Success in training depends on many factors. Here are some of the guidelines we follow:
DOGS ARE BODY LANGUAGE COMMUNICATORS
Dogs use their bodies to communicate and they look to our bodies before they listen for language cues. Dogs learn hand signals more quickly than they learn verbal cues.
Keep the rules the same, whether inside or outside, with company or by yourself, in a formal teaching session or just hanging out.
REINFORCE WITH SOMETHING YOUR DOG ACTUALLY WANTS
Determine what reinforcers ignite your dog’s drives. Some dogs like food more than toys, some dogs live for toys. Petting might feel good to you, but how does your dog feel about it? Is your reinforcer something your dog will work hard to attain? Want to learn more about how dogs feel about being hugged? Read Patricia McConnell’s book The Other End of the Leash.
BE REALISTIC IN GOAL SETTING
Your shy dog can be trained to respond to cues, but might never become outgoing and confident in all settings. Your exuberant, high-energy dog can be trained to keep his feet on the floor during greetings, but may not become a calm couch potato. Trying to change your dog’s nature is stressful for both of you.
KNOW YOUR SUBJECT
The more you know about dogs, the better trainer you will be. A good book to help dispel common myths about dogs is DOGS: A Startling New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior and Evolution by Raymond Coppinger and Lorna Coppinger.