So when will my dog be trained? It’s a question I frequently hear. The correct response is “Never”. Dogs are forever learning, just like people. Dogs learn by behavior/response. If your dog is 5 years old and you never have given him a food during dinner time you will not have a dog that begs. However, treat that dog one time from the table while you are eating and you now have a dog; sitting, staring and whining at you for a morsel. Dogs are forever learning.
Become inconsistent with the rules and the dog will start thinking he/she can get on the bed, can jump on strangers, and doesn’t have to come when called. What you do has a direct correlation on how your dog behaves. Guess what folks? If you have a dog who is unruly, runs away, barks, and chases after people, it’s your fault. It’s certainly not the dog’s fault, he/she wasn’t told any different.
I specialize in remote collar training. After about the second week of training my clients want to know when they will no longer need the remote collar? The remote collar is an invisible leash, your emergency button; it could save your dog’s life. The remote collar is meant to interrupt your dog’s thinking so he/she can look at you and you can give them something to do, other than chase squirrel across the street and get run over by a car. We are tapping the dog on the shoulder, just like your child would do, to gain your attention to ask you a question.
So, now we know training is never over. There are always going to be distractions you have to deal with, things in the environment that tweak your dog’s curiosity. My dogs are 6, 5 and 3 ½ years old. I still use food to reinforce behavior, the ball to keep focus. They get rusty so they need continuous reinforcement.
I come from a police service dog background. Once a week we had a K-9 training day. We called it maintenance training. There is a reason why we had maintenance training. It was to “maintain” the dog’s level of training. If the dog did not need maintenance training, we would not need any training after their initial academy class.
Police Officers go to the range to practice shooting their firearms. We train under distractions, shoot a variety of targets and practice scenarios. You need to do the same thing with your dog. When teaching the place command we just don’t teach the dog the place command. They pick that up pretty quickly. Once they understand the place command we add distractions; dropping food on the floor, rolling a ball, and ringing the doorbell. The old’ doorbell trick gets them every time. My point is don’t be complacent with your dog. Always challenge them.
By challenging your dog, you make them think. Making a dog think, tires them just as much, if not more as physical exercise. Stimulation both physical and psychological is healthy for you dog and will help them the lead a happy well balanced life.
So, get off the computer, take your dog outdoors and do some training. They will love you for it.