Working with a balanced dog trainer is a great way to begin transforming your relationship with your dog into one that’s both strong and rewarding. But it’s just the beginning.
Dog training is a continuous process and owners who want their pets to find success need to be committed to taking an active and consistent role in training throughout the entirety of a dog’s life. That means assuming the role and responsibility of your dog’s personal trainer once the professional has laid the foundation.
What are the essential things an owner should do once their dog has returned home from training? We’ve broken down three of the most important and answered a few frequently asked questions that apply to each.
1) Do the at-home lessons and homework
When your dog has completed their sessions with a professional trainer, you’ll likely notice positive changes in their behavior. That’s obviously great but, even if your dog has made significant progress, that doesn’t mean you can skip additional at-home training lessons.
Many training companies, including Koru K9, assign post-training at-home lessons and homework to dog owners. These activities are designed not only to keep your dog on track with their training, but to teach owners how to become the type of advocate their dog needs to be successful. The additional training is as much for the owner as it is for the dog.
How long does it typically take to train a dog?
The short answer is that training needs to be a constant throughout a dog’s entire life. Think about it like this: as human beings, we’re always getting input from the environment around us and changing our behavior accordingly; the same is true of dogs. As your dog changes and adapts, it’s important that training is consistent in their lives and that you’re willing to adjust your behavior to help your dog succeed.
How many hours a day should you train your dog?
You don’t need to spend hours every day training your dog. Three 5–10-minute sessions throughout the day is an ideal amount of time to spend training your dog at home, but even 5-10 minutes once a day is better than nothing.
The best part is you can work dog training into your everyday life. For example, walks are a great time to work on training: pull over on the sidewalk and work on obedience for 5 to 10 minutes. Even while you’re eating a meal or watching TV, you can put your dog on a place command and teach them to be calm.
The most important part of daily training is sticking to it, which brings us to our next point.
2) Be consistent
After your dog completes training with a professional, it’s vital that you stay consistent with your at-home training – especially in the beginning – so that the rules, structures and boundaries your dog needs to build confidence remain in place and they avoid behavioral issues in the future. That starts with doing the homework your dog trainer assigns and following a schedule.
If you regress in how often you’re doing at-home training lessons or how committed you are to those lessons, your dog’s behavior is likely going to regress as well.
Will dog training only work if everyone involved is consistent?
If it’s just you and your dog, being accountable for your training consistency is easier. However, if you and your partner share responsibilities or if you have a family, it’s crucial that continued training is a collaborative process. If it’s not a team effort and only one or two people are committed, that’s setting the dog up to fail as they’ll get mixed signals from different directions.
Ultimately, everyone needs to think about what’s fair to the dog and be fully committed to setting them up for success.
Why does dog training fail?
In a lot of cases where dog training fails, it usually comes down to three reasons:
1) Trainers who promise quick, easy and effective results but can’t deliver – Don’t trust the “quick fix.” If it sounds too good to be true, it is.
2) Trainers who take on cases outside their area of expertise – Many dog trainers have particular specialties but sometimes take on dogs they shouldn’t.
3) Inconsistency in at-home training from dog owners – The majority of behavior issues and training failures stem from owners who aren’t consistently doing the work.
Why does dog training succeed?
Dog training succeeds most often when the owner is up to the task of doing the necessary work and making the changes in their own lives that a full commitment to their dog requires. When a dog owner is willing to put aside what they want and do what’s best for their dog, the training pays off in the most meaningful way.
3) Set realistic expectations
To get the most out of training once your dog comes home, you have to set realistic expectations for both your dog and for the training. If you’re partnering with the right trainer, these expectations will be set and laid out to you early in the process.
So, what should your expectations be? Here are four ways you can be better prepared to continue training with your dog.
Understand your dog’s personality and needs
This will help set you both up for success. Owners sometimes have unrealistic expectations of what their dog needs from training and the results may not always meet those expectations. When you’re willing to change your perspective about your dog’s needs and put in the work necessary to achieve what’s best for them, you both benefit in the long run.
Be ready for your dog to go through changes as they age
Your dog is a living being and their behavior, much like a human’s, is going to change as they age. This is often when owners can become frustrated and regress in their at-home training. However, if you’re ready to adapt and remain disciplined with your at-home training as your dog’s behavior changes, it will pay off.
Prepare yourself for the commitment of continued training
Back to consistency. Remaining dedicated to at-home training after your dog comes home is critical – training doesn’t “fix” your dog but instead lays the foundation for improving behavior. If you fail to keep up with your dog’s training after working with a professional, your dog will regress.
Be OK with the ups and downs of dog training
You’re going to make mistakes. Don’t be hard on yourself when it happens. If your dog has severe behavior issues, for example, there are often a lot of changes that come with training. It can be overwhelming so try to break down the work with your dog into manageable chunks, and don’t get discouraged by mistakes or missteps.
What should I expect from Board & Train dog training?
A board and train is a program when a dog is trained in the home of a trainer for a period ranging anywhere from 2-8 weeks. What owners should expect to get out of a program like this depends largely on the dog and how much time they’re willing to commit to.
Clear communication is the key. At Koru K9, we set those realistic expectations based on the dog’s needs once we’ve started working with them. Our trainers stay in constant contact with owners so they’re fully aware of how the training is progressing and what they’ll need to do once their dog returns home.
Koru K9 recommends at least three weeks for a board and train if a dog has mild behavior issues. For dogs who have more severe behavior issues, like severe aggression, it would likely require four weeks or more, depending on the dog. The longer a dog works with a professional trainer, the better off they’ll be and the more the owner will get out of it in the long run.
Is my dog too old for training?
We like to think it’s never too late to start training. If your dog is middle-aged, they’re not too old. You’ll likely have to do additional work to instill the training because their behaviors will be more ingrained but putting in that extra work is worth it – it will help your dog feel good and live their best life.