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Six ways to keep up the momentum when training your adult dog
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Six ways to keep up the momentum when training your adult dog

Dogs
Education & Training

Many people think of dog training as a bit of a “set and forget” thing, and that when your dog has got to grips with a few basic cues, you’re all done.

However, many owners continue to train their dogs to teach the new skills and refresh old ones right into their dog’s old age.

Ongoing training has many benefits for both dog and owner, but it can be hard to keep up the momentum. This article will share six ways to keep both of you engaged. Read on to learn more.

Make it fun

If you don’t enjoy training your dog and don’t have fun doing it, you’re not going to look forward to the sessions and might even come to dread them, a bit like those days when you commit to checking and clearing up poop from the garden that you’ve neglected during the work week!

Additionally, if you’re not having fun and enjoying yourself, it is harder to engage; having fun actually helps concentration, for both you and your dog. 

There are plenty of ways to make training fun and ensure that you and your dog have a good time.

Try new things to make it interesting

Training a dog either for the first time, for new or higher-level skills, or to refresh things they are getting a little lax on, requires a certain degree of repetition. Practice makes perfect applies as much to dogs as it does to us. 

However, training that simply involves repeating the same commands every time, going through the same routines, and not progressing or teaching anything new (whether that be a new skill or a new response) can be very boring.

Training is a process, and taking it out ‘on the road’, practising in different locations with different distractions will all help build more reliable responses.

Also, try teaching your dog new skills or tricks. It will help you explore what your dog is capable of.

Be prepared to take training at your dog’s pace

One of the hardest things when it comes to training a dog is knowing when to stop a session or identify when a particular approach isn’t working, or maybe you’re simply asking your dog for too much.

Some skills will take a long time to teach and polish, and need regular work. Teaching your dog to reliably come back when called, for example. While some dogs may never achieve a totally  reliable recall, practising over time can certainly improve this.

Training as a social activity

For many people and dogs, taking part in group training activities can really help make it fun and engaging. This might simply be group training for basic skills where the assistance of a trainer and others also act as distractions while you build your dog’s focus, can help you keep up the momentum. 

These days there are also plenty of group activities to enjoy with your dog. This could be a canine sport such as agility or flyball or maybe try scentwork for which there are a growing number of classes.

Know how to benchmark progress so the reward of improvement serves as an incentive

Some lessons are harder to teach than others, and this means that you have to accept you’ll spend a long time over multiple short sessions working on the same things (albeit maybe in different ways) which if you’re not careful, can soon lead to boredom for both of you.

Do persevere and monitor how you’re doing so you can be clear whether your dog is progressing or not. 

Being able to identify and measure progress serves as an incentive to keep going.

Set goals that help you to improve too

Finally, training a dog is in a way a hobby, and there’s no reason why you can’t set yourself goals as part of the process too. For instance, some types of training can be quite energetic and may be  helping you develop your own fitness. For some, even just the need to go for regular walks may be more exercise than they were doing before getting a dog!

Look at ways you can work in improvement for yourself as well as your dog, so that you both get the maximum possible out of your sessions.

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