Whether you’re new to dog training or not, there are things you should keep in mind. They will help you train your dog efficiently and keep you on track. It will also making training less frustrating.
Tips such as restricting freedom of the house or training when your dog is hungry. More on them in just a minute.
Some of these tips can be expanded upon and are flexible. They will be useful, especially when you stretch unknown territory. It’s super helpful to know what to look for. This will allow you approach any situation correctly.
Think of dog training like you’re raising a small child. You don’t want them getting into things they shouldn’t. This can be rooms, cleaning supplies, litter boxes and more. They need to be taught what is and isn’t allowed. Below are the 10 most useful tips you should know when training your dog.
1) Train Your Dog When They Are Hungry
When your dog is hungry, they will have extra motivation for food. This doesn’t mean you should starve your dog for days. That won’t properly incentivize them and is cruel. We’re referring to between meals or right before a meal. They don’t need to be starving in order to be trained, just hungry. This ensures that your dog will be properly motivated during training.
This ties into another useful tip we recommend later which is using high value treats. When your dog is hungry and you have a high value treat in front of it, they’ll go crazy for it. Another way to get your dog hungry is lot of exercise. This will get their metabolism up and running. This in turn will make them hungrier and calm them.
2) Provide Exercise and Mental Stimulation
Before beginning any training sessions, you should always exercise your dog. This gets all the extra energy out of them and keeps them calm. This is extremely important when it comes to focus. A dog who doesn’t focus or give you their attention won’t learn anything. You might as well have given a child a permanent marker unsupervised.
It’s also important to make the training stimulating and engaging. If you’re bored during training, odds are your dog is too. Choose training programs or techniques that combat this. Help your dog stay focused on the task and you will too. This will help your dog understand correct behavior with the command.
3) Restrict Freedom in the House or Outside
By restricting areas or rooms of your house, you build a stable environment. This helps protect your dog from unwanted spaces and keeps distractions small. If you leave your whole house wide open, they could have accidents. This tip is most useful when you either get a new puppy/dog or start training.
It’s helpful to set rules now as well. Rules such as are they allowed on furniture and your bed? If not, either block them off or teach the dog boundaries. Commit to these and never waiver. If one day you allow the unwanted behavior and the next you don’t, you could send mixed signals.
Another addition is setting boundaries during eating time. No one likes a beggar at your feet. Set a boundary and tell them out. You can even put dog beds at the edge so they have a place to lay nearby. Only allow them back in once you’re done eating.
4) Learn Dog Body Language
We cannot stress how important this is. It is their primary way they communicate with us. Dogs can only speak to us vocally, but their body language tells much more.
An example is a dog who is afraid or stressed out. They will have their tail tucked between their legs and lean away from you. If you get closer, they may start to growl or snap at you. These are all things you should watch for.
Another example is how your dog interacts with dogs. Are their hackles up, tail straight, and dead staring at the other dog? Or do they casually walk up, smell them, get to know them, and they’re off playing?
This is the one of the most useful tips you’ll need as it can prevent disaster. Learning to notice this type of behavior can prevent dog fights or worse.
5) Train With High Value Treats
We mentioned this tip earlier. High value treats can range from biscuits, hot dogs, chicken, beef, or any type of treat. It can take a bit to figure out which one your dog loves the most. We recommend getting a variety at first to find the right one. Once you find it, always use it.
Using high value treats is a great way to motivate your dog. The treats you use are specifically for training. Never give them outside of training time. This creates an idea of supply and demand. The supply is low and your dog will bring the demand. When you start using high value treats for everything, they lose their value.
Remember, during training you want your dog’s full attention. Make them want that treat so bad that they’ll work hard for it. They will do the rest for you.
6) Reinforce All Good Behaviors
During training, when your dog finally does the correct behavior, immediately reward it. Give lots of praise and a treat. This creates a positive environment for them to learn in. It’s like offering candy or ice-cream to a child. They will go bonkers for it.
Never give praise or treats for bad behavior. We prefer walking away, leaving the room, or ignoring them during this time. This will help them associate a lack of interest in them as punishment enough. When they are good, reward it. They will start to recognize that’s how they get your attention.
It’s important to reward even when out in public places. If you take your dog to the dog park, reward them for good socialization. Did they go potty on the grass? Reward them with lots of praise and a treat.
7) Catch Your Dog Being Good
Outside of training, if you ever see your dog do something correctly, praise them. This reinforces good behavior. Is your dog laying on their bed and not being destructive? Give them lots of praise. Tell them how good they are. See your dog interacting with the cat or other dog nicely? Reinforce that behavior right then and there.
This helps catch your dog off guard and feel like they are being good. Think of it as a random compliment off the street. “Hey, your hair looks pretty today.” You’d immediately feel a lot better and even say thank you. Your dog is no different.
Reinforcing all good behaviors also helps prevent bad behaviors. The dog will associate what they are doing as good and keep doing it.
8) Have Patience and Realistic Expectations
Just like humans, every dog is different. Each with their own personality. This means some dogs will learn very quickly while others take time. The type of breed and age also has an effect on retention. If you start out trying to train 5 different commands and once, you might fail. Starting out with one or two at a time is more efficient.
Training also takes a lot of time and patience. If you own a small dog, potty training can take as long as a few months. When compared to a large dog breed, it could take weeks.
You also get out what you put in. Are you training every day or once a week? Don’t expect your dog to be fully trained if you only do one training session.
9) Be Consistent and Create a Routine
Consistency is important when training your dog. Try scheduling training every day of a work week. Leave the weekends for free time and other things. A training session doesn’t have to be long either. A quick 15-minute period is enough to train your dog. It’s also recommended to keep sessions short to retain focus. If you train for longer periods, your dog may lose interest.
It’s also important to train in the same location. If you’re training in your house, use the same room. Eliminate all external distractions and be 1 on 1 with your dog. At first this may feel weird for the two of you. But it’s the best thing you can do. By creating this environment every time, you’ll get your dog in the right mindset for training.
10) Involve Everyone in Your House
If you live with other people, such as parents or significant other, they should be aware of the rules you set. They should also be aware of how you’re performing the training and what commands to use. This will help build a stable environment that doesn’t confuse your dog. Imagine learning the sit command for one word and not knowing how to sit with another.
Even if you don’t live with anyone, odds are you may have the occasional guest over. They should be aware of what is proper behavior too. They may want to feed your dog a snack or allow them up on the couch. As long as you keep them in the know, you won’t create any confusion for your dog.
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Seeking Professional Help Is A Good Thing
Sometimes we get overwhelmed or don’t know what we’re doing wrong. At this time, it is reasonable to seek out professional help. Dog trainers can provide a lot of guidance and suggestions. You can find some online or at your local pet stores.
You can also consult with your local veterinarian. They will be able to suggest one or two dog trainers that can help. However, always do your research on dog trainers. Not all dog trainers are the same.
Remember that in order to have a behaved dog, you must teach them these things. That includes teaching them that you have patience, commitment, and love. Dogs aren’t born with the ability to understand us. They are like a child and need to be taught these things.
We hope you found these 10 tips useful! If you knew of them, then you’re awesome! If you feel we’ve missed anything, please drop us a comment or share with us your training experiences.