Training is such a serious word! It makes me think of grueling workouts, sweat and exhaustion! What can you expect during our training sessions? You can expect a relaxed, positive experience that will bring you and your dog closer! There is no stress or worry here!
Dogs are not people. They are dogs with their own ideas and beliefs, behaviors and needs. Because we love our dogs so much, we often humanize them. By attaching our human emotions to them, we are, in my opinion, disrespecting and confusing the dog. They are such amazing beings that we need to appreciate them for themselves. By understanding their needs, our relationship with them will become easier and more relaxed.
Our First Meeting
Once we make contact, via website, Facebook/Messenger, phone or in person, we will schedule our first meeting. I recommend scheduling an hour per session but you will only be billed for the time we use (rounding up in 15-minute increments).
Because our first meeting is more of a consultation, it is half price. You can expect more talking than in future sessions. We will meet, I will meet your dog, we will discuss your needs, the family, etc. and begin our initial training. In general, get a feel for one another and you can decide if you want to work with me.
Upon my arrival we will work with your dog either indoors or outdoors, depending upon space, the weather, etc. I am very respectful of your space and will work wherever you prefer. We can even meet at a park on nice days or a dog-friendly store.
Preparing For Our Training Sessions
Your dog needs to be HUNGRY. If possible, do not feed 2-3 hours prior to training
You will need a collar and a 5- or 6-foot leash. I prefer a leather leash because of its durability and the feel in my hands. This is the leash I like the Amish leather leash from Leerburg because of its versatility and comfort. Treats are an integral part of our initial training and I will provide them during our training sessions. If your dog has sensitivities, please provide the appropriate treats.
I strongly suggest getting a treat bag and treats for use in between our training sessions. As you can see, Amazon has a wide variety and you can also find them at your local pet store or department.
A Word About Treats
Just like dogs, dog treats come in many shapes and sizes. Treats also have different values. For example, using your dog’s kibble as a treat would be considered a low-value treat because it is something your dog eats every day. This is a great treat to use with a hungry puppy. I have hand-fed my puppy half of their meal when we were at home and I was beginning training with commands such as Sit and Look and Come. This prevented overfeeding and the pup got the vital nutrition that they needed.
There are times when you may be taking your dog into a more distracting situation such as visiting a dog-friendly shop or even just going for a walk. There is more activity, more people, different sights and sounds than those found at home. In these situations, you will want to bring a high-value treat with you. This could be any treat that your dog really, really likes. I have treats that my dogs really like and I only use in these situations. Soft treats that are bite-sized or can easily be broken into smaller pieces work very well as your dog won’t have to stop to chew them.
In our home, there is a jar of medium-value treats on the kitchen counter. They are larger, crunchy treats that the dogs get when company arrives and the dogs sit quietly. My guests are often invited to give the dogs treats.
Positive reinforcement and praise are the keywords while the dog is learning. We will use a lot of treats along with a praise word or phrase such as ‘Yes!’ or ‘Good boy/girl’, etc. As time goes by, we will move away from giving a treat each time a command is followed as the dog will get the same pleasure from the praise word(s). Once the dog learns the command and we can easily recognize that the dog is choosing not to obey, a verbal correction is used. If need be, we will add in a corrective collar to give a mild physical correction.
A Word About Words
I’m sure you will agree that Words are important. The words you use with your dog are especially important. Each household must create and agree upon a list of words (commands, praise and correction) that will be used with their dog. It is often helpful to write the words out and post them in a place where everyone can see it, such as the refrigerator or family bulletin board. The dog will be confused and, therefore, appear to be disobedient if multiple words or phrases are used for a specific command.
Commands are instructions and are given in a calm, neutral voice. A list of Basic Commands can be found in the next section.
Praise lets your dog know that they have pleased you and is given in a happy, higher-pitched voice. I recommend “Yes!” or “Good Boy/Girl” and only used as a reward for following your instructions. I call this your “Praise Phrase”
Correction lets your dog know that his or her behavior is unacceptable. While I prefer “Aht”, the word “No” is also acceptable and is given in a deeper, not necessarily louder, voice. Correction is used in several different ways:
– When your dog knows a command and deliberately chooses to disobey. We cannot correct the dog when they do not understand what it is that we want from them. The exception to this rule is the command “Quiet”.
– Correction is immediate when your dog shows aggression, destroys property or potties inappropriately. Puppies are known chewers and that includes fingers, hands and clothing. This is completely unacceptable and must be dealt with immediately. It cannot be ignored. One correction that works well with some puppies is to whimper loudly as their litter mates do when one of their siblings bites a little too hard.
Working on Down, eventually moving away from the dog.
We will cover these commands as well as any additional needs you may have:
- Leave it
A Typical Training Session
Upon my arrival we will greet one another and the dog, we will talk about how your in-home training has been going, any questions or issues you may have, etc. I will ask you to demonstrate any commands we had been working on previously and I will help you with any adjustments you may need.
We will then practice what we’ve been working on and possibly add another command.
Working on Fetch and, more importantly, Come
Between Training Sessions
You will need to work with your dog consistently. While there needs to be a lot of repetition and practice, it doesn’t have to be a big production. I work with my dogs throughout the day in small increments of time. Even dogs who know the commands love this as it is another way for them to connect with you! I am available between training sessions to answer questions and provide support.