Variety is the spice of training!

Don’t let your training become a routine, your dog will start anticipating what comes next. You will end up teaching your dog a pattern rather than separate exercises.Do your training at different times of the day, and in a different order. When you are confident that your dog understands your commands, you can start to vary the place you do your training. Start off in places with little, or no, distractions gradually building up to places with greater distractions as you gain confidence in your dog.

5. Stick to the same commands.

When teaching your dog you should decide on a word for each action, and only use that word for the action. You may have two words for one action but never two actions for one word. Don’t worry about having too many commands, your dog will be able to associate a large number of commands with the appropriate action.

6. Don’t continually repeat your commands.

The repetition of your commands will teach your dog one of two things: either that they can completely ignore the command that you are repeating, or that they only need to obey after the command has been repeated 4, 8 or 10 times!

7. Only train your dog when you are in the right frame of mind.

If you are in a bad mood or do not feel well etc. you should not train your dog, your mood will travel down the lead and affect your dog.

8. Smile when talking to your dog.

This may sound daft but try it! You will find that your voice sounds more pleasant, this will make your dog want to work harder for you.

9. Praise your dog, but only at the right time.

It is very important to praise your dog, but it needs to be done at the right time. Timing is very important, get the timing wrong and you could be teaching your dog something completely different from what you intended. Remember: praise is not just patting your dog on the head and saying ‘Good Boy’, but giving a nice treat or playing with a toy etc. Your voice is a good tool for praising your dog – when you say ‘Good Boy’, mean it!

10. Be consistent.

Be consistent in what you expect from your dog, and what you praise for. This will allow your dog to learn what you want more quickly, and to act more reliably.