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Getting Started


  • What should you train first?

  • How long can you train a dog for?


These are the two main questions that people have.


For the first question some may focus on one thing and build from there.


How long to train a dog for is also a topic for debate. You will often hear people say a dog is only capable of training for 5-10 minutes and you should stop, keep sessions short. Often times that may be true but we have found a different way to approach training so the dog learns faster.


Let’s say you have set a goal to train your dog to Lay Down. Now let’s say you keep training and your dog gets better and better and all of a sudden understands how to Lay Down. What if that took you 2 hours of continuous training to teach? We don’t see any point in stopping at 5-10 minutes if the dog continues to get better, is focused and you have the time to continue training.


What happens if your dog does get tired at 10 minutes into training? Should you stop training then? We don’t, we just train something different. If the dog is getting more hyper we will train something that requires more energy like fetch, recall, etc. If they are getting more tired we will train lower energy exercises like Stay, Greeting Guests Calmly, etc.


You can technically train a dog 24 hours a day. If your dog is passed out comatose tired from training, that is an excellent time to go for car rides to teach your dog to be quiet in the car or play back strange noises to help desensitize your dog or do other distraction training.


Distractions


A big problem people have when training a dog is Distractions. We find the longer you train a dog in a given session, they often do better and better with that distraction. They have less energy to care about the distraction and may realize the distraction is not going to interact with them.


Example: If a dog is super excited about people we will exercise the dog first and then go practice, depending on Energy Level:


Often times it is Loose Leash Walking we practice in a parking lot. We may spend 2 hours training there (with an adult dog,  puppies will tire much quicker). The first 30 minutes the dog may be excited seeing all the people and then the dog tires and doesn’t care so much about the other people. Then we spend another 1.5 hours training and the dog continues to do better and better. Each following day the dog does better faster than the previous day until they are a delight to walk around people.


What Should I Train First?


Here is how we answer that question:


  • What are your training goals with your dog?
  • What energy level is your dog right now?


Let’s say your main goal for your dog is to have a Down Stay command for 1 hour.


Next we determine what Energy Level your dog is. Let’s say your dog is very hyper at this current moment. According to the Energy Spectrum you would either need to burn off your dog’s energy first or start training a High Energy Exercise like Recall or Fetch and then work your way down to stay.


Example: When we train dogs we may want to work on training Stay but the dog is very hyper. We often use an ATV to run the dogs to help burn off energy. We may let them run and play in a large pen to burn energy or if that dog knows how to fetch we will play fetch to exercise that dog. See the article on Exercising a Dog for more ideas. Once that dog is tired from either exercise or training we will then work on Stay when the dog is tired and glad to stay in position.


If we were to try and work on Stay when the dog is hyper they may whine and bark and put up a big fuss. Remember the Core Rule - Training Every Second? If we trained Stay when the dog was hyper and they barked for 20 minutes until they quieted down that will often become the dog’s habit. When told to stay they will bark first before being quiet. If we tire the dog out first and then work on stay they will often be quiet because they are tired, so that quickly becomes their habit.


Car Rides are a good example - Many people load their dog into the car to take them somewhere to be exercised. The dog is most full of energy at this point. The dog may often whine or bark in the vehicle because they are excited, this becomes their habit.


We will put a dog into a vehicle when they are tired so being calm and quiet in the vehicle becomes their habit. Often people find they load the dog in the vehicle to take them to a park to exercise them. There are ways to exercise a dog close to home so that when they are put in the vehicle they learn to be calm and quiet. See Exercising a Dog for more tips.


Summary


  • Write out your training goals.
  • Determine the Energy Level of your dog.
  • Either Exercise first till you achieve the correct energy level or begin training a Higher Energy Exercise first such as Recall or Fetch and work your way down to your desired Energy Level.


The reason we developed this was when we first did Board and Train. Imagine you are in this situation:


Not only do you have to train a dog fully but you have to do it in a specific time frame to get paid. If you don’t train the dog, you don’t get paid and therefore your bills cannot be paid and in a short matter of time you will have no where to live.


This is why we set up training the way we did:


  • Write your goals.
  • Don’t fight the Energy Spectrum.
  • Training Every Second


Training Every Second - You want to ensure that if possible, every single second of the day the dog is doing a behaviour you want and never practicing a behaviour you don’t want. The more seconds they do what you want the faster the dog trains.


Now that you understand these principles you can write out your training goals. Next you can review the different methods to train for your desired goals.