Wheaten Terriers are high-energy, clever, and stubborn dogs that make great companions, but you have to give them the right start. With their temperament, Wheaten Terriers can be challenging to train.
While it’s recommended to start a Wheaten puppy in obedience classes, here are some tips to ensure you and your puppy have success.
Before You Start: Here Is What You’ll Need
- Collar or harness and leash
- Clicker (optional)
Step-By-Step Guide on How to Train Your Wheaten Terrier
1. Use Positive Reinforcement
Most of the veterinary community and the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (ACVB) agree that humane, effective, and evidence-based training using positive reinforcement to encourage desirable behaviors is the best method of training1. Essentially, this focuses on rewarding good behavior instead of punishing bad behavior.
Though it seems simple, the concept of positive reinforcement can be challenging in practice. You may accidentally reward unwanted behavior in the process, which is why it’s best to start with professional training classes to learn the basics.
2. Find the Right Rewards
Many dogs are food-motivated, but not always. One dog may respond enthusiastically to anything edible, while another may prefer only “high-value” treats. Other dogs are simply not interested in food, so you may need to find other ways to reward them, like toys or affection.
3. Be Consistent
Consistency is key to effective training. You need to be consistent in your actions, commands, and cues when asking them to do something; otherwise, you may not get the desired results. In addition, everyone in your household who comes in contact with the dog will need to use the same sequence, commands, and rules. For example, if you don’t want your dog on the furniture, but your kids allow them on the couch, your dog won’t understand what’s being asked of them.
4. Keep It Short and Simple
Short training sessions that are repeated throughout the day are more effective than longer ones. Even five minutes can be helpful for training your dog, and it’s often easier for you to fit into a busy day. With longer sessions, both you and your dog are more likely to become frustrated or distracted.
5. Build Up Training
Training advanced tricks and behaviors doesn’t happen at once. These complex tasks are trained using small steps and building upon them. For example, if you’re training your dog to come to you (recall), you may need to reward small moves like taking a step toward you. Over time, these little steps add up.
6. Keep It Fun
Training should be a fun bonding experience for you and your dog. Keep it positive, and try to add some variety to avoid boredom for both you and your dog. Make sure to add some playtime into the mix so that it doesn’t feel too much like work.
7. Hold Your Patience
It’s easy to get caught up in the end goal of training, but you have to be patient. Praise your dog for the small wins every time. If your training is progressing and your dog is suddenly struggling, don’t be afraid to take a few steps back and rebuild the foundation before moving forward.
Training dogs—especially intelligent and stubborn dogs like Wheaten Terriers—is no easy feat. It takes a lot of discipline, patience, and small steps on both of your parts. While it’s best to work with a trainer for your Wheaten Terrier, especially if you’re new to dogs, these tips can help you stay the course and have successful training experiences.