Dog training is more than teaching him a couple of tricks to make us happy. Proper dog training will stimulate the dog’s mind and improve the coexistence at home and the attitude in public.
Although it may seem overwhelming at first, actually training a dog in different areas can be a simple task as long as you are patient and do it correctly and consistently.
In this article, you will learn all about dog training, techniques, FAQs, and how to make it positive for your dog.
In this article, you will find all you need to know about various dog training exercises. To get more in-depth, we selected some of the best dog training books for you and made a top 10 list. If you already know what you need, here are the quick links to the books:
- Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution: The Complete Guide – Best Overall Dog Training Book
- The Art of Raising a Puppy – Best for Puppies
- How to Housebreaker Your Dog in 7 Days – Best for Potty Training
- Training Your Own Service Dog – Best for Assistance Dogs
- Puppy Training for Kids – Best for Kids
- 101 Dog Tricks: Step-by-Step Activities – Best for Dog Tricks
- The Beginner’s Guide to Dog Agility – Ideal for Agility Training
- Cultures clash by Jean Donaldson
- At the other end of the leash
- Don’t kill him, Teach him!
What is the best way to train a dog?
There are many different ways to train a dog. Most dog professionals agree that positive training is the best technique for both the dog and the trainer.
A 2019 study tested two types of training, one based on punishment and the other based on rewards.
The results found that punishment and force training made the dogs more stressed, violent, and aggressive.
The results show companion dogs trained using aversive-based methods experienced lower welfare when compared to companion dogs trained with reward-based methods. This happens at both the short- and long-term levels. The study shows that the welfare of companion dogs trained with aversive-based methods appears to be at risk. — Vieira de Castro et al.
Turn Your Dog into a Genius
Develop your dog’s “hidden intelligence” to eliminate bad behavior, and create the obedient, well-behaved pet of your dreams.
When a dog has been adequately socialized, your dog is easier to train.
According to the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, it can bring behavioral problems in the future. Dogs that are not properly socialized at an early age tend to fear new situations, resulting in behavior you wouldn’t like. This is one of the most important concepts to understand how to train a puppy. They will be the most open to a dog training socialization program.
It’s recommended to socialize puppies from 3 weeks to 4 months approximately. This is their most learning stage where they are more curious. This will help them feel more comfortable in any environment and situation.
1. Introduce him to new shapes, sounds, and smells.
For a puppy, the world is absolutely new, so you must expose him to interact with different places, noises, textures, etc. Also, let him walk on different floors such as wood, carpet, etc.
2. Introduce him to new people.
Show the puppy different people like friends, family, children, and the elderly and let him be handled and petted by them.
This will help the puppy not to see other people as a danger and his owner as the only trustworthy human.
3. Introduce him to new places
Your dog should feel comfortable everywhere. Not only in the house walking through different rooms, but also in parks, gardens, other houses, etc. This way, he will stop feeling insecure.
4. Introduce your dog to other animals.
Encourage his interaction with cats, dogs of other breeds and sizes, and perhaps some unusual animals. This will prevent the dog from developing fears or becoming aggressive towards other animal species.
Always keep him on a leash and be very attentive so that he gets used to them and has confidence.
To start training a dog, you must wait until he is at least 6 months old, being more advisable to let him reach one year of age before beginning with the training.
This can be more complex if the dog has phobias or bad behavior. In this case, the idea is to use positive reinforcement when he faces a different situation.
How do I control my dog’s bad behavior?
You must teach him to control his impulses and to be patient. Avoid physical punishment and reward his good behavior through positive reinforcement.
Also, you must analyze the dog’s behavior to detect what is the problem he suffers. Sometimes, you should consult a professional to tell you what is really happening to your dog and why he acts like that.
How do you discipline a dog that won’t listen?
This depends on each case. Yet, you must identify in which specific situations the dog does not obey and then analyze them. You will need professional help if the lack of obedience becomes a repetitive issue.
In short, analyze the dog’s motivation when he does what he should not do or ignores your orders.
Dogs find it more difficult to obey if the commands are not given at the right time. The execution must always take place after the command.
If you say the command just when it should be executed, you will not confuse them.
There are many training methods you can teach your dog to help the coexistence between him and his environment.
Choosing one will depend on your dog, but you can always start with basic training.
Basic dog training
This training consists of putting a series of specific behaviors at the disposal of a command that the dog can understand and follow.
