5 Tips to Perfect Training Technique

Training is like learning a sport

Can you play your favorite sport by just watching your favorite superstar on TV?

Dog training is just like learning a new sport. The skills, timing, and technique can only be learned with practice and a coach to help with your technique.

soccer-ball

Does it seem like your dog knows what you are saying?

Dogs are masters at learning body language. They are always watching us for clues to what we are doing or what we want.  They probably have no idea what we are saying with our voice, but they sure do know what we are saying with our body! This is why proper technique is essential when teaching your dog something new.  Extra body movements can be confusing to a dog, often they just give up trying to pay attention to you and become frustrated.

There are 5 Techniques

1. Hands in Neutral Position

abs

Keep both of your hands at your waist.  Only move them if you are delivering a treat or giving a hand signal.

2. Bend your knees

backwardknee

This gives the dog a visual at their eye level that a food reward is coming right now! Bend your knees enough so your extended hand will be at your dogs mouth without bending over.  Which brings us to…

3. Back Straight

squat

Keep your back as straight up and down as you can.  Imagine you have a wire coming out of the top of your head.  Like a puppet, you are suspended by this wire from the ceiling. As you bend your knees into a squat, your back will remain upright.  This prevents us getting into the dog’s space. This can be confusing to many dogs, “Does the person want me to lick his face, play, or backup?”  For some dogs, leaning over them can even be threatening.

bend

Have a dog that ignores you unless you have a treat? Read #4

4. Click, Pause, Straighten

Your treat hand is loaded with treats and kept frozen in neutral position. As soon as your dog does the behavior you want, you click, pause, then straighten your arm directly to his mouth and give him the treat.  Be sure there is a pause between the click and the movement of your arm.

 If you move your treat hand towards your treat pouch or toward your dog’s mouth at the same time or before you click, he will learn to only do something if he thinks he is getting a reward.  This will train your dog to watch your hand after you say a command to see if you are going for a reward or not.  If your hand only moves when you are going to reward him, he will learn to ignore you when your hand does not move.

So, keep your hand still until after the click.

5. BAM!

Straighten your arm with a flash to your dog’s mouth.  Your hand should be a blur.  If you move too slow, you dog may begin jumping up to meet the treat half way.  Yes, they can get bored that quickly!  Keep your hand at your dogs mouth until he has the treat in his mouth. Then, return your hand back to neutral position.

bam

Do your best to mimic the correct technique.  Video tape yourself and practice over and over again until you have it right.  A good dog trainer can coach you through the process and help with your technique.

Happy Training.

Reference: Dr. Sophia Yin DVM http://drsophiayin.com/blog/entry/dog-training-is-a-technical-skill-treat-delivery-speed
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3 Responses to “5 Tips to Perfect Training Technique”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    My only question is how do I keep my back straight when I am training a very small dog? Without bending over, i would be doing deep knee bends all through my training session (not easy for a senior citizen).

    • Great question. You do your best to not bend directly over the dog. It’s ok if you must bend some, just keep your upper body and face out of the dog’s space. You may also create a treat dispensing tool using a PVC pipe with a spoon attached to the end.

    • Great question. You do your best to not hover over the dog. So as you might not be able to be completely straight, you try your best by bending your knees and keeping your back as upright as possible.

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