There isn’t enough information right now to truly understand how COVID-19 may spread between pets and infected individuals. To be on the safe side, current CDC guidelines state that you should not be letting your pets interact with people or animals outside your household… this means no training or obedience classes for your pooch! Luckily, you don’t need to be a professional in order to train your dog at home… it’s easy! All it takes is 15 minutes a day, some treats, and a little extra patience!
Evaluate Your Pup
Before you begin training your dog, you’re going to need to take a step back and evaluate them. Ask yourself what motivates your pup – high value treats and praise are a good place to start. A high value treat should be something your pet doesn’t get all the time – like chicken, liverwurst, or peanut butter.
When trying to figure out the ideal treats for training, keep the three S’s in mind… soft, small, and stinky! A training treat shouldn’t be a time-consuming snack, either, like a crumbly biscuit or a Kong filled with peanut butter, for example – you want your pup to be able to eat it quickly so you can move on to reinforcing the next skill. If you need some help determining what motivates your dog, you can check out our video.
Some other things to consider are:
- Does your dog favor a certain activity, like playing fetch or sniffing?
- How does your dog react when his ball rolls under the couch?
- Does your dog prefer playing with you, or does he take his toy away to play independently?
These factors are all more important than you may think! They may indicate your dog’s working instinct, cognition, and biddability, and knowing these things can be very helpful when it comes to training your dog in the most effective way possible. Check out our series What Does Breed Have To Do With It to find out why!
These factors are all more important than you may think! They may indicate your dog’s working instinct, cognition, and biddability, and knowing these things can be very helpful when it comes to training your dog in the most effective way possible.
BEGIN WITH CORE SKILLS
You have to walk before you can run, so always start with basic training steps that teach core skills before building up to more ambitious training. Once your pooch has got those basic training steps mastered, you can move on to more advanced skills, or even tricks like jumping rope! (When you’re ready, check out our Trickster Tuesday playlist for some fun tricks.)
WE RECOMMEND FOUR CORE SKILLS TO START OUT:
1) Stay – It can be difficult to get a dog to stay when there are temptations around, but this skill is very important for his safety.
2) Leave it – Another skill that will help keep your pup safe, this one reminds them to leave something alone, whether it’s a bit of food or a poisonous plant. It can also serve as a reminder to not go running off after critters.
3) Touch – training your pooch to touch their nose or paw to something can help redirect them and keep them focused. They can even use it to ring a bell, letting you know they’d like to go outside! (Touch can be particularly helpful when training your dog to the SpotOn Fence; you will need to teach them to return to the center of the yard and touch a sign whenever they hear a tone.)
4) Come when called – Arguably the most basic skill, any dog that you want to allow off leash should be able to come when you call them.
No matter which core skills you start out with, it’s important that your pup have these skills mastered before you think about letting them explore off-leash using the SpotOn Fence, or any other wireless fence system.
How to train
Training should be a fun activity for your dog, not a chore! It’s always best to work on a skill for no longer than 15 minutes, with lots of positive reinforcement and treats when your pup performs. Do what you can to make training feel like a game, so your dog associates “stay” with good feelings and treats. Here are some videos from our core training series:
Reinforce those skills
Once your pet has grasped some basic skills, don’t forget to reinforce these skills periodically while still keeping things fun. One example of a game that reinforces a skill is our version of Red Light, Green Light. To play, sit your dog next to you and give him the ‘stay’ command, then throw a ball or a toy and repeat “stay.” If your pooch stays, you can release them to go get the toy with the ‘go’ or ‘take a break’ command. (Once they have really mastered the stay command, you can use this game to teach and reinforce ‘fetch,’ too.)
We have 8 other fun training games you can play with your pooch that will help you make sure he stays as sharp as a tack.
Just because training programs may be closed doesn’t mean you need to skimp on obedience training. Try out some of these tips and see how you do… is your dog a whiz at “leave it,” or does he need a bit more practice? Let us know in the comments below!