Get The Most Out Of Your Training
When people first go to a trainer it is usually because they want to stop their dog from doing
something. Others begin training when they get a puppy or new dog and are looking to start out on the right foot.
Whichever way you begin I have a few goals in mind when we start training:
Solve Problems or Prevent Problems Before They Start
Meet the Dog’s Needs
Safety for Humans and Dogs
Better the Relationship
Learn to Communicate With Each Other
What are your goals when you start training? Here are a few ideas to help make sure you get the most out of the training sessions.
Start With A Goal.
It’s OK to have 50 goals just be sure to prioritize them. It will be better to focus your efforts on one or two goals rather than a hodgepodge of everything at once. Many new dog owners are overwhelmed and excited at the endless possibilities of training. They want to put their dog in kindergarten and enroll them in college at the same time.
Trying to fit more in to a short amount of time will probably just exhaust you and frustrate your dog, it doesn’t mean your dog will learn more.
Some goals will need to come before another and some goals might need to sit on a back burner for the time being.
The more goals, the more lessons and practice will be required. Think about each skill as its own class, these become building blocks to one another.
Training is not something you do just in the session or class. Try creating a schedule that works for you.
Continue practicing the basics that you did in puppy class. Practice these basic skills in new locations and in new ways. Become fluent in each and every element of the training.
As Ken Ramirez once said, “Advanced training is just the basics done really well.” You cannot skim over the basics to get to advanced training. The basics are your advanced skills.
Record your training sessions.
Film your training sessions on your phone and watch it back. It will be easy to spot things you dislike but try to first pick out at least one thing that you like. . An easy way to store your videos is to upload them to YouTube. Save your videos as Private (no one else can watch them) or Unlisted (other people can watch but only if you send them the link) or Public (anyone can watch them).
Reviewing your training sessions will offer great insight and help you catch things you missed in the moment. Be kind to yourself and your dog while watching these. The goal is not to find all the bad stuff but to find ways you can make it better next session.
It is fun to watch videos from weeks, months or years earlier. You will see just how far you and your dog have come.
Journal your training.
Journal in a way that works for you, on paper, in a colorful diary, a calendar or on a Google Doc. It doesn’t matter how you track your training, just that you do. Journaling your training sessions can help you reflect back, remember how it felt and work out what you want to fix the next time you practice. Try noting things you liked as well as things to fix. Data collection can be simple or as complicated as you want.
The question I get asked all the time is, “When will my dog be fully trained?” My answer is, “it depends on your goal.”
Training is a journey, typically without an end date. Even once the initial learning is over we still have to practice and reinforce the behaviors.
Are you fully trained? Are your kids? This might really depend on environment or work. The world’s best oil painter that has studied with the finest artists might be lost if you ask them to knit a sweater. Their training might not have prepared them for this. A dog that trains well in a home with a quiet couple might be lost if brought to a home with a dozen kids running around. Can we be fully trained for all scenarios? No, but I don’t know that we need to be either
Be willing to change your environment.
You may have a favorite park or trail that you want to walk but each time you go there your dog struggles with training. That trail might not be suitable for your dog or your training goals right now. Adapt and change for your teaching and your dog. Your goal might be to walk on the trail but for now you might need to practice in a quiet field. Your environmental choices can help or harm the training.
Advocate for Yourself and your dog:
Learning styles and needs vary. If you need something in particular just ask! For example in virtual sessions we can turn on closed captioning or record the sessions. Some people like to pause and take notes while others wish to record. Reviews and repetition are really helpful in learning. Find what works best for you and your dog.
Ready to train? Be in touch.