Much like people, pups can have goals as well. Well, I guess lazing around on your pillow might be amongst them, but we’re talking about the goal of good behavior. When you’re teaching your pup the proper way to act in your home, or just working on a few basic tricks to impress your friends, we have to spend time with our four-legged friends and set some goals for them achieve.
Contrary to what you might think, the shorter the training period, the more your pup will usually absorb. Because pups often have short attention spans and quite frankly would rather have fun, long training sessions can actually be counterproductive to learning. A short time period of about five minutes should be the longest you will want to continuously work on a single subject. During that time, start with your command and continue to reinforce it. Your pup may be confused at first, and a little guidance may be needed (holding your pup in place for “stay,” or laying them down to put them into the lay position). Although the time period seems short, it isn’t limited to once a day. Work with your pup at different times of the day, and give constant reminders by always utilizing your commands. While the lesson may be short, learning is done throughout their experiences during the day.
Set small goals for you and your pup, and don’t try to achieve everything in one day. There’s a lot to learn, and if you burn them out and make learning a boring part of the day, they may not even want to listen to you. They’ll just look at you and bark, “Well, you’re no fun at all.” If you’re going to keep your pup’s attention, you need to set small learning goals during which they learn a little at a time. These goals gradually work up to the ultimate goal of good behavior.
These goals need to be steady and habitual. Set certain times each day during which you and your pup will spend time learning good behavior. Teaching a pup good behavior is like teaching them a habit. They may learn to sit today, but if you don’t continuously enforce that skill each day, they won’t make a habit of learning that’s what their supposed to do.
If you have trouble with organizing your day, or keeping track of when puppy school starts, go ahead and make a schedule. Whether it’s added into your daily planner, or you may even put your smart phone to use and set a few alarms to remind you. It’ll help you maintain the goal of working with your pup, and your pup will be able to make a habit of getting a good education.
Treat with fun
When teaching your pup, entertainment is a must. If they don’t enjoy the experience, they won’t want to do it. Make learning a treat in itself. The situation is positive for your pup, and they’ll actually want to learn good behaviors. One way to teach a pup to “stay” is to incorporate their playtime into the mix. While you’re playing a good game of tug-o-war, use your “stay” command during the game and stop playing. They may want to continue, but you just ignore them and continue to use the command until they settle down. Then use your “release” command and begin playing again. It will take time to solidify the knowledge, but it’s a process that you have to continuously work on. And the best part is that it’s fun for your pup. The learning itself becomes a game rather than school.
Making the experience fun means that you want to refrain from doing anything that would upset them during this process. Rather than scold or yell, ignore them until they are successful. If you start shouting, they may get confused or become irritated with you. When the student isn’t enjoying the class, they won’t pay attention. When you don’t pay attention, you won’t learn a thing.
Setting goals for both you and your pup keeps your pup learning at a steady pace. Rather than dump all of that puppy knowledge on your dog in a few short hours, you set a good learning pace to ensure a fun learning environment. Properly training your pup takes time. Spend a little time with them each day, and eventually you’ll find that your pup was a clever rascal after all.