Dog Training: 10 Steps to Improve Your Dog’s Retention (even if he is over-excited)

Published by , 5th December 2016 in Dog Training

Dog Training: 10 Steps to Improve Your Dog’s Retention (even if he is over-excited)

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Dog Training is really fun, albeit challenging experience, particularly if you have never attempted it before. With the right dog training principles in mind, most dogs will respond very well to simple obedience training, and they often get the hang of new commands after just a few repetitions.

In my +10 years of experience in dog training, I have seen many challenging dogs (and dog owners), but I can tell you that those who succeeded followed exactly what I will describe in this article.

If you want to improve your dog’s retention during your training sessions, try following some of these suggestions.

10) Always use the same commands when dog training

Before uttering your first command to your new puppy, you need to establish the queues you will use as a set of commands. Dogs, like people, learn best through repetition.

Many people will be discouraged by slow learning or poor retention and try different trigger words or phrases to see if they will work any better. This is essentially like starting over with the training and dramatically slows learning. Your dog doesn’t know English and will never really learn it, so using two different words with the same meaning, while making sense to you, will make no sense to your dog.

Dog Training tip for new dog owners:

Write down the words, sounds or phrases you plan on using for each command and stick with them. Even if your dog is slow to learn, changing the commands you use will do nothing but make the process even slower.

9) Establish one person to perform the dog training

While training your new puppy, establishing a relationship is one of the most important things you can begin with. Having a pre-existing trust between you and your dog will go a long way toward him remembering and following commands.

Once he has the basics down it is okay to include other family members so your dog can learn to obey them as well. But it is important to make sure he already understands you on all basic commands.

8) Keep training sessions short

Most dogs are likely to only focus on a repetitive training session for 15 minutes or so at a time. After that, the chances he will pay attention to anything you try to teach him drops off considerably.

Rather than forcing him to endure an hour long training session each day, try breaking it up into several short sessions to increase his retention. My suggestion: Try a little bit before work and 2 sessions after you come back. And one of the sessions can always be “how to leash train a dog” and the other one could be “Crate training at night“. By doing so, it will increase your chances of success. If you go home during lunch, you can have one more session.

7) Make training sessions fun

Do you remember the best classes you had in school? I’m sure they were funny! With your dog is exactly the same!

If your dog enjoys the training sessions he will be much more likely to remain engaged and excited for the next session. Attitude is everything, so as long as you keep a positive demeanor throughout the exercises your dog will reflect your attitude and enjoy himself.

You can increase your chances by doing it outside in a park or anywhere else your dog enjoys going. But keep in mind that a calm place with no distractions will benefit both of you. Also, at the end of this article, I explain how to deal with an excited dog during training lessons.

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6) Reward your dog for good behavior

The most effective way of teaching your dog a trick or command is to reward him for doing it correctly. As soon as your dog learns to associate the reward for the behavior, I guarantee that he will repeat the behavior more often. As mentioned in other posts, punishing your dog for bad behavior does not work (positive reinforcement is a very important tool in dog training).

5) Use a variety of rewards

Different dogs are likely to prefer different rewards. Some dogs prefer treats, some prefer toys. Others just want a little bit of playtime or petting. Try a variety of rewards when your dog completes a command to see which he likes best. Remember his tastes are apt to change from time to time so don’t stop adding variety to your rewards.

4) Incorporate distance commands

Once your dog has learned the basics you need to cap off the training with distance commands. Train your dog to ‘come’ or ‘stay’ from greater and greater distances, slowly.
This is an important step in getting your dog to recognize and obey commands in a variety of situations. Without distance training, many dogs will only follow commands in a training environment and not when it’s important in other situations.

3) Be consistent when Dog Training

A solid foundation is extremely important in a repetitive dog training regimen. Changing up the way you do things from time to time will confuse him and slow down learning. I touched on this in the first step about using the same words, but the same principal needs to be applied to other aspects of the regimen as well.

2) Don’t move too quickly

Even the smartest dogs are likely to get confused if you move too quickly from one trick to another before he has mastered the first one. Limit yourself to one trick or command per training session and remember to repeat repeat repeat and be consistent.

1) Use simple sequences

Before any dog can learn to jump through a hoop, he needs to learn to first walk through the hoop and then to jump on command. Rather than trying to teach your dog a complex command all at once, try creating a sequence of simple and easy to follow commands that all lead up to the end result.

How to deal with an over excited Dog during training?

Some of you may have exactly the same question because it takes a lot of energy to train a dog that is over excited. It is not easy for me to tell you the reason your dog is excited without knowing your dog. However, in my experience, it comes to 2 things:

1)    Your Dog is bored at home without you and he gets really excited when he sees you
2)    Your Dog could have Dog Separation Anxiety and shows tons of excitement when he sees you

Important: Try to understand the difference between both because the solution is completely different from each other

What to do with a bored dog?

Solution: Attention and Exercise.

Give attention in the form of exercise! Go out for a walk and have fun before training him. Your dog was probably sitting during the whole day and starts jumping when you open the front door (be careful because you don’t want to reward this behavior (read here how to prevent a dog from jumping on guests) since he will jump up on everyone who opens the front door).

After your dog burned some energy and you are in a calm place where he can focus on you, then, you can start your dog training session.

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Helping a Dog with Separation Anxiety

Solution: Ignore him and don’t allow him to jump on you. Again, don’t miss my article on how to avoid a dog jumping on guests.

I wrote an article on symptoms of Dog Separation Anxiety and you will be able to understand if your dog has it or not. Tip: if he is destroying your house when you leave, that is a clue that your dog may have it.

In summary, you want to calm down your dog by ignoring him a little bit. Again, don’t punish your dog, because it doesn’t work.

You can try the 10 steps described in this article after your dog is in a calm state.

Dog Training is the best solution for a Bored Dog or Dog Separation Anxiety

I assume your dog is getting enough exercise, if not, I recommend a dog walker, especially if you feel this is the reason. My best solution is dog training using the techniques described in my eBooks and articles.

If you follow everything, I’m 100% sure your dog will obey you instantly and you will have an amazing relationship. That is exactly what you want, right?

Conclusion on “How to improve a Dog’s retention during Dog Training sessions”

Dog Training can be fun if you go about it the right way. If you are consistent in your training methods, your dog is likely to enjoy the training sessions and to retain the training itself. If not, however, your dog may become confused, and you may both find the whole process frustrating.

Have your learned something new after reading this article? And do you want to read more tips like these about dog training and dog behavior? then download our free eBook below. You will get +90 pages of information on three different books (“The top 20 Dog Health Problems and How to Prevent them”, “How to be the Alpha dog and Stop your Dog’s Behavior Problems” and “How to Stop the 10 Most Common Dog Obedience Problems”.

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Thank you for reading this article and Happy Dog Training!