Many dog owners seem to think that dog training comes naturally to dog owners. They think that if new parents can become successful, so can new dog owners succeed with dog training without help. Unfortunately, not everyone can become a successful dog trainer. Some people even have difficulty getting their dog to come when they’re called. Others have to deal with problems such as incessant barking and excessive aggression. If you are not as successful as you thought you might be and in spite all your efforts feel that both you and your dog aren’t achieving much of anything, then these 12 dog training tips will definitely help!
The key to dog training, whether you’re trying to learn how to train a puppy or an adult dog, is by winning a dog’s mind. You have to get them to regard you as the leader of their pack. That’s perhaps the most crucial step in order to succeed in any type of dog training.
Here are some tips that can help you out:
- Listen to your dog. This is the number one of our top dog training tips and one which surprisingly most new dog owners seem to pass by. Lots of owners complain that their dog doesn’t listen to them. But if dogs can talk, you can bet that lots of dogs will whine about owners who don’t listen to their dog either.Listening to your dog means trying to understand facial expressions and body language. When they’re relaxed, they’re happy. When they’re whining or growling, they’re obviously upset about something.This skill is especially useful when you’re learning how to potty train a puppy. You have to know when your puppy wants to go to the toilet, so you can lead or bring them to your designated toilet area right away!
- Be generous with your love and affection. The second in our dog training tips. Why scrimp on affection? Dogs thrive on these affectionate acts, especially when they regard you as their pack leader. It’s like a coveted sign of approval that everyone likes to get.You can show your love and affection in ways that your dog can easily understand. You can speak with a soft voice instead of shouting at them. You can rub their tummies or behind the ears. Giving them treats is also a welcome form of affection.When they’re doing something right, these signs of affection act as positive reinforcement. So when they behave like angels, treat them well and they’ll develop a habit of good behavior. This works well when you’re learning how to potty train a puppy or even when they’re just lying down calmly—it’s certainly better than many types of hyperactive and destructive behavior!
- Find out what he or she likes. Communication is certainly a very important component of our dog training tips and one aspect you should concentrate on. Dogs can be very individualistic about what they like. So when a dog likes a certain treat or toy, that doesn’t mean that another dog will also like that treat or toy.It’s easy enough to test what kind of treat tour dog will like. You can do an A/B test and set two different treats side by side. You can even learn a lot with a single treat. If your dog gobbles up a treat, then it’s likely that they love it. If they just sniff it and then disregard it, they’re showing their disdain for that treat.
- Explain what you want him or her to do. Dogs may be intelligent, but they’re not mind readers. So when you command them to sit, they won’t know right away what you mean. You have to explain what “sit” means. Usually, the explanation means demonstrating what you mean. So when you say “sit”, you should push down on their rump so they will actually sit. One helpful command is telling your dog “no”. You want to stop your puppy from chewing your shoes? Say “no” while you take the shoe away or you keep the dog away from the shoe. Another one of the top dog training tips focused on communication.
- Be consistent. It’s important that you’re consistent with your dog when try to train them. One way to remain consistent is to use the very same words when you command them to do something. Again, let’s use the “sit” example. You can use this word “sit” every time you want your dog to sit. This helps the dog associate the word with the act. Don’t interchange this word with another word like “down”. This will just confuse your dog. You have to understand that dogs don’t really have a clue about synonyms. They work by word association, so in fact you could even use the word “stand” if you want to associate it with the act of sitting. Again, you just have to be consistent, which means that you’ll need to say the word “stand” every time you want your dog to sit. Of course, using the word “stand” isn’t really recommended when you want your dog to associate the word with sitting down. That’s because it’s easy to forget and you’ll become inconsistent. Also, you may have other people in your household and they may use a different command word for sitting down. If you’re not the only person in the house, then you must all agree on what word to use for every command. And that that was the fifth of our top training tips.
- Be realistic in your expectation. Quite a few dog owners have unrealistic views on how quickly or how well a dog can learn. The truth of the matter is that some dogs are smarter. Also, even the smartest dogs may not learn as quickly as you would like. So you can’t teach proper behavior and expect changes overnight. It will take some time and lots of effort from you, and anything less is just too unrealistic. This is the 6th of our top dog training tips and it’s all about expectation. By setting realistic expectations, you also keep yourself from getting upset and frustrated. Your dog can pick up on these emotions, and they can become upset as well.
- You get what you reinforce rather than what you want. Dogs don’t just magically behave the way you want them to. That’s not the way this works. Instead, the behavior you get depends on what you reinforce. Most of the time, this means you use positive reinforcement to reward good behavior. You can then also use a stern voice as negative reinforcement to stop a dog from certain behaviors. A stern voice, however, is much different from shouting at the dog. It just means you need a different tone to differentiate from the happy voice you use when you praise them as part of the positive reinforcement. You don’t need dog training collars that can give shocks to act as negative reinforcement. As you can see our dog training tips are straightforward and simple enough to use.
