Prepare For Training
(This info applies to most clients- there may be some adjustments if your sessions will be virtual, private, or group.)
- Always bring a lot of treats and the right equipment. We don't want to run out of "money" in the middle of an important break-through. We also don't want them to get stuffed or have tummy troubles so the smaller, softer, and smellier the better! My favorite training treat suggestions Here. And we want to make sure our pups are comfortable and secure, so a properly fitting harness or collar is vital, along with a sturdy and comfortable leash. My recommended equipment suggestions Here. I can help with fitting/adjusting during class, let me know!
- I will have a limited supply of treat pouches, clickers, treats, enrichment toys, food puzzles, leashes and some other equipment to purchase for your convenience. Let me know ahead of time or when I arrive so I can make sure to try to have what you need right when you need it!
- Dog's make noise, they bark and howl and growl. They also get excited, anxious, hyper, scared, and over-whelmed so expect a bit of all of these behaviors during group classes! It's normal and we aim to learn how to work with and through these issues. They don't usually do very well with "listening" and responding to cues, even when they may do well at home. Don't get discouraged- this is what we're working through!
- We can't assume our dog truly "knows" a skill unless they can prove it every time, and with high fluency. Fluency means that when you ask your dog to perform a behavior, they do it. 10 times out of 10, right away, no matter what, not offering a different behavior and not after you you not having to repeat yourself, no matter where they are or how far away or what's going on. It's fair to assume this can take months or longer to achieve this level of precision, but the closer to that we can get, the better! We will not expect our pups to achieve this during beginner level obedience training. The further you go with their training education, the more precise their behaviors will be. Moving on to Intermediate, CGC and beyond will help them grow into the well-behavior canine citizen we all want. They will NOT continue any behaviors that don't offer some form of reinforcement/reward. SO make sure you're not inadvertently sending mixed signals. Eye contact, any words or sounds, touching, petting, pushing off, saying no etc are ALL forms of reinforcement to a dog.
- Repetition and practice is a key factor in training success. Hard-wiring the brain to form habits is the most successful way to teach them to simply respond to a cue and not to think about if they want to. The more small successful sessions you practice, the faster they'll learn. It's always better to have 20 successes in a row, rather than an occasional training moment. 24/7 you have the power to influence every interaction and you control all the resources, so use those moments to have your pup learn to pay attention, focus on you, perform desirable behaviors, be obedient and learn impulse control. Ex: each time you expect them to do a sit/stay and wait to be released at meal times, coming in/out of the door, getting attention/pets, throwing a toy etc- you're doing ALL of those things above, easy training throughout every day interactions! You'll find the Practice Tracker Card below very useful! You can write down your own personal goals for your weekly training routine and share with your household so everyone is on track and logging the practice and putting a star for successful practice sessions!
- Positive reinforcement is the over-all method we aim for. We will motivate your pup to want to work for you, their provider of all things. So, nothing is free anymore, not even freedom! Though, LIMA training methods do use other forms of training, I aim to NEVER use any force, punishment or harsh methods. To learn more about LIMA, see info HERE.
- Our dogs will not be consistent if we're not. If we put in the time to develop and show them our leadership skills, the faster they're willing to follow our lead aka "obey" our cues. They will see the change in our routine and see that we have expectations we will not bend on or excuse. THIS is training gold!
- Get ready to think OUTSIDE of your current assumptions, beliefs, and understandings of your dog. Part of my job is to translate, so you're going to learn a new language and way of communicating! Have an open mind, there is a LOT of information out there and some are great, others are not. But the biggest problem is that a lot of it is conflicting! Trust my advice and give it your best try! We can always adjust if need be.
- Have everyone watch THIS important and quick family-friendly video about our dogs perspective.
- There may be some adjustments to your current routine, schedule, and maybe even your home furniture arrangement! Environment, routines, enrichment and consistency all help to carve a path out for our dogs to be successful for us for the long run. It's not as daunting as it may sound- I am here to HELP each step of the way.
- Dogs want to be successful! They want to feel confident like they CAN do a good job. So, if you find your pup losing interest, getting frustrated because they can't quite get it right or they stop trying, simply take a step back, give them a 1 minute play/brain break then reset and start at the top- rewarding them for the simple baby steps like focus or sit, until their confidence is back again.
- "Checking out" mentally- sometimes our dogs are SO over-whelmed, over-stimulated or stressed that they really CAN'T hear us or respond to us or offer behaviors they normally would. If they won't take your treats and can't seem to focus at all- it's a good time to step back or away from the environmental stimuli to reduce distraction if possible. If not, it's best to just sit and let them sniff, look, listen and learn- and not try to ask them to do any cues at that moment. This is NORMAL, especially in a group outdoor environment. Remember, their sense of smell and hearing is more sensitive that ours so their experience can be traumatic compared to ours.
- Exercise- This means each dog needs at LEAST 30-60 minutes of BOTH brain AND body exercise daily to maintain a healthy, strong, agile (and tired) body AND a less chaotic, stressed, bored, hyper and destructive mindset. Dogs will not do well with training if they're not having an outlet for all of that physical and mental energy, we have to channel it for them so they can make more positive behavior choices for us. This can be many activities, the exercises below, you don't even need to leave the house.
- TRY THESE daily: Indoor Exercise: Helpful activities w hen we can't get them outside as much as they need.
Showing up to each class, even if you're not feeling like it or you're not seeing the success you want yet, is where your dog will benefit more than you might think. If you're struggling with a particular behavior, cue or area- PLEASE let me know ASAP so I can offer specific guidance, as each dog learns a bit differently.
YOU GOT THIS!!! I am going to help guide you along a path toward more peace and fun if you just follow my lead, and your dog will follow yours!
DOWNLOAD Practice Goals Chart BELOW