With training, two things are key to your dog learning and understanding what you are asking of them – timing and positive reinforcement.
Watching my little girl Arna learn new skills always amazes me. She is not even a year old yet but practises moving her body in certain ways over and over until she has mastered the skill. And this reminds me that our dogs are no different, except what we are asking of them often isn’t a natural or instinctive behaviour for our dogs (when does a dog ever ask another to ‘go to bed?!) As a result, we must be the parents, the role models, and teach them exactly what we mean when we say certain command words.
A common issue I come across in training is an owner not giving the command word or positive reinforcement (a tasty treat in this example) at the correct time. For our dogs to learn our ‘foreign’ language we need to show them clearly what we mean or want when we say a command word. We then need to repeat this process of showing them and saying the word until they are able to perform the action without being guided by you and the tasty treat.
To see what I mean, take a look at this video where I teach the command ‘stand’. Notice how I only say the command when Bertha is in the stand position – not when she is moving/walking forwards and not before she is stood up and still in the sit position. Notice also how I release the treat within a couple of seconds of her performing the action and me saying the command ‘stand’.
Let me know if you have a go. You could try filming yourself to really see if you’re getting your timing of saying the command word and releasing the treat right. Have fun and remember to finish your training with a wagging tail and of course smile!
Disclaimer: All training is attempted at the owner’s risk and Adem Fehmi accepts no liability for any injuries to pets or owners sustained during training. If your dog is showing signs of a behavioural issue please seek professional advice.