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Contributed to AKC Canine Partners by Rexann Lemke

Consistency, Patience, Fun – Remember those three words and you will develop a great relationship with your dog that leads to successful training. That is the advice of professional dog trainer Rexann Lemke who operates Rex’s Canine Training LLC in Wisconsin. Rexann is the owner, handler and trainer of top obedience and rally All-American competitor, Ziva, who is formally known as Ziva D. of Wissota BN CD RAE. Rexann and Ziva qualified and competed in the 2013 & 2015 AKC National Rally Competitions and the 2013 AKC Obedience Classic where they won the Top Scoring All-American Dog award.

I think the three most important words to remember in dog training are consistency, patience and fun.  While many of us believe this, we sometimes forget to practice it.


When you are training a behavior, you must consistently reward the behavior.  If the behavior is new to the dog, you must immediately positively reinforce it when the dog is doing its best to give you what you want. Once the dog knows the behavior, don’t settle for less.  Reward the correct behavior. If the behavior is incorrect, don’t be negative. Just ask the dog “what happened” or say “oops,” so it knows it is not what you want.  Then show them how to do it correctly and reward the behavior.   


Some behaviors take longer to learn for some dogs than others. Be patient! Help the dog get it right. The light bulb will go on!  Never show the dog that you are frustrated. The dog will pick up on your frustration, and this will only create stress. Neither people nor dogs can learn under stress. Take your time. Don’t rush things.  Keep your training sessions short and positive. Always end your sessions with play. 


You and your dog should enjoy training and competition. It is a time to bond and have fun. Our dogs work so hard to please us, don’t forget to appreciate and reward their efforts. If you do it right, your dog will be happy to work with you and you with them. Above all, KEEP IT FUN!


Rexann Lemke started competing with dogs after adopting Preston in 1995. In 2007, she started Rex’s Canine Training, LLC.  In addition to training dogs and handlers in performance sports, Rexann is an AKC Canine Good Citizen and Therapy Dogs International Evaluator.  Retiring in 2009 after 30 years from her position as a police lieutenant, she has been able to spend more time training and competing.  In 2009, she adopted Ziva D. of Wissota BN CD RAE. Ziva competes in obedience, rally, flyball, freestyle, and herding, as well as being an AKC Canine Good Citizen and Therapy Dog. Rexann and Ziva competed in the inaugural AKC National Rally Competition in Tulsa (March 2013) and the AKC Obedience Classic in Orlando (December 2013) where Ziva received “Top All American.”