- Play is important for dogs. There have been some studies that found a correlation between play and behavioral issues for dogs. Researchers have found that lack of play can lead to negative behavior such as disobedience, aggression, and anxiety. So it’s important for you and for the rest of the family to devote some time playing with the dog. This is perhaps the most fun of our top training tips. Dog toys can also help so that they can play around even when they’re alone.There are plenty of dog toys to choose from, but the most basic includes running and chasing each other, playing fetch, and tug of war. Some dogs like playing with Frisbees, while others enjoy getting into a pool or stream. You should take some time to discover what kind of games your dog likes, so that you can engage in their favorite play activities.By the way, lots of dogs around the world are overweight. Play can help as a form of exercise so that your dogs can be healthier.Play also works as a form of mental diversion for dogs. Like people, dogs can get bored and that can sometimes lead to activities that you don’t like. They may even become destructive simply because they’re bored out of their skull. You can relieve them of this problem simply by taking the time to play with your dog, or by giving your dog some toys that can help them pass the time.
- Food as a reward for good behavior. Treats work very well as a reward for good behavior. It’s one of the easiest of all our dog training tips. For one, it’s a very clear-cut sign of approval. There’s nothing ambiguous about it at all. That’s in stark contrast to other rewards like hugs or a pat on the head. Dogs can feel smothered and threatened by hugs, especially at first. A pat on the head may also be considered an act of dominance instead of affection.With treats, dogs know that they’ve done something right. A treat can be anything from a single dry biscuit to a whole piece of sausage. Again, once you find out what treat your dog prefers, you can use that treat as a reward for good behavior.Treats are also helpful as “directional” cues. You want your dog to come to you or to lie down? You can use treats to lure the dog to you or to the floor, because dogs are naturally attracted to the scent.
- Affection as a reward. You can also reward good behavior with lots of pats, cuddles, and high verbal praise. Be effusive and demonstrative. It’s important that you become the leader of the pack for your dog, but that doesn’t mean focusing on just dominance. It also means being the source of affectionate behavior on your part. Dogs love affectionate behavior, and that’s partly due to their social nature. It makes them happy when the pack leader—which is you, if that’s not yet clear by now—show that you approve of your dog. They live for these moments, and it acts as positive reinforcement. They’ll want you to give that kind of attention, which encourages them to behave well and become obedient to your commands. This one is probably the most obvious of our top training tips. So when your dog does something right, you don’t always need treats. Praise them a lot, and rub behind their ears or on their tummies. Use your happy voice too. Our 10th of our top dog training tips is all about love!
- Bribery vs. reward. Some people confuse the concept of rewarding a dog’s good behavior and bribing a dog into behaving better. These things aren’t one and the same thing, even though you can use a treat as both a reward or as a bribe. Rewards as great; bribes aren’t.The key difference when you use a treat is the timing of when you give it. Basically, if you need to provide the treat as part of the command, then it’s basically a bribe. The dog has associated the treat with the command, so if they don’t see the treat, then you’re not giving them the command to do something. However, if you give them the treat after the good behavior or act of obedience, it’s a reward. That’s how dogs learn. They’re more motivated to associate a command with an act because they get a treat when they get it right. You don’t even have to use a treat in perpetuity. At first you can give them a treat after obeying every time. Then you can dispense with a treat every other time, and gradually it can become once every 4 or 5 times. Eventually, it would be enough if you give them the “good boy!” praise when they do something right. That’s because they’ve been hardwired to obey when you give a particular command. Rewards are used to teach, but they’re no longer absolutely necessary when your dog has really learned something. That’s why in potty training you can reward a dog when they poop in the designated toilet area, but when they’re full grown this can become an everyday occurrence. A little tricky this one, but if you master our 11th dog training tips, you’ll be well on your way to have your dog trained to be exemplary.
- Freedom. It’s sad when you see a dog that’s permanently leashed or stuck in cage. The owners of these dogs argue that they need the freedom to move around, because if they don’t leash or cage their dogs then they’d have to be there constantly. What these owners don’t understand is that with proper dog training a dog can earn their freedom, and so can the owners. It’s true that at first it’s crucial that your pup’s movements are limited. You can do this by using a leash and by locking doors so they can’t get in. Crate training works the same way, though this can also be viewed as caging. But with proper training a dog can learn to act on their own so they don’t need a leash or a cage in your home. Everyone’s free. You’re free to relax at home while your dog can behave well so you don’t need to leash them constantly. We’re not saying that dog crating has not place in training, but our last of our dog training tips is to emphasize balance.
Sites like the Doggy Dan’s Online Dog Trainer are full of many more dog training tips, and you can learn a lot with the more structured video courses. Just be patient and learn these lessons while you also learn about your dog’s preferences. With the right dog training, your dog can learn to behave more properly!