How to get attentive, enthusiastic responses from your pup in training exercises and everyday life:

  • Build your relationship with your puppy through fun, structured play, and training sessions.  If you and your pup enjoy learning and exploring new things together every day, you will see amazing results in your training.
  • Exercise, mental stimulation, and socialization are keys to raising a happy, well-behaved puppy.  Regular play and new experiences should be a part of every pup’s routine.  Under-stimulated dogs get into a lot more trouble and can’t seem to relax.
  • Practice training once or twice a day for 5-15 minutes each session.  Make this your average.  If you prefer more, go for it!  Integrating training exercises into your everyday activities will make a big difference (see #5 below for examples of this).
  • Practice in different environments.  Start with success in a non-distracting place (e.g., a quiet bedroom) and gradually work your way up to more challenging situations (e.g., the park).  
  • Vary your rewards.  Dogs get bored just like we do.  Use a variety of toys, touch, praise, food and real-life rewards.  For example, request that your pup Sit before you: play a game with a toy, open a door for her, invite her into your lap for petting, deliver a meal, give her attention when you come home, or let her out of the crate/pen.
  • Be consistent with your cues and rules.  Request behaviors with the exact same verbal cue or hand signal every time.  Also, don’t allow a behavior sometimes and then get upset with your puppy for doing it at other times (e.g., jumping or begging at the table).
  • Manage your puppy’s environment to set him up for success and don’t give him opportunities to get into trouble.  Then you will catch him doing good things you can reward him for.
  • Timing is everything.  Let your pup know if you like or dislike a behavior WHILE it is happening.  Two seconds after is too late.
  • If you “correct” your pup, then redirect your pup.  If you interrupt or distract your puppy from something she is doing wrong, give her something else to do that is right (and make the right behavior more fun!).
  • Master “green light” and “red light” communication.  Always communicate clearly with your voice, body language, and facial expression whether you are sending the fundamental message of “yes” or “no” to your pup.   For example, an effective “Come” command should be an inviting signal with a “green light/yes” tone (happy, bright, high-pitched) whereas “Stop That” would be more effective as a stern signal with a “red light/no” tone (deeper pitched, perhaps louder or more abrupt depending on dog).  How your communication is interpreted depends on the personality of the dog.  Talk to your trainer about how to get the most out of your relationship with YOUR dog.

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