The key to teaching basic obedience exercises easily is to use positive reinforcement. This method is about rewarding and stimulating the learning of skills and promoting obedience.
This way, your dog can improve his learning and socialization skills and strengthen his self-confidence. Here you can find a list of dog training courses.
You can train your dog!
You will need to have time and patience but, above all, the right knowledge about what you want your dog to learn. Try not to confuse your dog or demand too much from him.
This basic training will be very useful in different situations with your dog. To get your dog to follow the commands, you must be patient, persistent and repeat as many times as necessary, and have some rewards at hand.
To teach a command, use a short word and a gesture. This will be accompanied by a specific tone.
What are the seven basic dog training commands?
The following commands are elementary in the dog’s educational training. They are the basis for the dog to learn other tasks, and above all, they will be part of his daily behavior at home and outside.
This is one of the most basic commands. However, in this position, the dog will stay still, allowing you to better control him in any situation.
- Show a treat to your dog.
- Put him close to his nose so he can sniff it.
- Move the treat up slowly towards the back of the dog, passing over his head; this will instinctively make the dog sit.
- Once he is sitting, clearly say in a firm voice the command “Sit.”
- When he complies with the command, give him the treat.
- Repeat this step until the dog associates the command with the action.
Once the dog sits on command, you can teach him this one.
- Use the command “sit.”
- Offer him a treat and lower him to the ground so that the dog will lie down.
- Once the dog is lying down, say aloud the command “Down” and reward him.
The “Stay” command teaches your dog to stay calm at your side in any place and in any situation.
- Use the “sit” command.
- Show the dog the palm of your hand and say, “stay.”
- Take a few steps back, then come back and congratulate your dog for staying in his place.
- Repeat this step, moving a few steps further each time.
- If the dog comes up behind you, approach him and give him the command again.
This command works so that he comes to your call when needed.
- Put a treat in your hand and say out loud “come” or “come here” as soon as he arrives, give praise and sit him.
- Repeat the procedure, go to another place and increase the distance.
- Remove the rewards gradually and repeat the procedure until the dog associates the command.
Use this command to stop any inappropriate behavior your dog performs, such as barking, jumping on people, etc.
- In a situation where your dog behaves wrongly, use the command “off” in a firm voice.
- It should be used the moment your dog does something you don’t want so that he understands the situation.
- Once he calms down, reward him.
6. “Drop it”
Your dog will release any object in his mouth with this command, whether it is a ball, food, or a foreign object.
- When your dog has a toy or treat in his mouth, use the command “release.”
- Extend the palm of your hand so that he notices that we are asking him to return the object.
- Once he has complied, it’s important to immediately reward his action, so he knows he is a good dog.
With heel command, you train your dog to stop pulling on the leash and will walk with you quietly by your side.
- Walk with your dog down the street, and when he pulls the leash, give the command “stay.”
- Once you start walking, he should keep his position. If he doesn’t, repeat the command “stay.”
- When you start walking, say aloud “heel” and signal him to walk beside you.
- Repeat the process and reward him when he complies with the command.
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Dog Leash Training
If the “heel” command is not enough when walking your dog, perhaps the leash training method is useful for you.
This training consists of improving the dog’s confidence with the leash. The command gives you control and achieves effective behavior. Avoiding the dog to be carried away by his emotions.
With leash training, your dog will safely learn to walk by your side, making walks more enjoyable for both of you.
At what age should you start leash training?
You can start with leash training At 7 to 8 weeks. At this age, puppies like walking, are energetic, skilled, and learn quickly. However, if your dog is adopted, it is best to start as soon as he arrives home, no matter how old he is.
Leash training steps for your dog:
- Introduce your dog to the collar or harness. He must be familiar with the leash before you start walking; use a 2 – 3 meter leash that is not too tight for him.
- Choose the side you prefer your dog to walk on, left or right, to always give him the reward on that side until he gets used to walking in that direction.
- Start walking with your dog for a few minutes, and when he follows your commands correctly, reward him (it can be with treats or a toy). As he gets used to it, remove the rewards gradually.
- In case your dog pulls the leash, you have to stop walking. When the dog sees he doesn’t advance, then he will go back.
- Leash walks should be short, always looking for positive moments that create bonds with your dog.
- Encourage him to focus on you when you walk together, talk to him and make him feel that it is a positive experience to be walking with you.
How long does it take to leash train a dog?
