My daughter has taken it upon herself recently to attempt to train Atlas with a new trick. I’m totally fine with this, of course, I encourage the kids to try to train the dogs on all kinds of things. The only thing is, is sometimes kids don’t know how to train any dog. Kids will often call out numerous commands at once. This leads to several issues.
First, the dog is confused. Dogs are like toddlers, they can only really focus on one main task at a time. So, if they’re calling out, “Sit, no, Sit, Come, Stay, Sit.” Of course, the dog is going to be confused. One command at a time. Only one.
It’s really easy to train a dog if you know how to train any dog. I’m going to go over some key things to remember when you start the training.
Getting Ready to Train.
You might be confused by this title, but you do have to kind of get ready to train. Meaning, you have to have treats on hand. You can’t train a dog just by spewing out some words. See, dogs are a give and a receive kind of animal. Not like cats, so don’t go there. Cats are all receive animals. They give nothing in return for wanting the world.
Dogs on the other hand love to please us. But there has to be incentive for them, too. So if you have treats on hand that they like, they’ll do just about anything for them. Dogs do love food. Most anyway.
Second, you need to be in an environment with little distractions. When you first start training a dog, they need to know who to listen to and who to focus on. If you’re in a room full of people, they’re not going to be able to focus. This is also when you start training. My kids don’t understand that only one person at a time can train.
One Person at a Time.
Imagine a small child being in a room full of people. Everyone in the room has a bowl full of candy. If you have 5 different people calling out that child’s name, who will they listen to? I mean, each person is holding up that chocolate and saying, “Come here, Sally.”
Don’t you think Sally is going to look a little confused? She’s going to look at each person and not know who to listen to. Even if you have 2 people. She’ll still most likely be confused.
It’s the same for dogs. I get that kids get excited to train the dog. I mean, every kid on the planet wants that dog that can run and grab things. What a neat trick to show their friends! But, it doesn’t happen that way. So, when my kids decide to start the “training” and they get frustrated, having someone jump in isn’t going to help.
Now, my daughter will ask for my help, but then she likes to chime in as well. I have to nip this in the bud since Atlas will seem confused. As she should be. You can’t have two people calling out different commands. Doesn’t work. So, one person at a time!
Next, you have to have patience!
Patience Pays Off.
Learning how to train any dog requires patience. Not only from you, but from everyone involved. See, dogs don’t learn commands in one go. Some do, but more often than not, it takes a few times. Heck, my old dog Annie needed years to learn commands! Sheesh that dog was hard to train. But, I was patient and persistent. I never gave up on her training. By the time she was 10, she was great! I’m exaggerating of course, she was 4 when she finally learned. Her head with thick. But, she eventually learned.
Atlas isn’t like that, she’s very smart. She learns commands very easily. Key takeaway – each dog is different. So, even if your dog isn’t getting it right away, try and try again. But, be sure you know your surroundings. Any sort of distraction is your enemy. Dogs need to focus and they need to focus on the trainer.
Multiple people is not a good idea. If you have a family, one person should be the main trainer. This is the person that has been decided to be the main focal point for the dog. You need this especially in the beginning.
Also, consistency is very, very important!
Consistency is so Important!
I can’t stress this enough, being consistent with how you train any dog is the most important thing. If you have one person in the family that uses one hand signal and another uses something different, naturally, your dog will be confused. You have to use the same commands and signals.
Now, I train with hand signals and words. Annie, when she turned 12 years went deaf. The only reason she understood what I was saying was because I had used hand signals. If I hadn’t used hand signals, she would’ve been lost. It was because of her that I continue to use them today.
But, imagine poor Sally in that room again. 2 people are saying come here, but one person is using the come here gesture and the other is using the go away gesture. Poor Sally isn’t going to understand what the heck you want. Dogs need people to be on the same page.
Even when it comes to kids, they have to understand the training process. Especially for important things like potty training. Man oh man, my kids didn’t get it. The dog literally has to go in the same spot every single time. And, every single time, they have to be praised for “Going potty outside.” Every time! Let me tell you, nothing botches potty training like young kids.
Last, Have Fun!
When you first start learning how to train any dog, have fun with them. This shouldn’t be a job! You’re teaching your dog to be communicable with your family. Teaching them the basics for when they’re in public. All dogs should understand, “Come, Sit, Stay, Heel, Leave It, Down.” Why?
You’re out in public and you’re at a park. It’s a nice day to take the dog outside. Only, you haven’t trained your dog yet. Another dog is nearby, but on a leash. You don’t know that this dog is not friendly towards other dogs. Next thing you know, your dog simply wants to play. But, the other dog doesn’t. If you can’t say, “Name, Come!” They don’t know to come back. A dog fight breaks out and your dog gets hurt.
This is the last thing you want to have happen! I’ve seen it over and over, too. Especially new dogs with people that have never trained them. Before you take your dog out to any park, they should be trained on the basics.
Remember – one person at a time. Be patient and consistent. Use the same words, one at a time, and the same hand signals. Have lots of treats. Above all, have fun with your dog. This is a bonding moment between you both. You should be loving the communication that happens between you.
Last, love them! Your dog wants to please you, they love you unconditionally. Getting frustrated with them will lead to sadness in your dog. Only because, they want to make you happy, but don’t understand why you’re not.
So, Love your dog while you have them in your life. Cherish these bonding moments!