How to Make Dog Training More Enjoyable

Posted by: Guest Blogger – Jordan Walker

How to Make Dog Training More Enjoyable

Jordan Walker would love for pet owners to learn how to raise well-behaved pets. A passionate pet pal, he writes regularly for Coops And Cages and other blogs on all things pets. For this post, he shares the tricks on how to get dogs to respond well to and enjoy training.

Proper training is essential for a dog-centric home to make sure that everyone shares a long, happy, and safe relationship with the house dog. Training also allows you to keep your dog physically fit, mentally agile, social, and happy. While you do need to train your dog properly, you would want to get your dog’s best responses to the training. The best way to do that is through fun and reward.

Dogs just wanna have fun

For dog training to be effective, you need to understand how dogs learn. Dogs learn by association. What’s more, they are eager to please. They want to earn the affection of their humans, which motivates them to do the things that bring rewards. On the other hand, they feel bad when their humans are not pleased. These canine traits make dog training relatively easy. You can take advantage of them by associating desired behaviors with reward, which allows the dog to learn that doing these desired behaviors pleases you and earns him your affection, a treat (food or toy), or both. Knowing this, a dog will be more likely to repeat the behavior. Keep in mind though that for a dog to associate reward with good behavior, the reward must be provided immediately after the good behavior was demonstrated. Otherwise, the lesson is lost on the dog, or a different behavior is associated with the reward.

Use yummy or appealing treats

Treats are effective motivators that make training successful and exciting for a dog. However, treats should interest a dog. If your treats are interesting enough, they should make a dog drop everything else and participate in the training. Dogs particularly love it and respond well when you use delicious pieces of food to reward them for performing the training exercise. If you replace that dry cookie with something moist and tender, your dog will literally go out on a limb for you just to earn that succulent treat. Still, some dogs are not as motivated by food than others. These dogs may instead want affection like a hug and kind words, or a favorite toy. Get to know your dog to learn what motivators work best with it during training.

Train in a quiet area

Your backyard can be a good place to hold trainings with your dog. That is, until you are attempting to train there but your dog keeps running off to sniff in the flower beds or chase away birds. Then your backyard has too many distractions for your dog. When training, you might want to start indoors where you can control the environment. Choose a quiet area and take out any objects that might sidetrack your dog. Yet, if your dog still wanders off even after you have cleared out the area, consider leashing it during training, but make sure to keep him engaged.

Keep sessions short and sweet

To make training effective, you will need to sustain your dog’s interest, and let’s face it, dogs have short attention spans. That’s why you will have to keep your training sessions brief but engaging for your dog, say around 15 minutes. You should be able to pass on your intended lesson to your pet while allowing it to enjoy the activity to avoid inattention or boredom. The treats, toys, and praise you need to prepare for training will come in handy to keep your dog’s attention. Keeping sessions short but sweet will go a long way towards successful, enjoyable training.

Don’t inflict pain

However, do avoid giving physical corrections and expressing anger at your dog. First of all, physical or emotional punishment can hurt. Dogs do pick up on its human’s emotional states and can become affected by your feelings. Second of all, pain is unnecessary for a dog to learn its training lessons. To teach a dog what not to do, you simply provide negative reinforcement – that is, ignoring what you do not want your dog to learn. When your dog engages in an undesirable behavior, like jumping up on people, you simply withdraw your attention from it, no eye contact, not even a cluck of the tongue. Even a reprimand can be interpreted as reward for a behavior. Ignore your dog as long as it takes until the behavior stops. Only when your dog stops doing the behavior should you provide praise and/or a treat. Third of all, punishment and pain dampen the mood and take away the fun in learning. In fact, if it often receives physical corrections, a dog may begin to perceive training as a stressful situation or act out by “fooling around” as a way to avoid going into training.

Keep things lighthearted

If you think about it, a dog looks at training time really as playtime. Since dogs respond well to affection, treats, and fun, keeping training a positive session sets up a dog to learn what is expected of it more easily. If a dog learns that training is a time for having fun, it will look forward to each session. Also, dogs can sense their master’s moods. For that reason, keep up a lighthearted, playful tone on each of your training sessions. If you are tense or angry, it is best to skip training for the day or until you feel calmer. Training should be a fun experience for both you and your dog.

A dog is more likely to retain the positive behaviors you want it to learn by keeping it engaged and in a constant state of learning. Still, remain open about consulting or employing the services of a professional. A behaviorist or trainer may be able to provide useful insight or a more effective training program to bring out the best results towards raising a well-behaved, obedient, and disciplined dog.