Use Your Time With Your Dog Effectively

After recently watching a TV infomercial, I found it amusing as some expert promised that his program, now available on his DVD, had a new technique to train “the perfect dog.” This guy apparently has discovered certain skills, devices, or even magical powers that can suddenly let any dog owner turn their dog into a “perfect pet” for $19.95!

Testimonials followed with dog owners stating their successes, claiming how easy and productive this program is, and achievable in only two weeks! These type of claims always seem hilarious to someone like myself who works with dogs on a daily basis. Most people who train dogs professionally, will agree that the most important part in training dogs, is spending time with your dog.

Spending time with your dog, especially during the early stages, is the key to developing a bonding relationship!

Dogs Need Repetition
To put it simply, dogs learn through repetition. The more time you spend with your dog, the more repetition you can get with each and every command. The most basic commands include: “heel,” “sit,” “stay,” “come,” “down,” and “kennel.” The best way to begin the training process is to start basic, and gradually work toward things that are more difficult. Just like kids learning their ABC’s, or adults taking up a foreign language, doing something over and over is always important in comprehending something new.

Take, for example, a child trying to learn math skills. Studies have shown that once they have learned the concept behind addition and subtraction, the best way for them to get better, is to give them more and more math problems. After mastering certain elements of the subject, we can challenge their brains by making the problems more and more difficult. By doing this repetition, kids can only get better and better at arithmetic. I have found that the same concept holds true with the way dogs learn.

The key to this is to use your time with your pet effectively. What I mean by this is to set aside at least one-half hour each day toward “drill time.” I call it this because we can consider leash and choke chain work drills, but that does not necessarily mean they can not be fun. In fact, most pets will enjoy this one-on-one time with you especially if you include both positive and negative reinforcements during the drills. I have found the right combination of praise (positive) and corrections (negative) definitely builds a strong bond between dog and handler. The key is using the right amount of each during the training process. 

Know When To Praise, Correct
If your dog’s personality tends to be on the “softer” side, try to use more praise during the training sessions. Keeping an upbeat personality yourself and including lots of “good dog,” will help your dog maintain a good attitude. Still include corrections to teach the dog that there is another side of you if or when they get defiant. 

The same holds true for a more stubborn or high strung dog. You still include praise, however, not as much. Dial down your “that-a-boy’s” so the dog stays focused and maybe use stronger corrections with the leash and choke chain. Keeping your voice calm or even a little stern, may help this type of dog settle down and remain in tune with what you are trying to teach. Try not to yell at this type dog because dogs tend to have good hearing and most of these dogs just do not want to listen. Instead, increase the volume with your corrections (negative reinforcements) and try to keep sessions shorter to help both you and your dog.

No matter what breed your dog is or what kind of personality he or she has, the main thing you want to do is spend time with him or her. This is something you can do very easily in your back yard and does not have to be difficult. If you are in a position where you do not have time, give a professional a call so that they can spend the appropriate time with your pet during the teaching process.

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Jason Dommeyer has a lifetime of hunting experience and 15 years experience as a dog trainer. He has turned many pets into expert hunting dogs at Cannon River Kennels (http://www.cannonriverkennels.com/) In addition to training hundreds of hunting companions, he has trained dogs for premier pheasant hunting lodges in South Dakota along with duck hunting lodges in Mississippi and Mexico. His experience also includes both hunting and guiding for upland and waterfowl game from Canada to South America. If you have any questions, Jason can be reached at 507-663-6143 or visit (http://www.cannonriverkennels.com/) He provides dog training tips twice a month.

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