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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Was on a blog this morning and thought this would be good to talk about here.

When training our dogs we use motivation to teach them. Food. Toy. Ball. Various things to motivate the dog to do something and the motivating reward factor is food, toy, ball etc.

People train..and you see the dog start to look off, stop engaging with the handler, pull to go sniff, pull to go to a stranger.. and the trainer will say, "Oh he's bored."

Your dog is NOT bored. Your dog is unmotivated and YOU are bored. So what to do? I think the first thing is that before you start a training session you need a plan. You need to have a goal for that session. It should be one thing (and maybe one other thing as a secondary if need be). You plan how you are going to develop that one thing and then set a timer AND watch your dog.

If you are teaching a new thing, break out the clicker and food and have a hungry dog. Work for no more than 5 minutes. Then play for at least 2 minutes. Then go back to 5 more minutes of training and then go back to play and then you are DONE. At the end, I do not let my dog wander off or disengage with me. I stay active. I have to work to keep the dog focused on me. Ten minutes as outlined here can be too much for a young puppy or even an older dog that is untrained. Fine. Watch the dog. Is he about ready to quit? Is his enthusiasm notching down. QUIT THEN and next time QUIT before then!!

If you are building a foundation for a behavior already taught (such as heeling) then you need focus and to get focus you need motivation and to retain motivation you need to be active and interesting. You need to reward when the dog is focused and happy and "up" and you need to deliver the reward in an exciting way. Toss the food, Slam the ball on the ground next to the dog. Let the dog have the reward. Get the dog to drop the ball.. then kick it so the dog gets it right back and "out" is not always equated with losing the ball and back to 2 work! Keep the dog engaged and motivated and anticipating the delivery of the motivator (food, toy, ball etc.).

I see people training dogs and the dog starts out focused. The owner misses it, does not reward it.. and pretty soon the dog is no longer motivated.

Worse is the owner drilling the dog and the motivator itself becomes less interesting. The dog eats enough food so its not hungry.. the dog gets tired and toy is not as interesting and the handler cannot MAKE it more interesting at this point.

Train with a goal. Stop with the dog wanting more. Put the dog up (in a crate) immediately after training (I swear it helps). If all you get is 10 minutes, then that is all you get. Make those 10 minutes count by keeping the dog motivated and two things will happen: 1.) Your dog will get trained and 2.) Your relationship with your dog will improve.

Always end on a positive note with the dog wishing for more!!
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