Did you resolve to spend more quality time with your inquisitive canine this year? You’re not alone! In fact, January is National Train Your Dog Month. So if you’re looking to enhance the human-canine bond and interested in tips to make training your dog a breeze, you’re in the right place.
Last year, The Inquisitive Canine provided a series of posts, Fido’s Homeschooling DIY Training Program, to help guide pet parents through teaching some of the skills from the Inquisitive Canine class curriculum. We began the series with an overview of Back to School Shopping suggestions and a review of some commonly used training terms and ideas used in our pawsitive approach for positive results. Training tip: Enjoy fun AND success in training by incorporating lots enthusiasm, praise and love!
With that strong foundation in place, you and your inquisitive canine are ready to explore learning (or brushing up on) skills you can take beyond the “classroom” and out into the real world together. Here’s a brief summary of the curriculum, including links to each post containing step-by-step instructions on how to train the skill:
- Charging the Clicker and “The Magic Word” – A click – or a magic word, such as “Good!” or “Yes!” – can be used to communicate with your pup that what she or he did at a specific moment is what you wanted. When successfully trained, the sound of the ‘click’ or your ‘magic word’ means something wonderful is coming. And, when you’re consistent with what you’re reinforcing and when, it’s easier for your dog to understand exactly what you’re requesting. Simple clicker training can be a game changer for other skills where clear communication and/or timing are challenging.
- Touch (Target Training) – Targeting, teaching animals to use a body part to touch something with intention, has many applications for teaching a variety of other behaviors. When you and your inquisitive canine start to master target training together, you’re likely to discover several benefits, including:
- With some creativity, these exercises are incredibly fun for you and your pup!
- This type of learning, where the animal is in control of the outcome, as opposed to humans trying to control the animal, results in learners who are usually more excited to participate in the activity. Meaning that, with practice, you can engage in cooperative care with your pup when it comes to necessities like grooming and vet care.
- Targeting is the foundation for other useful skills – such as Go To Your Place – where dogs learn to “target” a body part -or even their whole bodies- on an object.
- Go to your place –With the Go to Your Place cue, whether you’re hanging out at home or away, your pup has a very handy skill that you’ll want to keep sharp with lots of practice and encouragement. The exercise outlined helps you teach your dog to go to a specific location and sit, stand or lie down.
- Sit and Stay – Building from there, what you really want in many of these situations is for your pup to ‘Go to Your Place’ and stay there for an amount of time. It’s not only a matter of nice manners, but safety, to help your inquisitive canine learn a very solid Sit/Stay using a pawsitive approach. As with the other topics covered, being expansive about when and where you practice, will really help your inquisitive canine generalize these fundamental skills so you have them when and where you need them.
- Leave It – A very useful cue, ‘Leave It’ means, “Stop what you’re doing and check in with me for an incredible reward!” The Leave It cue is extremely versatile and can even be a lifesaving skill to have in your behavior toolbox – think about the times you would like Fido to leave things alone when asked. Whether indoors or out, devoted pet guardians want to be confident that, on cue, their inquisitive canines know how to move away from an item or situation and check in with the handler, no matter the temptation.
- Loose Leash Walking – Loose Leash Walking (LLW) means your dog is walking calmly on leash while being allowed to explore, sniff, and enjoy – within the length of your leash, without pulling, tugging, or lunging. On leash walks, dogs often pull. This is normal! Keep in mind that the average dog walks at a pace much faster than ours. Happily, with patience and consistency dogs can learn how to walk nicely on leash, making walks more pleasant for us, and enjoyable for them. We outline Loose Leash Walking one step at a time – literally! You’ll discover how to start your practice with the basics indoors, then move the training outdoors and even use your dog’s environment as a source of real-life rewards.
Training is a Lifetime Endeavor
Training is an important, ongoing part of the relationship between you and your dog. If you’re inspired to try some of these homeschooling exercises, wonderful! We want to empower you to bring out the best in your best friend.
If you’d like to go beyond the DIY approach with your Inquisitive Canine, we’d love to hear from you! Online dog training is a convenient way for you and your BFF (Best Fur Friend) to continue to enhance your lifelong learning together. Contact us for more information or to get started today. Tell us about your needs, your goals, and your furry friend, and we’ll let you know how we can help you. We focus on how you would like your dog to behave and work towards those goals with guidance and encouragement – all while using the convenience of your computer or phone, no matter where you and your inquisitive canine live.
Thank you for including us in your training adventures and being a caring, devoted, inquisitive pet parent!