8 Ways to Make Training Sessions With Your Dog More Fun | Pupford
April 4th, 2023
Filed under Training
When you think of having fun with your dog, what do you think of?
Probably playing fetch in the park, walking a new trail, or meeting new doggy friends right? Probably not training sessions.
But what if we told you that training your dog can – and should – be a lot of fun.
If training your dog isn’t a super enjoyable task for either of you right now, don’t worry, we’ll guide you through how to change that. And if you already have a pretty good time during training sessions, stick around for ways to take it up a notch!
Before we get into it, let’s see where you’re at:
Whatever your answer is, you’re not alone! But we can help you move the needle towards a happier training routine for you and your dog.
WHY SHOULD TRAINING SESSIONS BE FUN?
While the goal of training your dog is to teach your dog a new skill or behavior, having fun while doing so is beneficial for your dog – and you.
Here are the top reasons why dog training sessions should be fun:
- You’re more likely to stay consistent. Are you really going to be consistent in doing something that’s not enjoyable? It’s so much easier to stick to a regular training schedule when it’s something to look forward to.
- Your dog will be more engaged. An engaged dog = an effective training session. Your dog is more likely to focus on their training if they are enjoying themselves in the process.
- It forms a positive association with training. Forming a positive association is key for training your dog. They’ll be more willing to learn new things and work through challenging training sessions if they know it will be an enjoyable experience in the end.
All in all, training sessions are more effective when they’re more fun, which is a win-win for you and your dog!
HOW TO MAKE YOUR TRAINING SESSIONS MORE FUN
So how can we make teaching and practicing behaviors more fun? Incorporate these tips into your training sessions:
Remember, the whole point is to have more fun! Keeping a happy demeanor during training sessions helps you enjoy it more, too. Plus, your dog can sense your mood and feed off your energy, so we want to keep it as upbeat as possible.
2. TRAIN WITH GAMES
Gamifying your training sessions helps your dog learn key behaviors without even realizing it – they think they’re just out having fun with you.
Think of your dog’s innate behaviors and instincts – any game that harnesses those to reward your dog for wanted behavior will be an effective training game.
3. USE POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT
Positive reinforcement training helps your dog form positive associations not only with certain behaviors, but with training itself.
4. TAKE SMALL STEPS
It’s no secret that you have more fun doing something when you’re doing it well. Giving your dog frequent opportunities for victory will keep them motivated and willing to put in the repetitions needed to master a behavior.
Taking things too fast can confuse and frustrate your dog. For example, if you’re trying to teach your dog how to use a potty bell, you want to make sure you spend plenty of time mastering the “touch” cue. Dedicate plenty of sessions to that alone – introducing the bell right away and moving too fast doesn’t set your dog up for success.
We want to see many, many successes in one step of training before moving on to the next!
5. KEEP TRAINING SESSIONS SHORT AND FOCUSED
Dogs, especially young dogs, and puppies can lose focus if training sessions last too long or bounce from behavior to behavior. Keep sessions short and focused on one task at a time.
It’s better to have six 10-minute sessions throughout the day that focuses on one task at a time than to work on three different behaviors in one 60-minute session per day.
If you do need to consolidate your training sessions, be sure to give your dog mental breaks if you see them losing focus, and to only focus on one behavior per day.
7. DON’T STRESS OVER SETBACKS
We’re not perfect, and neither are our dogs. Some training sessions will go great, and others not so much. If your dog struggles to grasp something during training, is getting distracted, or things just aren’t going to plan – laugh it off.
Things are bound to go awry now and then, it’s just part of the process. Not stressing over the mistakes is a great way to keep training fun and enjoyable, even on an off day.
P.S. if they are getting distracted, that’s a sign that the training has gone on too long. End the training on a positive note by asking them to perform a simple cue, then end it there.
8. LET EXPERTS GUIDE YOU
Go into training with a plan so you can focus in the moment on having fun with your dog. The has expert-led courses with videos, checklists, and cheat sheets to help you master behaviors from the basics like crate training to party tricks, and everything in between!
Expert help = a less stressful approach to training = more fun for you and your dog!
How else do you make training sessions fun? Share in the comments!