Tip 1: Frame of mind
Are you and your dog in the right frame of mind for a training session? If you are feeling frustrated or stressed from other things going on that day, it’s probably best not train your dog if its affecting the way you feel. In these instances it’s best to give your dog a stuffed kong or chew, or maybe give them some nice calming massage.
Our dogs also aren’t always in the right frame of mind for training either. Has your dog had enough rest? Have they been busy enjoying other activities, such as a nice walk? We view our dog’s energy like a battery. Do they need a re-charge before commencing a training session?
To get the best from your training session, you and your dog both need to firing on all cylinders!
Tip 2: Plan plan plan!
Ok, we do say this a lot but that’s because it’s important! Plan your session and write it down before beckoning your dog over and reaching for the treats.
What games are you going to practise? How long will you spend on each game? (this will depend on your dog). What rewards will you use? Where are you going to train? What are your aims and goals for your training session? What do you hope to achieve? What progress do you hope to make?
Note it all down so you have a clear idea of what you want to do in your training session.
Tip 3: Prepare
Your plan is done! Fab! Now what do you need for your training session? Are you using any equipment? Are you using food to reward? Is it ready to use or does it need chopping into smaller pieces? Are you using differing values of rewards? Do you have those varieties ready? Have you got the toys out that you want to use? Do you need a clicker for what you are going to train?
It’s key to have absolutely everything ready to go and to remember everything that you need so you don’t have to stop your training session mid-flow in order to fetch something you have forgotten!
Tip 4: Set Up
You’ve planned your session, you’ve prepared what you need, now it’s time to set up ready for your session! If you are using equipment, set that up ready to go.
If you are using lots of different pieces of equipment, set up your first exercise and have the rest at hand but not in the way.
You want your training area to be clear for your dog, so ensure the other bits of equipment are close enough so it is ready to be swapped in but not so close that your dog gets confused with what you are using!
Set up your dog’s bed or crate next to your training area. Have your food rewards and toys out and ready to be used, if needed pop food rewards in your pockets. You are ready to go and get your dog!
Tip 5: Execute
Start with your dog on their bed or in their crate, release them when you are ready and immediately commence your training exercise. Transitions between bed/crate into work are so key. If your dog switches off or goes off sniffing on their way to you, place them back and reset and try again. Don’t continue to try and train. What are we teaching our dogs if we do?!
Keep the exercises/games short and sweet and break off with play breaks and back to bed/crate to reset. Are you a; ‘just one more’ kind of person?! We get it, the game is going super awesome and you want carry on! But really, we still want to break off and not over do it! If you struggle to stop yourself, count out the food rewards, no more than 10, stop when they are gone, then have a play break and pop your dog back on their bed/in crate. Then repeat. If you are using a toy, set a timer and stop when it goes off. This will help to train you!
In terms of how long your entire training session should be, this is entirely based on the dog in front of you. This is something you need to consider when planning your session. The key thing is to stop while your dog is still wanting more!