It can be intense and sometimes overwhelming learning new things. Add to that the complexity of applying your newly acquired skills to teach the puppy. In order to have fun and be effective you need a plan. How do you take the new information and skills you are learning, and create an effective strategy when it comes to training your pup?
Here are five tips that will help you sort through the process.
1. Focus on YOUR mechanics and YOUR behavior.
How well your pup learns in training sessions is based on your skills.
So it stands to reason you want to master a certain amount of proficiency with your timing, your treat delivery and keeping your hands still as you train.
I will do short, fast training sessions with my dog with the focus on a certain skill that I want to get better at myself.
For example, I need to remind myself to keep my hands still when I’m training. So I’ll do a fast, short session focusing on always putting my hands back at home base (my belly button area) after I have given my dog her treat.
Another key aspect of the success you’ll have teaching your puppy is how well you take the information and skills and apply it on a regular basis in day to day life. The more you practice it starts to just feel natural to be in ‘teaching’ mode. It won’t ever feel like a chore because you have made it part of the ‘routine’ way you interact with your pup.
2. Feed all meals by hand and use this opportunity as a time to hone your skills as well as teach your puppy.
Practice everyday moves like sit, eye contact and hand targeting during meals. These are not complex behaviors but spending time getting these moves smooth will help build a foundation to work from.
3. Set aside short periods of time throughout the day for more ‘formal’ sessions.
For example aim for a few 2-minute sessions in the morning before work. You might practice walking together in your living room area or a hallway and reward the pup for staying close or looking up.
Or you might set a timer for 3 minutes and practice running and calling your puppy to ‘come!’ (chase you) then rewarding. This is golden for helping maintain that delightful puppy recall response. Finish up by adding a couple of ball tosses into the mix. Excellent time spent!
Set aside at least 15 minutes each day with your young pup to do a series of interesting socialization introductions. Use our Social Schedule to get inspired with things you can do around the house. Then plan for a minimum of two longer outings per week for more elaborate field trips.
4. Practice in ‘real life’ situations around the house, start small.
Some worthwhile examples include front door etiquette, family mealtime etiquette, realistic ‘puppy impulse control’ around the kids. And everyday moves around whatever household distraction your home holds.
For example – practice adding duration to the pup staying settled on a mat while you unload the dish washer or prepare a meal.
5. As you progress start to practice your moves with added moderate distractions. Go at your pup’s speed. But it is important that we train for ‘real life’ skills.
Once your puppy has mastered sit and eye contact around the house head out to an area with mild to moderate distractions.
Maybe your front yard, a dog friendly shop or a public gathering place like the local ice cream shop patio. Have a game plan for this outing. Practice a couple of sits and some eye contact.
This type of short outing with a FOCUS on your puppy, plus the added distractions of real life situations is a great way to proof the behaviors you are teaching.
Now you are on your way to having a dog who will hang out with you at the ice cream shop, maybe you’ll enjoy ice cream together.
All Together Now
Being able to include our dogs in some of our excursions out and about and know they are calm, comfortable, and able to focus on us in public is great positive reinforcement for you for your effort and time spent training.