Training your dog is absolutely necessary when it comes to establishing a sense of communication and control between you and your canine. If you invest enough time and energy into dog training early on, your daily life is bound to go more smoothly in the long run.
While dog training can be challenging, it can also be an incredibly fun, rewarding experience for both you and your pooch. We’ve compiled some of our favorite dog training tips that can come in handy whether you’re teaching your dog basic commands or trying out some more elaborate tricks.
Tip #1: Set Realistic Expectations
If you’re expecting your puppy to learn how to hold his bladder for longer than physically possible, you’re bound to be disappointed; if you want your elderly pooch to run and jump through hoops, you may have to adjust your expectations.
Keep your dog’s history in mind, too. If he’s spent several years with the understanding that jumping on guests or begging for food at the dinner table is acceptable behavior, it’s going to take some time to unlearn those bad habits.
Tip #2: Learn Your Dog’s Body Language
Training sessions are a prime opportunity to strengthen the bond between you and your dog. Communication goes both ways, so it’s helpful to have a good understanding of your dog’s body language.
Pay attention to the things your dog is telling you through his body language. If he seems stressed or upset, it’s probably a good idea to wrap up your training session and try again later.
Tip #3: Minimize Distractions
Teaching your dog basic obedience requires focus from both you and your pup. Before you begin a training session, be sure to find a quiet, calm spot away from other people, pets, noises, or otherwise chaotic situations. This could be an empty room in your house, a secluded section of a park, or an unoccupied backyard, for example.
Tip #4: Show, Don’t Tell
Dogs don’t automatically understand commands or know the word “no.” Until your dog has a grasp on the meanings of basic words such as “sit,” “stay,” and “come,” you’ll have to rely on your own body language and hand gestures to show your pup what you want him to do.
Similarly, make sure to focus on what you want your dog to do—not what you don’t want him to do. For example: Instead of just telling him “no jumping” when visitors arrive, focus instead on teaching him to lie down or sit calmly until directed otherwise.
Tip #5: Keep Sessions Short and Sweet
Don’t drag out your training sessions for so long that you’re both exhausted and frustrated by the end. Instead, focus on short, regular training sessions where you introduce one new command or trick at a time.
Consistency is key. Dogs love the predictability of a routine, so try to schedule your training sessions for similar times each day—times when you know both you and your dog have the energy and ability to focus.
Tip #6: Use Training Treats
If you ask your dog, he’ll likely agree that treats are one of the most important parts of dog training! Positive reinforcement is crucial, and that tasty treat is a great form of both motivation and reward for your pooch.
When you reward your dog with a treat, do it quickly. If you wait too long, he may not know exactly which behavior is being rewarded.
Additionally, we recommend soft training treats that your dog can eat quickly. Otherwise, you and your dog may lose focus if you have to wait for him to finish chewing every time he earns a reward.
Tip #7: Catch Your Dog in the Act
It’s easy to call out our pets for their bad behavior (especially if it’s destructive), but it’s important to take note of their good behavior, too.
Training isn’t just limited to those focused training sessions—it’s an around-the-clock activity. Anytime you catch your dog doing something good, be sure to offer plenty of praise and pats, and maybe even a treat or two to let him know that he’s doing the right thing.
Tip #8: Be Patient
As a pet owner, patience and a positive attitude are critical. Even if it feels like you’re not making any progress, remember that your pup is still learning and that all dogs learn at different rates.
Don’t bother comparing your dog’s progress to anyone else… although if you are concerned for any reason, it never hurts to visit your vet to rule out any health issues.
Dogs can pick up on our emotions, so it’s important to maintain a positive attitude as you spend time together. If you’re getting upset, your dog will know and respond accordingly.
Tip #9: Provide Mental and Physical Stimulation
Bored dogs tend to be mischievous dogs (especially when they don’t know what to do with that excess energy), so keep your pup busy with puzzle feeders, puzzle toys, sensory enrichment, and plenty of walks and playtime.
Tip #10: End On a PAWsitive Note
Of course, don’t forget to have fun with your dog! Training is a great way to spend some quality time together, so don’t be afraid to enjoy a game of fetch or take the scenic route on your way to the park.
Whenever you teach your dog a new command or trick, it’s always a good idea to end the training session with something familiar. That way, you can end on a positive note with your dog feeling capable and proud of himself for a job well done.