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While you may think your pet has special super powers (“Super Sloppy Kisses Pup” or “The Marvelous Midnight Pouncer Kitty,” anyone?), the power of concentration is likely to be low on your pet’s list. It’s not a question of intelligence — even the smartest breeds have short attention spans compared to people.

Interestingly, studies have shown that dogs who have training sessions just one to two times a week showed better acquisition of new skills than dogs who were trained every day. Additionally, dogs who participated in just one training session a day fared better than those who were subjected to three training sessions in a row. This is certainly good news for those of us who think we are too busy to teach our old dogs new tricks!

Particularly with puppies or young dogs, you may think training is a full-time job, but marathon sessions aren’t going to help your little superhero learn faster — in fact, it might actually have the opposite effect!

Keep training sessions short — 15 minutes is a good general rule of thumb. But the key to effective training is to quit while you’re ahead. If you think your pet is getting frustrated, bored or distracted (“squirrel!”), it’s time to call it quits.

Of course, the exception to this rule is basic manners, which should be on your pet’s mind every day. Influence your pet’s manners by rewarding the behaviors you like (either with words of praise, pats or tiny treats) and
ignoring unacceptable behaviors.

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