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Distraction-free environment best for training

Distraction-free environment best for training

bowers chTo help your dog focus, teach new skills in an area that is free of distractions.

Increase the difficulty of the training exercise by increasing criteria in one area at a time.

For example, if we are introducing increasing the distance from the trainer at which the dog will sit on cue, avoid increasing the distractions or duration at the same time.

Use rewards in training. Police and military dogs in the Netherlands are being trained with the trainers rewarding desired behaviors, and by teaching the dogs in small steps that build on one another. They report that they have cut their training time down to one-eighth of the time it originally took and they have found that dogs trained this way handle new situations confidently as they are not afraid to try things (Prins, Haak, & Gerritsen, 2013).

P 7 A pet dog longline

A longline can be used in training a dog. Photo submitted

Incorporate play into training sessions. Play is often used as a reward in the training of working dogs. We know that social interactions with familiar humans are highly rewarding for many dogs and that dogs whose owners play with them have been found to score higher in obedience tests than those whose owners do not play with them (Bradshaw, Pullen, & Rooney, 2015).

Manage the environment the dog is in so that you can prevent the dog from practicing behaviors you may be trying to change. This might mean you use a longline to prevent the dog from running off when you are teaching the dog to reliably come when called.

If you can’t train everyday, don’t worry.  Once or two short training sessions a week can result in a well-trained dog. In fact, a study on beagles revealed that weekly training resulted in better learning performance than training five times a week, when performance is measured in the number of training sessions required to reach a certain training level (Meyer & Ladewig, 2008).

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