The Secret is Out - Here are our secrets to successful dog training
Here at Best Behaviour Dog Training, we are proud of our progressive approach to training. Our puppy & dog training classes are part of a 44-week, ongoing training course with six certification levels for dogs and their humans to achieve. We designed this course so we could support dogs and their owners at every life stage and with the way dogs learn in mind. Long gone are the days of a simple six-week puppy course to tick the “responsible dog owner” box. We trainers know the benefits of ongoing, layered training for you and your dogs and we wanted to share that with you. So, what should you expect from progressive training and why is it so important?
Why should you continue training?
Dogs Learn in Layers
Imagine you are trying to learn a new skill, such as a new language – you don’t jump straight to long, complex sentences. You start with simple words and phrases, building towards more complex words and sentence structures. You also practice over an extended period of time – taking lessons for a few weeks and then stopping for the rest of the year wouldn’t create much reliability when you tried to speak the language on your next holiday.
Our dogs are the same, and we can teach them lifelong lessons and create reliable behaviours by starting with the basics and working consistently with them over a period of time. Particularly with our young dogs, they have some difficult life stages ahead of them – did you know their brains are literally rewiring themselves during adolescence? – so consistent training is key to keeping them from developing bad habits and forgetting their training.
Your Training Needs Will Change
As your dogs age, both their and your training needs and priorities will change. As a young puppy, you might want to focus on teaching your dog what is and isn’t okay to jump on or bite as well as basic cues such as “sit” or “stay.” As your dog reaches adolescence and gets bolder, you may realise your recall isn’t as solid as you thought it was. As your dog gets bigger, you may suddenly find yourself panicking that you’ve not worked enough on your lead walking skills!
A broad and progressive approach to training means not only are you likely to have covered at least the basics of these skills before you get into difficulty, but you can expect to recap and build on those foundations to make sure your dog remembers those valuable life lessons. As our dogs reach adolescence and adulthood, things they found exciting as a puppy might now be less interesting. Meanwhile, other things they hadn’t previously paid any attention to may now be big distractions! So, revisiting these skills at every life stage will ensure your dog learns to make good choices and offer these behaviours reliably around a variety of different distractions.
Progress is Not Linear
Just like us, dogs have their off days, weeks or even months! We’ve already mentioned that your young dogs will be going through different life stages as they grow and mature; these add yet another wrinkle to our training game! Many dog owners will be able to relate to the experience of their once-reliable recall deteriorating as their puppy becomes a teenager, for example. This is why consistent training over a long period of time is the most effective way to ensure the lessons we teach our dogs really do sink in and that we don’t end up heading down the wrong path when things get tough!
It is all too easy to fall back on scolding our dogs for not doing something we feel sure they should know and be able to do, without considering the many, varied reasons they may be struggling. Not only is this not helpful, it can actually harm our relationship with our dogs and make the situation even worse. It is also easy to keep setting our dogs up to learn precisely the WRONG thing because we don’t want to accept that they have taken a step backwards and need to revise! Take the recall example – if we continually let our teenage dogs off the lead because they used to be so good at coming back, this gives them the opportunity to continually run up to that other dog, chase that squirrel etc. while ignoring our voices. Once our dogs learn how fun it is to switch their ears off and take off running, it can often take a LOT of time and effort to get back to a solid recall! It’s much better to keep ahead of these issues with ongoing training.
What can you expect to achieve with ongoing training?
Ongoing training will allow you to build a wonderful relationship with your dog. They will learn to be engaged and responsive with you and will be able to offer their learned behaviours in different situations! A great example of this is Bear, a poodle who has been bringing his human with him to class for over 6 months now – since he was small. He lives in a quiet town in the rural county of Suffolk, but recently took a trip to London to see the sights and didn’t put a paw wrong. His regular training classes mean he has a solid, extensive training foundation and has trained in all sorts of weathers and around all sorts of dogs and distractions.
A Happy Dog
Consistent training with the support of professionals will allow you as a dog owner to properly support your pup through every life stage and event. Olive the Labrador trained with us for the better part of a year. She recently went through a tough first season followed by a phantom pregnancy and spaying. Advice and guidance from professionals helped her humans to support her throughout and her training made it much easier to manage the difficult times when she was less able to get out on her usual walks, providing enrichment and fun to keep her happy and calm.
A Well-Rounded Dog
Training doesn’t just teach dogs specific behaviours – group classes are a great way to work on appropriate socialisation and professional trainers are a wealth of information to help dog owners understand their dogs’ needs. Dogs like Stanley the Staffordshire bull terrier, who has been training with us for almost a year, benefit massively from attending regular classes. Stanley has covered basic training so he is able to be engaged and responsive with his human, impulse control so he can make good choices and not feel frustrated around distractions like other dogs, scent games as a feel-good activity and an outlet for natural dog behaviours and how to socialise appropriately with other dogs. Stanley’s owner says he is the calmest dog they have ever had!
Well-trained dogs are not only easier to live with and more pleasant to be around, they also have opportunities for fun that untrained dogs miss out on! Well-trained dogs are more likely to be able to enjoy off-lead walks safely due to their reliable recall; they are more likely to be able to enjoy a variety of dog walks in any location as they are easy and pleasant to walk on or off the lead; they are more likely to be able to form friendships with other dogs as they know how to behave appropriately; they are more likely to be able to attend fun training classes such as agility, gundog or scent work courses!
Pippa the golden retriever has been training with us for three years now, since she was a puppy, and has attended not only our general training classes but also our social skills power hour, masterclasses, agility classes, fun gundog classes and will soon be attending our scent work course! Pippa and her human are able to enjoy so many different activities and have fun together while they both learn new skills because she is so well-trained and is able to be calm, relaxed and engaged wherever she is. Book all our classes here