Updated: Feb 1, 2022
BEFORE you start training you need to be PREPARED. Find what motivates your dog. Every dog is motivated by something you just have to find it. It could be a favorite toy, praise, or food. When it comes to food it can be kibble, treats, or people food. I have had students be motivated by kibble, jerky, pepperoni, deli meat, cheese, bread, popcorn, the list goes on. The key is to find that one reward the dog is CRAZY about and to only use that reward for training. If the dog is somewhat motivated by the reward then you're going to get ehh results. The higher value reward you use the better results you will see. If you think the reward is over stimulating your dog then find another reward that the dog still loves but isn't over stimulated.
Secondly, you need to decide what equipment you are going to use. Decide if you want to use a harness, flat collar, prong collar, long leash, 6ft leash, halter, clicker, e-collar, treat bag, the list continues. We use a variety of tools. No dog learns the same way which means we have to know how to use a variety of training tools. We often use a 6ft leash, long leash, prong collar, clicker, flat collar, e-collar, and a treat bag.
Third, you need to plan what command(s) you want to teach your dog during the training session. Pick one or two commands to teach and stick with those commands for 1-3 days until the dog begins to master them. You do not want to teach a dog 4 commands in a day, it will only confuse the dog.
Fourth, keep your training sessions short. A good session is considered to be 15-20 minutes. Some dogs are stressed easily and may only need 5 minutes. Puppies have difficulties focusing and they may only need 5 or 10 minutes too. See how your dog is doing and go from there. If you feel yourself getting stressed stop the training session on a good note. You should always end a session a command the dog already knows, such as sit. You can certainly train your dog multiple times a day. The more you work with your dog the better and faster results you will see. Don't forget to incorporate the commands in your every day life too.
Lastly, you don't always have to use yummy treats to reward your dog. Some dogs are SUPER food motivated and will work for any kind of food including kibble. Other dogs have to have a yummy, high value treat to keep them interested and engaged which is totally fine. Whatever gets the job done. Instead of always feeding your dog from a bowl switch it up and begin hand feeding. Hand feeding kibble has its benefits. Yes, it can be messy and it does take longer, but it's worth it. I especially like hand feeding new client dogs and personal young puppies. Hand feeding creates a stronger bond, it's an easy way to teach manners around food, and it can be used to boost confidence. Hand feeding also adds focus, impulse control, slows down quick eaters (a slow feeder bowl works well too), and works for training bite inhibition. We also recommend hand feeding to those clients that have a dog who guards their food bowl. It's a 3 week process and week 1 is to begin by hand feeding all meals.
Willow is extremely food motivated and often gets overly excited with dog treats. Her lesser value reward is her kibble. She works great for the kibble and is more concentrated on me during her lessons.