One of the primary reasons we enjoy running our dog training courses online is that pet owners work with their dogs in the comfort of their own home. Home dog training is not only convenient, but it is also more realistic than a training class or course at a training facility or “big box” pet store.
The vast majority of your interactions with your dog happens in your own home, so it is vitally important that you are comfortable training and working with your dog at home!
But let’s face it, it can be difficult working with your pet when you don’t have someone directly guiding you as you do in a group class. That’s why one of my favorite features as the Head of Behavior here at YourDogAcademy is our Ask The Trainer Program. It provides any pet owner the opportunity to get a bit more help that is directly tailored to their pet’s unique situation and needs.
The Top Three Considerations in Home Dog Training
When you are taking your home dog training into consideration, several different and equally important factors must be met. The first consideration is your actual home. Sure, you and your dog both have the best level of comfort in your home, but you must make sure you prepare the space before trying to jump into a training session.
Next, you must consider the downsides to home dog training and how you can mitigate them. The most common downside is actually the time and amount of training that you can do. You should ensure that you use moderation to prevent burnout, both for you and your dog!
Finally, the most important thing to remember about home dog training is that every interaction you have with your dog is part of your training journey… for better or worse! Don’t worry, I know that sounds intimidating but we will guide you on the best way to make sure you improve your dog’s behavior rather than degrade it!
Let’s start with the simplest consideration; preparing your home for a training session.
Preparing the Space
Training sessions require a bit of space to move and work with your pet. You don’t want yourself tripping over furniture or running your dog into a wall while you try to get them into position! That’s why the first step you must take in any training session is to make sure that your space is clear and prepared for you to work.
Remove any loose items such as shoes or dog toys that might be a tripping hazard, ensure you have plenty of room and shift light furniture if need be, and give the area a once-over for anything you might have overlooked.
The final consideration for preparing your training space is possibly the most important. Remove any distractions. Any children, spouses, roommates, buddies, or other pets who are not participating or quietly observing the training session should be removed from the area.
Your husband watching the game on the couch will certainly become a distraction if his team starts losing, even if he is not actively causing a distraction now.
Make sure you have plenty of room to work and ensure that any potential distractions have been removed, and you are ready to begin your training session!
However, no matter how excited you are to begin working with your dog, it’s important to remember that moderation is important for your pet’s wellbeing – and for yourself as well! Dogs, especially puppies or hyperactive dogs, can have incredibly short attention spans. This means that when your training sessions begin to top about five minutes or so their minds start to wander and they can eventually give up on the session altogether.
While that seems harmless enough, it’s actually hurting your training. This is particularly true if it occurs on multiple occasions. If you push your dog to the point of boredom and disinterest in most training sessions, they begin to associate training sessions in general with unpleasantly long and boring interactions. This can lead to your pup losing interest in training sessions even faster and not wanting to interact with you for training sessions!
Conversely, if you keep your training sessions short and entertaining your dog will always be left wanting more. When you end a training session on a positive note and your dog had a fun time, they’ll go into your next training session anticipating some fun learning. Essentially, it’s important for you to learn the difference between being a good teacher and a bad teacher!
Finally, you should also apply moderation to your food supply. Don’t feed full-sized training treats to your dog for every single behavior that they do! They’ll fill up and lose interest in your training session. (Unless you have a lab… they’re bottomless pits, then you do this to save some money!)
Instead, you should make sure you break or cut your treats up into smaller pieces. This keeps your dog from filling up too quickly, ingesting too many calories, and it keeps your treat supply from draining so fast. Behaviorally, you should also ensure that you are not reinforcing every single behavior.
Once your dog has already learned something, you want to variably reinforce to increase interest. We teach more about reinforcing this way in our Ultimate Barking Course!
When You’re Home, You’re Always Training
Our final consideration is potentially the most important of them all. When you are with your dog, even if you aren’t actively interacting with them, you can potentially be impacting their behavior based on your reactions. Whether your dog is doing something good like bringing you a toy or bad like barking at you for attention, your response to your dog can and absolutely will shape their behavior.
There are many different layers to this, as all of the behavior change will come from the motivation for your dog’s behavior. In our Ultimate Barking Course, we teach you how to find the motivation behind your dog’s barking so that you can react the right way to change their behavior. Everything that you do can potentially impact your pup’s behavior, so make sure you are impacting it in a positive fashion, not a negative one!