To some, training obedience can be boring. Sit. Stay. Come. Lie down. Free. If it is boring to us, can you just imagine how horrible it is to our dogs? We need to keep it fresh and interesting for both our sakes. So sit, stay and enjoy my 4 simple obedience training tips!
Keep It Short
Keep your training sessions to 3-5 minutes in the beginning and 5-10 minutes when they are more advanced. You always want to end an exercise or session before your dog does. If you see them disengaging, then quickly end on a positive note and try again tomorrow.
Multiple short sessions will have a greater impact on your dog then a couple long sessions.
Change The Routine
Don’t always do the same things in the same order. Mix up sits and downs with long and short stays. One day you can do a couple sits and one 3 minute down and then next day you can do some downs and 2 minute sit.
By keeping it unpredictable, your dog will need to watch you more closely and pay attention. If the dog learns the routine (which they will very quickly), they will begin to anticipate the next action. This anticipation will cause them to break a stay before time or sit/down before you ask them.
Don’t always give treats at the same time. By mixing up when they get rewarded, they will be less likely to get distracted. For example, if the dog knows how do sit and lie down, then do not always treat after each task. You can mix up the timing of your reward. You can ask for a sit then a down then treat. Or a more advanced task of sit, lie down, sit then treat.
Change The Location
- Different rooms in your home; when puppies are just learning basic commands such as sit, lie down or come, I carry treats in my pocket and reward the behavior as they supply it. A great trainer (Patricia Mieser) once told me to put 10 treats in my pocket in the morning and make sure that I had given them out by the end of the day. Once I started doing this, my young puppies learned their basic commands faster then ever.
- Different areas of your yard (front, back, side)
- Your friends home/yard
- Local Parks; there is always something new to look at in a park. You can always start off by working in the parking lot next to your car then going to different areas of the park.
- Play Grounds; play grounds are great when you are looking to work the advanced dog and want some distractions. You can go when no one is there and then go when it is full of children.
Change The Rewards
Food: There are so many different options of treats for your dog. Keep then guessing. Keep them wanting more and enjoying working for their treats. Find out what your dog’s favorite treats are and use them when they hit a road block or just because you love them! Surprises are fun for us and for our dogs.
Some ideas include; hot dogs, cheese, commercial treats or dehydrated meats such as chicken or beef.
Toys: Some dogs are more motivated by toys. Try out different options and find their favorite toy. Some dogs are ball driven, others love frisbees or tug toys. Keep certain toys just for obedience training to add the excitement and their anticipation of working with you. By keeping training fresh, fun and new, your dog will be excited to work with you. By being creative, it makes it more fun for you too.