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How Long Should Dog Training Take?

 

-The Trainer will train YOU to train your dog. The trainer will only be with you an hour, maybe a package of sessions each lasting an hour. They cannot in that time fully train your dog. They can however, give you the tools to do so.

 

-YOU are going to need to do the homework. Your dog trainer, after showing you how, will let you practice and give you coaching on technique and what works for your dog. Then it is up to you to do the homework. If you are not practicing training then your dog will not magically become trained. Think about it like learning to play a musical instrument. If you don’t practice between the times your tutor comes over, you will not have any progress to show the tutor on their next visit, neither will you have any questions to ask. It will be a wasted visit.

 

-Dog training is SLOW and progressive. The optimal way for dogs to learn is in short frequent bursts. I often advise my clients to practice in 3 to 5 minute chunks multiple time per day. Dogs can learn a lot in this way and this makes it practical for the owner too. Consistency is key here, do some every day.

 

-You will have good sessions and bad sessions. Sometimes you will think your dog has cracked it, and the next day you will think they have forgotten it all. Trust the overall ability of the dog is improving. Dogs can learn from a session even where they have not displayed it. Next session, hey presto they have cracked it. This is because sometimes they need to go and think about it and commit it to memory.

 

-Just because the dog knows it at home, it DOESN’T mean they will know it outside. Think about it, your dog will come to you in the living room but not in the park where there are other dogs and a squirrel. This does NOT mean your dog knows a recall. It means your dog knows a very basic recall at home and this needs to be practiced in gradual steps of difficulty. For example, living room, kitchen, kitchen with distractions, garden with no distractions, garden with distractions, front garden no distractions, front garden with distractions, street no distractions, street with distractions, park when it is quiet, park when it is busy. It could take months, this is the reality of dog training.

 

-If your dog doesn’t listen to you at home why would they listen to you in the park where there are more temptations. If your dog doesn’t take reward treats at the park then you need to do LOTS of training at home to build up a training relationship. In many cases my first few training sessions will be with someone at home. You cannot expect to go straight to the park and practice recall if you have no training relationship with the dog at home. Again, a dog that recalls in the living room only, does not mean you are ready to go and train in the park.

 

-Think weeks, months and years. The time frame for training a reliable behaviour of any kind in multiple locations and situations is, I’m afraid, weeks, months and years provided you put the work in.

 

-Dog training is not like it is on TV. Most tv shows are heavily edited to entertain the viewer in half an hour or one hour chunks. This is not real dog training. Do not trust any dog trainer who claims to be able to fix a behaviour in one session. Certainly, do not trust them if they are using intimidation of your dog to achieve it.

 

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