Do not practice this exercise for too long. About five to 10 minutes a day, for two or three days, should be enough.
The time it takes for the dog to learn varies by dog and breed. Not everyone learns at the same pace. Some dogs may need a few weeks while others a couple of months.
Training with a clicker is a very common way to train dogs and reward their good behavior.
It consists of a small mechanical device that emits a “click” sound when a metal plate is pressed.
Does clicker training really work?
Absolutely. It is currently used as a tool to teach training techniques with positive reinforcement. It has been useful for training dogs in different areas such as obedience training, assistance dogs, anti-drug dogs, sport dogs, etc.
It is also used to train other animals such as dolphins, seals, horses, etc.
The originator of clicker dog training is Karen Pryor.
Karen is an expert in behavioral psychology and marine mammal biology.
For years, Pryor worked with dolphins and learned to use operant conditioning techniques to train them. When the animal does what’s, the handler blows a whistle and immediately throws a fish at it.
The goal is that every time the dog hears the “click,” he understands he has done something right, and a reward is coming. Since it is based on positive reinforcement.
For example, if we want to teach our dog to sit, the very moment he puts his butt on the floor, you will “click.”
How to train a dog with a clicker
- Take some treats, the clicker, and get ready to practice.
- Place the treat in one hand and the clicker in the other. Press the clicker, and when your dog turns at the sound, give him a treat.
- Repeat this action several times so that he relates the sound to something positive.
- When your dog understands the meaning of the click, then you can start training him.
As an example, we are going to teach him to sit using the clicker. These are the steps to follow:
- Hold the treat in front of his nose, but don’t give it to him yet. In your other hand, have the clicker ready.
- Say aloud “sit” and start lifting the treat as if you want to put it on his head. As the dog follows your movement with his eyes, his bottom starts to lower towards the ground.
- When your dog sits down, sound the clicker and give him the treat.
- Repeat the process until your dog associates the command “sit” with the action of sitting.
How do I start clicker training?
Both the owner and the dog must be in a relaxed state.
If the dog is full of energy or hyperactive, he is less likely to pay attention. It is best for the dog to have had his first walk or a play session in the park and then start the training.
How soon can you start clicker training?
Any age is the right age to start training your dog with a clicker. You can start from very young puppies or as soon as your new dog comes home.
House and Crate Training
Utilizes the dog’s natural instinct to seek out a safe den where he can go to sleep and relax as if your dog has his own room in the house.
Indeed The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal and other organizations compare the crates to dens
The dog crate gives dogs a sense of safety and security. It also helps them solve stress, anxiety, hyperactivity, fear, destructive feelings, etc.
How to make your dog learn to use his crate in simple steps:
1. Choose the type of dog crate: there are different types of crates on the market that can be adapted to your home and your pet’s characteristics. The most important thing is that the crate has enough space for the dog to stretch out and lie down in different ways.
2. Make the crate a pleasant place: make the crate his happy zone, place a blanket, some treats, his favorite toys, etc., inside the crate. This way, he will start to associate his crate with positive things.
3. Use a command: once the dog is familiar with the crate, you must teach him to go in on command.
- To give this command, you can help him with treats or a clicker, as explained above.
- With a treat or a toy, guide the dog to the crate until he enters. Once he is inside, say aloud “crate,” you can use any word you want, like “house” or “bed” if you prefer.
- Once the dog goes in, just click and reward.
- With the passage of repetitions, the dog will follow the command.
4. Let him inside the crate gradually: let him stay more time inside the crate and gradually increase the time inside the crate. Do not leave the dog in the crate for more than 8 hours, and never leave him locked up if you are away from home.
5. Do not force it: at the beginning of the training, your dog will refuse to enter. You will have to be patient. Otherwise, if you force him to be there, the dog will see the crate as a place of punishment.
Is crate training cruel?
No, dog crates are not cruel as long as they are used properly. If we use them correctly, the dog will come to see his crate as a den or as a refuge to go to when he wants to relax.
Is crate training the best way to potty train?
Many dog trainers, vets, and other pet professionals agree that crate training is hands-down the most effective way to potty train your dog.
Dog crate training can be very helpful in preventing urination accidents, especially at night.
Having your puppy sleep in a smaller space, with enough room to turn around but little room to eliminate, will help his body adapt to “hold it” longer at night.
Most dogs won’t eliminate where they eat or sleep. Dog crate training can also be beneficial for house training.
