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Training your dog can be a fun activity that can strength the relationship you have with your dog if it is done is a positive manner. Here are just a few basic pointers.

You want to start in a good mood. Dogs are very conscious of body language, so you don’t want to convey impatience or anger when training. This should be fun for both of you.

When teaching a new command, you should have a lure that your dog REALLY likes. It could be his favorite toy, or a delicious treat he just can’t resist..  Using the lure allows you to show the dog what you want, rather than using a leash to push or pull him into the desired position.  For most dogs a treat is the greatest incentive, but you know your dog best.  Mine is definitely food motivated. Liver/cheese training treats that I make are perfect.

Once your dog has started to respond to a command, you should be able to stop using the lure, and use verbal and hand signals. Hand signals should always be used with verbal commands. One, dogs are very observant of our body language and will learn these silent commands, and they are great to know if you are in a place where you want to quietly instruct your dog to do something, and if your dog becomes hard of hearing when he is older he will still respond to your signals. Just be sure to use the same signal each time you give a verbal command.  Start with bigger hand signals, and with time you can use more subtle hand movements. This bilingual training will “just happen”…

Training sessions should be limited to one or two commands. Start with a command your dog knows, and then add the new one. Always end the session with a command your dog can do well, so you end on a positive. Try to keep the sessions short-it is best to keep sessions to no more than 10 minutes for a puppy and 15 or 20 minutes for an adult. It can be difficult to set up regular training throughout the day, so doing short sessions i.e. during a commercial break, when you are feeding your dog, etc are great opportunities.

If your dog is having problems learning a task, break it down into steps. For instance, if you are having trouble getting your do to lower himself into the down position, use your lure to have him lower his head, then use the lure to get him to lower his shoulders and body until he is in the down position.

When training more complex behaviors that require multiple steps, teach the last part of the behavior, and then work backwards towards the initial steps.

Generally you only want to move to another commands when your dog can respond without hesitation. Always be patient, as dogs are all different, and different breeds have genetic tendencies that can affect the way they respond to you and their surrounds….try to get a Beagle to look at you when he is on a scent.  There are also different tasks that are more comfortable for your animals. For instance we have two Chihuahuas at our house.  Bessie, the more submissive, throws herself down on the ground for “down”. The more dominant dogs, Dahlia…..we’ll, let’s just say she is far more reluctant to do “down”, but she is great with the less submissive behavior “sit”.