Friday, June 26, 2009

Suggestions for a better training class experience

I am here to help you make your pet a better family member. Training is about creating a two-way communication. You are telling the dog what you want and the dog lets you know it understands by complying. I am here to help you clarify and reach your main objective of a good and well-behaved dog. The group classes are one hour once a week for eight weeks or six weeks for Advanced or Click a Trick. If you have chosen the 4 hour package of private instruction, our sessions will be divided into 6-45 minute lessons or 8-30 minute lessons. This is for the dogs’ benefit and your convenience. However, please keep in mind there is no timeline for success when it comes to training your dog. Learning is always a lifelong process. The number of lessons necessary to achieve your goals cannot be predetermined. So in order to make the most out of the time you purchased, please keep the following recommendations in mind.

1. Train in an environment with minimal distractions—to start.

2. Practice everyday. Every interaction you have with your dog is a training opportunity because your dog is always learning—what it can get away with.

3. Control your dog’s environment so that it learns that all the best things in life come through you.

4. Add one new challenge at a time. For example you can practice in more difficult locations or for longer durations, just don’t do both until your dog has mastered each separately.

5. Don’t try to do too much, too soon. Picture the final behavior you want, and then imagine the proper baby steps required to get there.

6. Behaviors that are rewarded will be repeated. You need to maintain a high rate of reinforcement and many repetitions to make a new skill stick. Be generous but careful of what you are rewarding. Behaviors that go unrewarded become weaker. Use it or lose it.

7. Just because your dog knows a behavior doesn’t mean they’ll do it unless the proper motivation is there.

8. Behaviors you are trying to eliminate always get worse before they get better.

9. Do your homework. Be sure you and your dog are at the required skill level before we proceed to the next lesson. I understand the time constraints that limit the ability to practice. If you need more help with the lesson, we can arrange additional private lessons to spend more time on that particular skill. Either way we will need more time to reach your final goal.

10. I want to give you the tools you need to work with your dog between sessions, so make sure you understand your assignment before you go home to practice.

11. Training is not meant to be a chore; getting a dog is not about adding another hassle to your already busy life. Getting a dog is about having a companion to do fun things with. Training should be one of those fun things you can get out and enjoy together.

Let me know if you found these hints useful at all. I will gladly answer any question you might have about training.