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Teaching Your Dog-Life Long Learning

Did you know that training your dog is a life long thing? Not only does it take time to teach them something new, you have to provide opportunities for your do to use what they have been taught throughout their lifetime. If you don't, your dog will loose the ability to do the things you have taught them.

There are four stages of learning to keep in mind when training your dog.

1. Acquisition: This is what many people think training their dog is all about. It is about the introduction of new information, skills, or even concepts. During this stage, your dog needs guidance, instruction and practice to being grasping what you wish them to learn.

2. Fluency: This is where things get tricky. Fluency is about developing increased speed, accuracy and confidence performing the skill. For example, your dog response more quickly to your cue, does not need a lure, or does not hesitate as if they are trying to figure out what you are asking. This stage is about applying the acquired knowledge or skill and demonstrating more competence.

3. Generalization: In the generalization stage, your dog starts to be able to perform acquired knowledge or skills outside of the original context. They understand that sit means sit regardless of where you are or what is going on around you. They are able to transfer what they have learned to new situations or different contexts.

4. Maintenance: The maintenance stage focuses on continuous practice, reinforcement, and review to prevent skill decay or knowledge loss. Maintenance is crucial to ensure long-term retention and prevent forgetting. You have to continue to practice with your dog to ensure that they do not loose what they have learned over time. Frequently, this happens while going through everyday life, but for those skills you don't need on a regular basis, it is important to work with them regularly.

So, training your dog is a life long pursuit. One that can be fun and enjoyable for both you and your dog. Be sure that you don't stop at the Acquisition stage. It is only by following through with all four stages of the learning process that you will have that dog that everyone sees and wishes that THEY had!

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