Positive Techniques that Make Dog Training Fun for the Whole Family
I was 10 years old when I got my first dog, Bear. Bear was a pitbull and basset hound mix. That is definitely a funny combination! My great uncle from the very beginning told me how important it is to train a dog. I was always told if I wanted a loving, loyal, family, pet then I needed to put forth the work in making one. So that's what I did with Bear. I taught Bear how to sit, lay down, shake, and a little agility. Let me tell you, I thought I was awesome for teaching my dog those commands at that age. haha. He was the dog that made me love training dogs. I could do it for hours and found it fun! Ironically, I never knew I wanted to make a career of it until 10 years later.
Now that I have two daughters of my own, I wanted to incorporate our dogs' training with them. I feel it is very important for the dog to listen to ALL family members, big and small! My oldest, Addy, took a huge interest in dog training at two years old. Whether it was teaching obedience or working my K9 Athena, she was right there helping. Addy can tell our dogs to sit, lay down, stay, and even take them on a walk by herself! Of course she has to have a ball or treats for them to listen, but that is progress! Hopefully, after this you will incorporate your kids in training at home! Now lets talk about positive training.
The easiest way to get your dog to perform the behavior you're asking for is to find his "currency." Every dog has something that they will work for harder than anything else. For most dogs, this will be food. It may be delicious treats from the grocery store, cut up chicken, hot dogs, ect. Other times your dog may absolutely love one toy that he would do anything for. It may take some trial and error, but there is something that your dog loves more than anything. (other than you of course)
When you are training your dog you will be using something visible, such as a treat. You treat your dog every time he does something you want him to do. That treat or toy reward is very encouraging, but a verbal phrase is just as valuable. Instead of just handing your dog a treat, try to mark the desired behavior with a "yes," "good girl," "good boy," ect. Also, put some animation in your voice as well! Your dog will love it and get super excited what he has done! That will for sure make training fun for both of you.
Don't Push to Failure
We all have a goal in mind before we start training. Once we get in the moment and your dog starts messing up, STOP TRAINING. Continuing will lead to frustration, which you're likely to take out on the dog. If you take out frustration on the dog, he may become scared during training and have little to no motivation. The dog may also become scared of you. Creating a loss for both of you and ruining your bond. You must always end training on a positive note by asking him to do something he already knows. Then give lots of praise! If all fails, try again tomorrow!
Last but not least, Have Fun
For some reason, it never occurred to some trainers that training should be fun. No yelling, hitting, pain, or fear should ever be needed to train a dog. Whether you are training a police dog or a family companion, no pain should ever be used.