Train Behaviors That Don’t Matter

I know, I know…You want to get to the high-speed, low drag cool stuff with your new dog but please hear me out!

Start by building relationship and trust FIRST! How does the dog feel about you emotionally? Are they interested in doing things WITH you? Are they generally optimistic about the world?

If things aren’t great with the above, please don’t progress. But if all that is going great then…

Start by teaching things that don’t really matter in the long run. Now you might be thinking my time is very limited and I need to get my dog to do A, B, C ASAP!

Go slow to go fast. Put in the time now so you don’t waste time later going back and fixing problems and holes in training.

Stick with me here! You and your dog are learning to speak a common language and if that is unclear it can lead to a dog who gets frustrated (or you get frustrated), the dog gets demotivated and learning is stunted. Don’t do this with important behaviors!

Work out the kinks with what I call “throw away behaviors.” This is regardless of whatever training method you are using.

This way when (not if) things go a bit awry you are not setting up a faulty foundation with a behavior that is critical in real life.

Alright if you are still with me, you are probably asking what are throw away behaviors? A few of my go to’s are:

  • Sending the dog around a cone (or any novel object)
  • Having the dog put their nose in yogurt container (or small soccer cone)
  • Having the dog get all 4 feet in small-ish cardboard box
  • “Spin” in both directions

There are many more, especially if you are a creative thinker, but this should give you a general idea. To see video examples check out this playlist.

When you are working through throw away behaviors with your dog, you and your dog, are learning an incredible amount about each other, how to work together, how you each feel about training. In short you as the trainer are teaching your dog how to learn!

Once you get really good at teaching throw away behaviors and your dog loves to learn THEN move on to formal and important behaviors.

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