Effective Techniques to Improve K9 Training
K9 training is not one and the same as dog obedience training. There are a few differences, most notably that the former deals with law enforcement and protection work.
Despite this, some techniques can be applied to improve obedience training results – and the same is true for K9 training. In fact, many of the principles are identical.
Even if you’re not training your four-legged buddy to become a police or military working dog, they’ll still benefit from techniques used in K9 training. But this article won’t be talking about the basic skills required (like heel, sit, stay etc.), because those are well-covered in other places.
So what will you learn here?
We’ll talk about effective techniques to improve K9 training in order to get faster and better results. You’ll also learn how to fine-tune your techniques so that your dog responds even better to your commands.
1. The Plan
The first rule in dog training is to have a concrete plan. This means knowing what you’re trying to achieve and having a step-by-step guide on how to get there. Without this, you’ll be flying blind and will likely make little progress in training your dog.
Many dog owners fail in adopting K9 training strategies merely because they weren’t clear on what they should do from the get-go. You should read the K9 literature before you start the training process.
To get good results, you must have a plan and know precisely what needs to be done each day during the training process. Only then can you correct your dog’s mistakes and make sure they’re learning the desired behaviours.
2. The Right Timing
K9 training requires you to time your efforts correctly. If you’re not timing your commands and corrections properly, then they’ll be ineffective, and your dog won’t learn enough.
Incorrect timing also leads to confusion and frustration on the part of your pet. Dogs are intelligent animals and will quickly find that they’re being asked to do something that’s not possible – or that’s been asked too many times.
Timing is crucial for establishing dominance during training – as well as for ensuring your dog knows when it’s being praised. Get it wrong, and you’ll struggle to make any progress.
3. The Right Tone
Your tone of voice has a substantial impact when training your dog. It needs to be consistent, firm, and clear. This way, your dog will always know what you’re asking of them.
When dogs are unsure of what’s being asked, they’ll often become agitated and confused. This is the last thing you want during training, as it will only lead to further disobedience.
Professional K9 trainers use a specific tone of voice to get the best results. It’s dominant yet gentle and reassuring. You won’t be able to achieve this overnight, but with practice, you’ll be able to replicate the right tone for your dog.
4. The “Location” Factor
Dogs are very territorial creatures and will quickly learn who is in charge of their “turf.” This is why it’s important to train your dog in the same place, using the same commands.
If you keep changing the rules or asking your dog to do something in a location they’re not used to, they’ll quickly become confused and will start to ignore your commands.
Some self-proclaimed experts will tell you that dogs must be trained in multiple locations, and that’s true. However, this is only once they’ve learned the basic commands and can be relied upon to obey them no matter where they are.
5. Paying Attention
You won’t achieve great results if you fail to teach your furry friend how to pay attention. This is a common mistake among first-time trainers, who often think that their dog knows what’s being asked of them.
For your dog to learn anything, you must first get their attention. This is done by getting them to focus solely on you and ignoring everything else around them. Once they’ve mastered this, you can then start teaching them anything.
6. “Follow Me”
One of the first commands you should teach your dog is “follow me.” The idea is to use whatever gesture or sound you find comfortable and then train your dog to follow you without a leash.
The last thing any would-be K9 trainer wants to see is a dog that wanders off or gets distracted by something else. This can easily lead to disobedience and a lack of focus. Training your dog to “follow me” will help keep them close by and focused on what you’re doing. It’s an essential command that all dogs should know.
7. Relationship Building
Dogs are pack animals, and as such, they crave companionship. If they feel like they’re always being corrected or shouted at, they’ll quickly become resentful and uncooperative. This is one mistake that many pet owners make, thinking that shouting at their dogs will make them bend to their will. This is why it’s important to build a positive relationship with your pet during training.
Relationship building is one of the most important aspects of K9 training and should not be neglected. The fact is, dogs respond far better to positive reinforcement. They need to feel like they’re working in partnership with you, not against you.
8. The Premack Principle
The Premack principle is a behavioural theory that states, “the more probable a behaviour is, the more likely it is that a particular reinforcement will increase the occurrence of that behaviour.”
If you’re training your furry buddy to play fetch, for example, you must teach them that the way to chase the ball again (desired behaviour) is to bring the ball back to you.
9. Repetition Isn’t Always a Good Thing
One of the most common mistakes that novice trainers make is to think that repetition is key. That’s not always the case, as dogs can quickly become bored and uninterested if you keep drilling the same commands even if they’ve done well already. So when dogs do what they’re supposed to, reward them and move on to the next.
10. Make it Fun
Arguably the most undermined technique in any dog training is making it fun. If dogs aren’t enjoying themselves, they’re not going to want to put in the effort. It’s why you should always try and keep the training sessions short and varied, using different commands and games.
If you can make training an enjoyable experience for your furry friend, they’ll be more likely to obey and learn faster.
So, there you have it – the effective techniques to improve K9 training results. By following these guidelines, you’ll be well on your way to forging a stronger bond with your furry friend and teaching them the essential skills to be a well-behaved pet and member of the family.