Dog Training – First things first. BE PATIENT!
The biggest mistake that new trainers make with their animal student is that they go too fast and expect fast results. Try not to train the trick it it’s entirety the first few times you work.
Second, know your student.
- Know their natural tendencies and instincts/history.
- Watch their movements when they are on their own to see what they seem to be comfortable doing without influence from you.
- Knowing this will help you to find tricks that fit your students’ ability and will help make the trick training easier and more enjoyable for your student.
Third, visualize the final trick
- Then break that trick into smaller approximations that you can train as individual steps
- Try to limit your approximations to just a few the first few times you work; then you can increase the session approximations as you progress and your student understands what you are trying to do.
- When they understand what the trick training process is like and have been successful at the first couple of tricks, you can progress to more difficult tricks that may not be as “natural” for them to do without stressing the student out.
- When they understand what the trick training process is like and have been successful at the first couple of tricks, you can progress to more difficult tricks that may not be as “natural” for them to do without stressing the student out
- Always have fun and help your student to have fun too
- Lots of praises and some small treats (that are easily swallowed for quick responses) for even the smallest of movements toward the approximation/step you are trying to achieve that session is important for the student’s comfort, faith/trust in you and attitude
- Mix in some playtime/cuddle/or energy burning sessions so that you can avoid pent up frustration
If the student is not “getting it” that session after a few approximations STOP and re-evaluate: Are you missing something? Are you consistent with your last session? Is your body language clear? Are you ready for the session: heart, body, mind and soul?
Be fair to your student, they cannot speak our language and so follow our body language, facial expressions and attitudes instead.
It is also important to mention to make sure that you teach tricks that are very different from each other at the beginning so that the student doesn’t start to combine responses for different things.
There are two different ways to train fun tricks and behaviors. One is by capturing the trick/behavior the second is by shaping the behavior. The benefit of capturing behaviors is that you can get some pretty unique behaviors on command (my dog sneezes and goes to his bed to wipe his face) but the disadvantage of capturing behaviors is that if the dog doesn’t know what you mean by the command there are no “steps” that you can use to remind dog what you trained. The benefit of shaping behaviors is that you build in steps so that you can shape exactly what you want and have steps to fall back on to strengthen the behavior if it gets a bit sloppy or the dog “forgets” what you are saying.
Now, let’s get started!