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 is a professional dog trainer 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 and 2015 AKC National Rally Competitions and the 2013 AKC Obedience Classic where they won the Top Scoring All-American Dog award.