Teach, Train, and Proof

Training your pet begins with basic communications. A single word command should be taught with minimal physical coaxing to achieve the objective. Repeat and practice the exercise. Use verbal tones to reinforce correct response. Once performed by your pet, reward should be given. Reward can range from verbal praise to food treats. Play activities such as pitch and retrieve work great as a reward, so keep your pets attention by carrying their favorite toys in your pocket. Stay calm, patient, but assertive, speak at normal volumes, and keep your training exercise simple and short in duration. Once you feel your pet understands the command but is slow to respond, a minimal amount of compulsion can be administered. This is reinforcement for the command to motivate a quick response. This is the training segment and works best if the teaching segment was effectively performed. With dogs, a collar and leash are very effective. A tap on your dogs collar by pulling suddenly with the leash serves as a reminder to perform the command. This leash and collar can also provide guidance for your pet when the exercise of heeling begins. Tap on the leash, do not pull or drag. Always end each session with your pet with an exercise they can perform easily. Release and play is the time for bonding and fun. Take it up a notch with excitement and animation. This is so important for your pet. This is what drives their interest in human interaction and makes them eager for the next session. Keep each session simple with one goal in mind, practice over and over again until your pet performs satisfactory. Next session should be different such as, first teach sit, then sit/stay, then heel, then down, then down stay, etc… Try not to confuse your pet. Training is like building a brick house, one brick at a time. Each session is a brick, avoid teaching several things at once, concentrate on simple goals and reward for correct response, then play hard. Once you have achieved several commands with consistent correct response, now it is time to proof. Bring your pet to a park, friends house, pet friendly store, and practice what you have taught and trained your pet to do. Remember that your training was achieved at a calm state, so use patience and creativity to reproduce the calm state. You should also incorporate socialization. Invite people to meet and interact with your pet. Allow other calm pets to do the same. Avoid hyperactive pets, excessively shy pets, and most important aggressive or dominating pets. If your pet becomes overly excited, practice the sit/stay until a calm state is achieved and reward this state of mind. You are the alpha, one in charge, not your pet, sympathy is not useful to a leader and not understood by your pet. Stay firm and assertive and reward only correct behavior and response. Practice, practice, practice, each time you expose your pet to something new, the confidence and performance of your pet improves. Your confidence improves and so will your bond of trust with your pet. Remember that you get what you put in, but there comes a time when the rewards of communicating with your pet grows exponentially.