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Dog Training 101: General Tips for Successful Dog Training

Get the most out of your dog training sessions.

There are some things to keep in mind when you are training your dog. The first one is that dog training is never "finished." It is a process that you will continue throughout your dog's life. Training needs reinforcement all the time in order for your dog to continue doing what he's learned. Below are a few other basic tips for dog training.

Set Aside Time for Daily Training Sessions

It's good to do training in a controlled environment as much as possible. That means that the best dog training isn't done while you're in the middle of a walk outside but rather at home or in the backyard or a field where you will be safe and not bothered.

When you are trying to teach your dog something new, daily training sessions are necessary. When your dog is older and you are reinforcing previous lessons, once a week is fine.

Keep Training Sessions Short

Don't plan on marathon training sessions where you spend hours working on a trick until your dog has thoroughly learned it. Dogs learn much better when you break training times up into short, 10 or 20-minute sessions and follow them with rest or play time. Always end each session when your dog has been successful, even if it's only a small step in the direction of what you're trying to train him to do.

Try Training When Your Dog Is Hungry

If your dog is hungry when you do a training session, he will be more interested in whatever treats you're using for positive reinforcement. If he's just had a big meal, the treats might not be as motivating.

Train After a Play Session

Before you start a training session, have a good, tiring play session with your dog. If you have just gotten home from work, your dog has been in a crate for a few hours, and you get him out and try to train him right away, odds are that you'll both be frustrated.

Get some of your dog's energy out with a vigorous play session, which will also improve the bond between the two of you, and then start a short training session after that.

Consider Clicker Training

Clicker training is a powerful way to teach your dog what he should and shouldn't be doing. It works by associating the clicker noise with right behavior in the dog's mind. You can click much more quickly than you can give a treat, so it helps you "tell" the dog at exactly the right second that what he's done is right. You can follow it with a treat, and eventually the click itself will be enough positive reinforcement for your dog. You can learn more about this here: "Clicker Training for Dogs," and you can find clickers here: "Clickers."

Always Focus on Positive Reinforcement

Negative reinforcement doesn't train dogs to follow commands nearly as well as positive reinforcement does. Rather than correcting your dog for doing something you don't want him to do, focus on showing him what you do want and praising him when he does it. That usually means breaking a task or trick up into tiny increments and teaching them to your dog slowly. As he is successful at each one and receives your positive reaction, he'll want to continue to do well and learn more. If he's not getting a certain thing, back up to the previous step and work at it until he's got it down thoroughly.

Always be patient. If you find yourself growing irritated, end the training session immediately.

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