Is your dog excited to work with you? An important training tool that should never be forgotten is to have fun with your dog. Training doesn’t have to be work!
When work is hard and there’s little reward, it’s harder to be motivated to do more next time. This applies to dog as much as it does to people! No one wants to do a job that they don’t enjoy or feel rewarded for. Giving your dog a high reward rate for learning and keeping the training session short and fun will give you the best result. Keep in mind that rewards don’t always mean treats. Some dogs aren’t food motivated, so what else can you do to entice them?
Play!! If your dog performs a task, throw a ball for them or play a quick game of tug.
Sometimes all they need is attention. Cheering and giving them a puppy party for a successful task can be reward itself. Dogs read body language – it’s how they communicate. They will know that when you frown, you are not happy. This also means that when you are smiling or laughing, that you are having fun, and they want in on that! It’s ok when mistakes happen. If you start to show signs of stress or frustration, your dog will pick up on that. If one or both of you don’t seem to be having fun anymore, the time to end the training exercise has actually already past. End the training when your dog seems to be having the MOST fun so that they’ll be ready to learn even faster for the next session. Pushing too hard at a time can have a negative affect, so it’s always best to end on a high note.
Find what motivates your dog and use that for training, whatever that looks like. Sometimes it’s entertaining to just switch it up, too. Small progress is more progress than you may think, and that small, successful step you took today will mean more progress for the next day.
Keep trying, keep learning, keep moving forward at whatever pace you feel comfortable at. Above all, though, have fun doing it.