Timing is Everything
By Michele Forto
Timing is everything! In dog training timing is of the essence. Whether you are praising, redirecting a drive, or correcting your dog. The timing involved is of the utmost importance. This is particularly the case when you are treat or clicker training. If your timing is off by just a second you may end up praising your dog for performing the wrong action. Or praising them for doing the wrong action because you were to slow in praising what you liked.
Taking on training on your own is quite a feat and you should get a pat on the back for this undertaking. Having a trainer can help immensely with timing alone. Your trainer is able to see where your timing is off and then make adjustments in your ability to react and viola you and your dog are communicating in sync and everything you have been working towards falls in to place.
I have observed too many times that handlers have a tendency to be compulsive in their training. Letting their frustrations lead their training sessions instead of giving their training session forethought and guidelines to follow. I have found that my clients who are compulsive do best by keeping a training journal and writing down how the dog performed as well as how they were feeling throughout the course of the training session. It shows them when their optimum training times are; for you it may be in the morning versus the afternoon or evening. Mornings just may be better for you and your dog. If working your dog at your optimum training time doesn’t work then I suggest breaking up the training routine to shorter sessions throughout the day so frustration does not build within you or your dog.
That being said, take one day off from training during your week and take a different day and throw out your training routine. Do something completely different and work in your training commands. For example, take your dog to the backyard turn on some music, get your dog’s ball and dance with your dog by luring him with his ball into moving around and performing basic commands like sit and down. Send him to fetch his ball, return into the “dance” routine. Do this for four songs or approximately 15 minutes – what a workout! You and your dog will have fun and build your bond and viola training success.
Talk with your trainer about your day off from training and how your dog behaved. Also talk with your trainer about your fun day and how your dog responded. This will help your trainer adjust your training routine for optimum progress and success. Even in basic obedience I will incorporate training styles from sport and service training to keep the routine fresh and fun for both my client and their dog.
Remember in training that giving a treat or clicking that clicker are just two ways of training and the most difficult when it comes to timing. Praising your dog with “good dog” or petting on the head can also have timing consequences. Keep your eye on your dog while training as this will help you develop better timing. Trainers make it look so easy; watch us, we rarely take our eyes off your dog when we make it look like magic!
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Michele Forto is the Denver Dog Training Examiner and also the business manager for Denver Dog Works and the co-host of the Dog Doctor Radio Show. Michele can be reached through her website at http://www.denverdogworks.com