That word is DASH.
It stands for Desire, Accuracy, Speed and Habitat. It's our mantra in training agility, but can be applied to any type of learning, really.
Today, I'm going to explain the first step - DESIRE. It means that before you can learn anything, the dog doing the learning has to WANT to learn. So it's up to the human to make that learning as fun, safe and rewarding as possible.
Mom has it easy with me. I will work for anything, anytime, for as long as she trains me. She says I'd work for a dirt clod as a treat. Well, she's right. But not every dog is as motivated to eat as I am. And not every dog likes treats best. So it's up to the trainer to find something that makes their dog really want to train.
It can be a hard treat, a smelly piece of fish, a tug toy, a throwing toy, and chasing toy, a good scratch or a hand-wrestling session. In our house, Arnie loves treats, but hard treats aren't the best. So mom uses softer treats for him. And he really likes when she talks to him while he's chomping. Levi loves any food (kind of like me). Snap likes to tug. Puck likes to chase the lazer pointer. So mom uses whatever turns us on.
DESIRE also has to do with being ready to do some training. So she makes sure that we've done our business, and if we've been napping that we are awake enough to think. Then she gets us revved up and ready to work. I'm always ready to go, but she warms Arnie up with lots of treats for hand touches and a few tricks. Kind of gets his brain in gear. And if your dog is easily distracted (Arnie again), your human has to start the training in a low-distraction place at first.
The cool thing is, the more you train, the more you DESIRE to train. It all gets wrapped up in the reward, and the next thing you know, your dog can't wait to train! I know I can't.