The Importance Of Praise For Your Dog

Posted by on September 24, 2008 at 12:50 am

One thing that training puppies and raising kids have in common is that if you have their full attention, they will learn the lesson faster and better. Puppies make it easy on you because there is nothing they want more than your happy face pointed in their direction. Here are 5 ways to accomplish this, therefore learning the lesson in half the time:

1.) Use potty time. Puppies love to go outside. Since you are already rewarding him for fast response outside, with loving praise and a happy face, use the excitement to work on another lesson at the same time.
For example, work on his leash breaking. Even if you have a fenced in yard he should be getting at least some of his housebreaking time on a lead. A dog who is always loose in his yard when he goes will not go on-lead in a strange place. He will hold it so long you think he surely will burst. Of course this is not healthy for him, and you never know when you will need to take him out on lead.

As soon as he is finished his potty and received his happy praise, say, “Wanna work?” in such an excited voice he will happily agree. Spend a few minutes with his heeling and sitting work, depending on where you are in his lessons, and give high praise. It does not have to be a full session, just an added minute or two to reinforce the lessons he is currently working on.

2.) Use meal times. At no point in the day do you have your dog’s attention stronger than when he is hungry. Do not tease him with his food, ever, or take toooo long to give him his meal, but you can make a fun game out of a few little lessons before he receives his plate.
For example, since he should already be learning to sit calmly off to the side as his food is being prepared, (also when you are fixing your own), work on a short version that will encourage success. Rather than asking him to sit/stay for the whole long time, reward him with little bites as you go. If he sits for 30 seconds, give him a bite with high praise, release him for a moment, and place him again with a fresh command, only repeating the command when the first one ended in success. Never repeat a command if he fails to obey. In this case, quietly with a stern face, place his body back where you first put it with a light nudge to stress the point that “here is where you are supposed to be.”

3.) Use the happy time when you let him out of his crate. You do not want to make too large a fuss when releasing him, just open the door and let him out, but of course it makes him happy and focused on you anyway. Once he is free and you are loving him up, say, “Wanna work?” and do a little 2 minute lesson, like sit, or down. Since he is excited only ask for 5 or 10 seconds at most, then praise praise praise! You must train when it is difficult for the dog to do it or he will only behave when he wants to behave, not when he NEEDS to.

4.) Use a new toy. Just like with his food and treats, do not withhold a new toy for longer than 2 minutes or so. Get his attention with it by letting him smell and taste it a little, without releasing it to him. The moment you give him complete control over a chewie or toy is a huge reward for him, so make him earn it. Do a few lessons, like a 1 minute down/stay or any other command that you are already working on. Do not introduce new lessons when the puppy is already excited. Use calm time for that.

5.) Use his regular session time. He loves his on-lead work time with you already, so before and after each work session, work on things that aren’t actually session work but, say, good doggy manners or just understanding English. For example get his ball and teach him your call words, like “Fetch” or “Get it!”, whatever you choose, make sure you keep using the same words over and over so he will learn them quickly.

Follow these tips in a consistent loving way and your puppy will learn faster than you ever thought possible, and become the best companion he can ever be.

by Dy Witt



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