Teaching your dog a new trick is an exciting moment for any pet parent. Not only is it a great way to strengthen your bond, but, along the way, your dog will inevitably learn some good manners. However, training your dog is not a continuous process, so it takes a lot of patience and repetition.
With this in mind, always keep treats close by to reward your dog for responding correctly to new commands, as picking the right treat is often the first step to effective training! If you choose the wrong reward, your dog can quickly lose interest in the training session and slowly start to lose focus - so it's a more significant decision than we may realise.
How to pick the right treat
Any dog owner will know that dogs feel joy over the smallest of things, so a reward could be anything from a new toy, to positive reinforcement, food, and much more. More often than not, giving your dog a treat is the best way to keep them interested and encouraged, so here are a few tips to help you pick the best treat for your dog:
Fast eating treats
Dogs have a very short attention span, so it's essential to pick treats that will pique your dog's interest. Training should range from ten to fifteen-minute sessions, and, within that period, you will be feeding your pup numerous times. With this in mind, it is crucial to pick a treat that you know your dog can wolf down quickly.
If you pick a treat that's hard to eat, it will take longer than necessary to move to the next repetition, and this will lead to either an increase in the number of training sessions, or fewer repetitions within each session.
Keep the treats small
Small treats are a great way to keep the training flowing and moving along without disruptions. If your dog's favourite treat is a large biscuit, for instance, break it up into smaller pieces before training. If you're expecting to do fifteen repetitions, break the biscuit into fifteen pieces to keep yourself accountable to the repetitions you've provisioned. Keeping the treats small is also a great way to ensure your pup isn't consuming too many calories.
Soft and smelly
Soft treats are fantastic for training, as they're easy to eat and often have a stronger, more enticing smell, and dogs tend to favour smellier treats. Especially if you’re training your dog in a loud place or distracting location, a smellier treat will keep your dog interested and focused.
Just like with humans, dogs can also get bored of the same thing. So, if you see your dog's motivation dwindling, why not change it up? Pick out three or four of your dog's favourite treats to reward them during the training session.
Keep treats at hand
We've already covered how training your dog is a full-time commitment. So, it's important to keep treats at hand for any unexpected training opportunities. That way, if you see your dog performing a command, you can immediately reward them for their commendable behaviour.
How to teach your dog to sit
Teaching your dog to sit is the first command in any dog training regime, as it will be the stepping stone to more complicated tricks. It's also an excellent command to help refocus your pup if you believe their attention is drifting. Let's look at two different techniques:
1: Wait for your dog to sit.
2: Once your dog is sitting, encourage them with the command "YES."
3: Reward them with a treat.
This technique is a great way to increase the association between the command and the action, as your dog will believe they initiated the process.
1: Hold a treat close to your dog's nose to get their attention.
2: Slowly start moving the treat up and behind your dog's head.
3: When your dog eventually sits, reassure them with the command "YES."
4: Reward them.
Each session should work off of a ten to fifteen-minute interval, or ten to fifteen repetitions. Make sure you're training your dog in a calm environment to help them stay focused.
How to teach your dog to lie down
Before attempting this command with your dog, they should first know how to sit down on command. If you'd like to make the training sessions more comfortable, you can purchase a mat for your pup to practice this command. Here are two different techniques you can try:
1: Once your dog is sitting down, hold the treat close to their nose so they can smell it.
2: Slowly tempt your dog to lower their body by moving the treat closer to the ground.
3: Each time you see them reach for the treat without laying down, remove the treat and start again. Only give them the treat when they are fully laying on the ground.
4: Once you see your dog is getting the hang of it, start saying the word "DOWN" as they lower themselves.
1: With both you and your dog sitting on the floor, hold a treat in your hand near the floor.
2: Once your dog has lowered themselves into a lying position, flip your hand open and allow them to take the treat.
3: Once you see your pup repeatedly obeying, start saying the word "DOWN" as they lower themselves.
And there you have it! These commands are a great starting point to your dog's training and will help the two of you to build up to more complicated tricks at a later stage. Training your pet is a crucial aspect of raising them, as it helps keep their behaviour under control and teaches them good manners along the way. And who knew teaching your dogs these basic commands could be this simple?