Am I ready? 

Do not begin training when you’re angry, busy or poorly prepared. Ask yourself these questions always before you begin training. 

Do as follows:

Stage 1: Make a plan. What are you training and how? 

  • Plan the task
  • What needs to happen in order for me to press the clicker?
  • Where do you deliver the reward after clicking, and why there?
  • How do you get your dog to offer that specific behavior often enough to keep him excited about training? 
  • The plan can always be changed when you notice whether or not it works. The main thing is that you have a plan before the actual training begins. 

Stage 2: Test all the equipment used in training. 

  • Go through your equipment. Make sure you have everything you need and that everything works properly. 
  • Check to see if your clicker works and whether you can deliver treats to where you want them, without delay. 
  • Try out a few test runs in order to go through the performance mechanically, by clicking and delivering a treat to an imaginary dog. 
  • Adjust the equipment until you’re able to carry out your plan. 

Stage 3: Evaluate your environment. Can you manage it?

  • Examine the environment in order to evaluate its safety and possible distractions. 
  • Close doors that don’t need to be open, and remove outside distractions. 
  • If the training requires to have certain elements in the environment, organize to have them there now. 

Stage 4: Safety

  • Evaluate the whole layout from a risk management perspective: 
    • What do you do if something unexpected happens and the dog escapes? 
    • Which direction would he go? Are you then on his route? 
    • Remember that a dog is a dog and acts like a dog. If he were to defend himself, where would his teeth reach up to? This may seem like over-the-top carefulness, but most people get bit by their own family dog. 
  • A good position for a trainer is one where he or she can see everything that’s necessary and can get up and moving quickly. The trainer’s face cannot be too close to the dog. 

Stage 5: The right state of mind

The best state of mind for a trainer is calm and one that exudes safety. It is important to trust yourself, to be present, and to be able to respond to even small changes with great precision. Remove all distractions that keep you from reaching your best performance. As you get more experienced, it will become easier to adjust your own mind(set).