Training is essential for all dogs and it can feel overwhelming with so many different elements of training that we would like them to learn.
Although general obedience skills are fantastic what are the important aspects to think about with our dogs?
My top priorities for my own dogs are:
Being comfortable when they are out training. This may not seem important but if a dog is able to be relaxed in the environment they are in with you they are much more likely to be able to focus when you say your cues rather than be too excited or overly anxious in their surroundings.
Reliable recall. This is essential as not only is it a legal requirement, but it allows your dog to have more freedom when out and about. Recall can take time to build to be consistent so may need management such as a long line to begin with or working in a secure place. Until you are 120% sure that your dog will return to you every time you call them no matter what is going on around them.
Walking on a loose lead. As no one likes their arms pulled out of their sockets! Pulling can make a walk so much less enjoyable with a dog and puts strain on the dog's body too when they go out. By teaching the dog to walk with you it will also mean that you may be able to explore more urban areas.
Learning to settle. Teaching a switch off cue is a great skill to teach your dog especially if you want to take your dog to cafes, pubs or even just teaching them to settle when people come to your home. Teaching a dog to relax has many benefits to it!
These four cues will give you and your dog a good foundation set of skills once the dog can reliably perform these behaviours then you can build and advance your training skills.
Focusing on four key elements will keep everything simple, and it will be easier to achieve your goals and see your dog’s progress. The easier training together with your dog is the more likely it is you will practice those skills together, creating a stronger bond and relationship together with your dog.
When structuring training for your four key skills, plan them by taking it in small easy to achieve steps. A great way to achieve this is to keep a training diary which can help keep track of where you are with your dog and what you are working on next. These are also great to help keep all members of the family consistent with your dog too. As the biggest key to training is consistency!
You do not have to spend hours a day training your dog. By breaking it down into small chunks of time even doing a little stay whilst boiling the kettle will help build strong foundations to your dog’s training skills.
Most of all, enjoy your time training with your dog! If you get stuck please do not hesitate to ask any questions.