Preparation for learning during dog obedience training
There are many things that will impact whether your dog is prepared, willing and able to learn during dog obedience training. This is particularly important with puppies and adolescent dogs. Ensure that you set your dog up for success by committing to the following:
Low stress environment
Your dog should never be asked to train/learn in an environment where they are stressed. When the brain releases stress hormones it inhibits the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain responsible for thinking and learning. It is also important that you do not get stressed, frustrated or angry with your dog during dog obedience training as this will also create a stress response and dogs can smell these emotions on us, even if our body language is not exhibiting any signs.
Feed your dog a good quality diet
If you use dried food then make sure it is as natural as possible and a good quality. If you feed your dog BARF make sure you have the right balance of ingredients. You should avoid feeding or at least give your dog a lighter meal on the days that you will be doing dog obedience training.
Give them the physical exercise they need
Particularly when going through adolescence as they have more energy to burn. Give your dog daily exercise. This should include new environments that are outside your yard and an opportunity to raise their heart rate. Try to avoid street walking as you have less control over off-leash dogs approaching or dogs barking behind fences, potentially giving your dog a negative experience that could lead to reactivity. Be mindful that depending on the age of your dog they should not exercise in one large session. It’s better to break it up into multiple sessions throughout the day. Ask your vet for specific age and breed specific advice on how long your dog should exercise for in one session.
Don’t feed your dog out of a bowl
Make them work for their food e.g. practicing their manners, scattered in the backyard, in a treat, dispensing toy or frozen in a toy.
Make sure they get enough sleep
Dogs and puppies misbehave when they get overtired. Crate train your dog so you can teach them to relax and/or have regular naps. Depending on the age of your puppy, they should be awake for no more than an hour at a time and then be put for a minimum of 30-minute nap.
Reinforce your dog for checking in, looking at you or giving you their attention.
After you have reinforced your marker e.g. clicker and/or word yes, mark and reward your dog every time they look at you. This is particularly important when starting a training session or out on a walk. This will help to teach your dog that they should look to you for guidance.
At Fur Get Me Not we use a model of Canine Coaching rather than dog obedience training. Read about our method of training here.