Spring into action by training your dog

Spring is traditionally the season of new beginnings. Now is a great time to head outdoors to teach your dog some new tricks or tackle some of those obedience niggles.

PDSA Vet, Vicki Larkham recommends a method which uses rewards for good behaviour as the best way to train your dog. “As well as being effective, ‘reward-based’ training is fun for your dog too and that is the key to success.”

PDSA’s golden training rules:

Something worth having – Make sure that the reward you’re offering is an attractive prospect for your dog: some would do anything for a small piece of a treat, others like a cuddle or a game. .

Timing is everything – It’s important that you reward your dog as it is exhibiting the good behaviour or within a maximum of a couple of seconds afterwards, otherwise it’s unlikely that the dog will connect the two.

Keep it short –Keep training sessions ‘little and often’ to maintain the fun of the exercise and to avoid you and your dog becoming frustrated.

One-by-One – focus on teaching your dog one command at a time.

Clear commands – to avoid confusing your pet make sure commands are simple and consistent and are accompanied by a hand signal. For example, don’t use several words for ‘sit’ or different hand signals for one desired response.

Practice, practice, practice!

The key to your dog understanding a new command is repetition. Your dog might not understand immediately, but with the right practice and patience your dog will understand in time.

Ignore mistakes – some dogs will make mistakes, it’s not their fault and it doesn’t mean they can’t learn the task, just that it will take more practice. So ignore the mistakes and reward them whenever they do get it right.

Never use punishment.

For further information visit www.pdsa.or.uk