So you want to start training your dog.
But where should you begin?
Usually, the best place to start is with the all-important skill of ‘recall.’
Table of Contents
Beginning with recall
A good recall can literally save your dog’s life.
It is the foundation of any puppy training program and often the skill many fail to master thoroughly.
This is because people do not always understand
- How to win at dog training
- How to proof commands
If your dog’s recall is less than perfect, you can fix this by spending some time each day encouraging your dog to come to you and rewarding him with some pretty impressive juicy bits of meat.
You can start indoors in your kitchen when no one else is around and make it easy for your dog to win.
Reduce the value and frequency of your rewards gradually once your dog is regularly successful in this location. Then start over in a different room with your impressive rewards once more.
Reducing the value of rewards
We need to use frequent high-value rewards when introducing a new skill or a new level of difficulty, but should ‘fade’ these before moving on to the next level.
This means replacing juicy meat with little dry treats and replacing rewards for every successful behavior with rewards for every fourth or fifth behavior.
Moving up a level
Add one difficulty level (e.g., a new location or a minor distraction) at a time.
That is One At A Time!
Always ramp up the rewards when you make things harder for the dog.
If you are happiest following a detailed training program, you should read my recall training book, Total Recall, in July 2012.
In the meantime, you can also go to the Labrador Site and check out the Recall Training Centre we have set up there. All the information there is free. And there is a forum where you can ask questions.
Sit and stay
If your puppy has a perfect recall, then the next essential skill to teach him is the ‘sit.’ Not just any old sit, but a sit that lasts until you tell him he can go. Most often referred to as a sit/stay.
Sit is an excellent command because it can replace other less appropriate behaviors, such as jumping up. Follow the principles in the links above. And you will succeed.
How about you?
What are you teaching your dog to do at the moment? Are you having fun?