Ten Dog Training Tips
You Can’t Live Without
Here are my top ten dog training tips.
Find out what motivates your dog.
This may seem obvious and it sort of is, but knowing what turns on your
dog gives you leverage in your training. Food is also an obvious choice
for motivation and for most dogs it works really well. But not all
dogs are motivated by food and there are instances that using food is
not a good choice or is cumbersome. Other motivators are prey drive (instinct to chase things), tugging toys, stopping a
training session, walking the dog.
- Is your dog healthy?
Some behavior problems are related to medical conditions and they
should be ruled out before starting a behavior modification program.
Starting one before your dog is evaluated by a veterinarian is like
putting the cart before the horse. Some medical problems that can
adversely affect your dog’s behavior are any kind of pain (growling) and
urinary or kidney stones (housebreaking).
- Most behavior problems can be lessened or completely solved by this
dog training tip. Just increasing the amount of exercise your dog gets
per day can do wonders to his disposition. A tired dog is a happy dog, I
always say. If you can increase the amount of exercise time by even 15
minutes, you will start to see a calmer dog.
- Use classic conditioning.
Sometimes it’s easy to get distracted and confused by all the
scientific words on positive reinforcement training or operant
conditioning. Good ol’ Pavlov and his drooling dogs got it right with
simplicity. I think humans tend to over-analyze things (me, included)
when the answer is simple.
- Try different dog training techniques.
Just because one way works for my dog, doesn’t mean it will work for
your dog. Keep exploring new methods until you find one that works for
your dog. Some dogs have a thick skin and don’t respond well to
punishments. Some dogs are so sensitive that even a dirty look will
send them cowering to the corner, even if it’s not directed at them!
- Use dog psychology
- learning about normal dog behaviors helps you to be the leader of the
pack. Horsemen use this same technique to learn about herd behavior
which helps them become a herd leader. Knowing how a dog pack functions
helps to anticipate behaviors and encourage the ones we like while
discouraging the ones we don’t like.
- Setting goals
- What are your training goals? Do you know how you want your dog to
behave? Does your dog need to perform a specific or complicated task,
such as retrieving clothing, a series of commands in order, or climbing a
ladder? These tasks can be broken up into small steps and training
sessions to achieve the final goal. Think about what you would like
your dog to do, write it down and break it down into smaller doable
- Naming your dog. If your dog’s
name sounds like a command, you can guarantee confusion. I had a dog in
one of my classes whose name was Sid. Whenever her owner would ask her
to “sit”, she would jump up and try to kiss her. The poor dog thought
that was what she was supposed to do when her name was called. We
decided not to use a verbal command for the sit command and instead used
a hand cue.
- Dog Temperament - This is the
general disposition of your dog. Some dogs are really high-strung,
meaning they have a lot of energy and are focused to the point of
obsession. Other dogs are calm, laid back, love everyone. Some are
fearful and shy. Some are grouchy and aggressive. Knowing your dog’s
temperament is helpful in developing your training program.
- Have fun!
This is my favorite dog training tip. If you or your dog are not
having fun, then training becomes pointless. If you find yourself
getting frustrated or if your dog seems to be confused, STOP! Quit
training and take and a breather. Try working on something new, like a
These are my top ten dog training tips to
help with your training routines. I hope that they help take your
training to the next level.
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