Improving my training sessions


There are going to be a fair few commands that you'll want him your dog to understand, so it is best that you are consistent, using simple and precise language.

If the whole family is to be involved in training it might be worth considering writing up a list of commands that you are going to use ("stay" instead of "wait" for example) so that the puppy does not get confused.

Never repeat

Only say the command word once and make sure the correct action follows. Don't repeat yourself endlessly and allow him to ignore you. You must make sure you give a reward when he's reacted correctly, remember the importance of positive reinforcement over the duration of the training.

Consistency is key

The essential feature of a successful training regime is consistency. You must set up patterns and routines that your dog can easily recognise. Persistence will also count for a great deal during the first six-eight months. You will soon find that always having a treat in your pocket and plenty of love and affection for him will make training a whole lot more fun. Remember the importance of positive reinforcement in effective training.

How the pros do it

When addressing your dog, speak with a consistent voice and tone. Use simple commands for actions and rewards. A firm, strong tone for commands, a higher, excited voice when giving praise and as close to a growl as possible for discouraging unwanted behaviour will naturally resonate with him.

"Keep things simple, using the minimum of words. For example when teaching sit, say 'Sit!' rather than 'sit down', which may confuse the puppy. And when praising say 'good dog' rather than 'what a good dog, well done, you are so clever.'"

Jenny Alton.

"At home, watch your puppies and notice when they do something naturally, such as lie down. When they do, say  'Good dog, lie down' and give them a treat. This is a lazy way of training but very effective."

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Charlie Clarricoates.

"The important thing to remember when teaching your dog anything is to make sure you are both enjoying yourselves. One of the best ways of ensuring this is by using the 'carrot or no carrot' principle and never correcting your dog or putting him under pressure.

"If a dog makes a mistake, remember to ask yourself 'Why?' before trying again. If a dog makes a mistake or fails to respond it is more than likely to be the handler's fault - often because they have not been communicating effectively."

Shelia Bailey.

In a nutshell

If you're having trouble solving a behavioural or training problem it is well worth seeking out assistance sooner rather than later to avoid a manageable issue growing out of control. Remember, the more established a behavioural problem becomes, the harder it is to rectify.

There will inevitably be occasions where you must tell him off, but in these situations try not to use their name and penalise instead by ignoring him, stopping walking or not giving a treat. Shouting and leaning over him will only make you appear as an aggressor and harm your relationship.

If you've established a good bond and have settled into a nice routine then teaching him the commands should be a little easier. The most effective training tools are patience, perseverance and a pocket full of treats.