Once you have taken that step the real work begins. Many people make the mistake of thinking that once they consult with a trainer, their dogs will be trained. The truth is that a training is something that you do yourself and it is ongoing for the life of your dog.
Today I offer a few ABC’s to get you and your dog off on the right foot (or paw as the case may be).
Your dog is a product of his or her past. If you have a rescue dog, you probably have already figured out that, in many cases, you will have to undo at least some of the behaviors your dog has picked up.
Take things slowly, celebrate small victories and understand that your dog is depending on you to keep him/her safe. Know your dog, be a leader and recognize that your dog cannot progress without your help.
Yes, training can be a lot of work but you will find there is nothing better than the unconditional love you receive from a grateful, happy, well-balanced dog. The time you spend with your dog will bring you closer and the bond you develop will be worth all the time and effort you put in.
Pay attention to what your dog is telling you. If your dog is uncomfortable, don’t push it. Know when your dog has had enough and try again another time. You will have good days and bad days. Expect it and don’t be discouraged. All good things take time.
Dedicate a few minutes each day for training. Review what has already been learned and gradually introduce new tasks. Training sessions do not need to be any longer than ten or fifteen minutes at a time, although of course they can be longer if you have the time and your dog is up for it. The important thing is to work on training faithfully every day. Keep it fun. Your dog will look forward to it and, over time, you will experience great rewards.
Decide what behaviors you want and expect from your dog and reinforce them consistently. Be firm or your dog will only become confused. Remember dogs want to please and once they know what is expected they will be happier and so will you.
Keep your expectations reasonable, enjoy the time you spend with your dog and don’t give up. You are well on your way.