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Get a Leg Up on Training Your Pup

Drs. Foster & Smith Educational Staff
Click here for a pdf version of this article.

Everybody wants to have a well-behaved, well-mannered pet, but for many people, training is a long, frustrating journey. We're here to help make it more pleasant for both you and your dog. But before even thinking about putting the leash on your dog, there are three things to consider.

Determine what motivator works best for your dog

Treats are usually the easiest to work with, and most people are able to find treats that even finicky eaters love. When picking training treats, don't settle. Find a high-value treat, something that really makes her drool! Praise is also a good motivator for many dogs, and used generously with treats, will make most dogs very happy and willing to work. Favorite toys can come in handy too, especially in distracting environments.

Combine a rewarding motivator with a verbal cue

Before you start training the behaviors themselves, teach your dog to associate a word (cue) with receiving a reward (treat). Once learned, when unable to reward instantly, use your reward cue and your dog will know her reward is coming even if she has to wait a moment to get it.

Decide on your cue

It can be anything, but it should be a short, sharp word such as "Yes!" or "Good!" Now, with a handful of high-value treats and with your dog nearby, say her reward cue and pop a treat in her mouth. It's that easy! Repeat five or six times so she understands the concept. Do this several times throughout the day for several days, and your dog will know that if you say "Good," a treat is coming her way.

Your dog's understanding of this cue puts you in a very good place to start teaching proper behavior, but remember to decide on a cue, then use it exclusively.

Many different training methods can help turn your dog from a rambunctious, unmannered pet to the picture-perfect canine good citizen. Part of your job as a good pet parent is to find the best approach for you and your dog.

About Kathy Springhorn:
She is a veterinary technician and has over 25 years of training experience, including competitive obedience, all phases of Schutzhund, and her favorite: helping pet parents with obedience training.

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