After a long winter of snuggling up indoors, missing more than our fair share of hikes and maybe getting a little lax on the rules, it’s natural for our dogs to get a little fuzzy about parts of their training. Now that the sun is teasing us with the promise of spring, we’re ready to get back in training shape. Whether you’re doing some brush up training at home or you will be joining us for Brush Up Training, here are a few things to be aware of as you and your dog get back into ship-shape!
How Dogs Learn: The Quick Rundown
We won’t bore you with the science of it, but basically dogs learn and remember language much like we learn and remember a foreign language: it takes practice, patience and immersion. There are methods to reverse bad habits and revamp his training skills.
Dogs can sometimes learn a specific version of a behavior instead of the general behavior you had intended. This happens because dogs don’t have a sense of past or future. While they seem to have a memory like humans, they actually don’t have a sense of time! Instead, they recognize patterns that become rhythms in their internal clock. You’ve probably experienced this when your dog has learned an obey-and-reward pattern. If you only tell him to sit before every meal, and no other time, then he will always expect a meal after obeying “sit.” Avoid pattern training by expanding your dog’s understanding of these commands.
Trainer’s Tip: Practicing commands at different times of day will also help prevent routine patterns. Training with treats doesn’t fall under this category. Talk to your trainer about how to properly praise your dog.
Check out this video of Malaika and Seth talking about getting ready for spring!
So Many Smells! When you take your dog out of the classroom, the rules can be forgotten in the chaotic, exciting world outside. It’s important to teach lessons in unfamiliar environments so your dog gets used to following commands amidst all the wonderful smells and sights.
Trainer’s Tip: Practice in the park when it’s less busy so they can start to get acclimated to these environments. (DGA teaches many of the group classes outdoors and occasionally in other public areas, learn more here!)
Productive Playtime. Studies show that playing with your dog after training actually improves their ability to recall the commands. What a great reason to play!
It Seems Familiar, But … As much as we wish the “close enough” method worked when it comes to gestures and tone, it just doesn’t cut it when you’re trying to teach a new command. Proper command communication takes practice and teamwork, but will help your dog better understand what is being asked from him. Remember, consistency is key, always!
Trainer’s Tip: For more tips on command words, check out one of our recent blogs here.
Time to Brush Up! If you’ve experienced Dog Gone Amazing classes, you know our knowledgable, big-hearted staff is always ready to teach a trained dog new tricks. Sign up for our Brush Up Classes today to help your dog stay sharp on important lessons. Our review training for dogs is a unique opportunity to get to the bottom of problem areas and brush up on the big stuff.