Once your dog knows how to stay in his crate, you can use his training to teach him house training.
This is a method of teaching your dog to “make its business” in a specific area. This also teaches dogs to hold the urge to go to the “bathroom” while they are in their crate; this reduces “accidents” so you won’t have to clean up messes.
“When they’re puppies, the crate really is the major tool that will help you house train” – says Heike Purdon for the American kennel club. “It teaches them that freedom is a privilege, and you get more space as their house training skills become better.”
What’s the difference between crate training and house training?
Crate training will set some limits when you are out of the house. Prevent him from eliminating on the carpet or in the room. For example, allow him to control his bladder until he can go out.
While house training is the method to make him go to the bathroom in the right places.
Get started with this book How to Housebreaker Your Dog in 7 Days the best advice for potty training.
How to use a crate for house training puppies?
When it comes to house training, you need to ensure that you can avoid potential accidents. Do this by watching him all the time and taking him out at regular intervals – set a timer every hour.
Also, by praising your furry friend every time he toilets in the correct place, it will be so much smoother, faster, and less frustrating for everyone.
- Use a treat with high value or the thing that motivates him. It’s also best to mix it up and give him a number of different treats to keep your dog entertained.
- Setting it up to succeed. Make it very clear where the bathroom is. For example, choose a particular corner of your garden as a toilet area.
- Maintain a regular feeding schedule.
- Always take the dog to his “bath” when he wakes up in the morning, after meals and naps, as well as at night before going to bed.
- If your dog does not defecate after a couple of minutes, wait a little longer and try again in 15 minutes.
- Do not scold him. Be patient when he defecates at the wrong place, whether he is a puppy or an adult, this is a routine that some dogs take longer to understand than others.
Experts recommend crating dogs from 12 – 16 weeks of age, as this is the time when they learn to control their bladder a little more.
It is possible in many cases that you should wait until the dog is comfortable going outdoors before starting with this training. For this, it is helpful that the dog goes through a stage of socialization first.
Dog Training: Proofing Behaviors
In the world of dog training, “proofing” means to test your dog’s good behavior in different environments and situations.
This is the final step after dog training. Because the main idea is that your dog will follow each of your commands successfully without falling into any kind of distractions.
You should know that dogs can understand certain concepts and commands but not in all environments.
How to proof your dog’s behavior.
Once your dog knows the house rules, signals, and basic obedience commands, it is time to increase the level of difficulty.
Practice in different environments.
- Take your dog to a park or a fairly busy place where there are people, other animals, different noises, etc. Give him a command and expect him to comply.
- Go a little further away than it is used to and give your dog a command.
- Make him comply with a command for longer than expected.
- Ask a family member or a friend to give him several commands. Hence, your dog learns to follow the command even if it has slight modifications.
- When your dog complies with the command without getting distracted for any reason, reward him, so he knows he has been doing a good job.
This type of testing is an ongoing process even if you think your dog is fully trained, so always seek to reinforce their skills.
Advanced dog training
Advanced training is the one that can be accessed once the dog knows the basic obedience commands.
With this training, you will have more control over the dog in any situation. While he will learn to perfectly execute different commands at a distance and off-leash.
At this level, you can remove some behavioral problems such as bothering people, barking non-stop, chasing other animals, etc.
Some of the commands the dog learns are:
- Distance control
- Off-leash tracking
- Jumping over obstacles
- Barking on command
- Fetch objects
- Ask for permission
- Touch or Target
With advanced training, you have to give those exercises more distance, time and stimulation, to get more out of training with your dog.
Dog agility training
Agility training is about teaching your dog to run through an obstacle course.
He must move between poles, go through tunnels, jump through rings, walk over ups and downs, etc.
You could do agility either for fun, practicing in the park or in your yard or in competitions; it’s up to you and your dog.
“The dog who negotiates the obstacles; the handler provides direction through the course using body motion, speed, hand and voice signals. The obstacles include different types of jumps, tunnels, pole obstacles, and ‘contact obstacles,’ which the dog climbs or runs over. Agility training is devised to use positive training methods and rewards so that your dog learns to love this game and work with you!” – says Agility Runners & Climbers (BARC)
When should a dog start agility training?
You can start as early as 4 months of age, but it is commonly between 1 -2 years. Even so, he can be practiced by adult dogs of all types.
Before starting, you should consult your veterinarian to ensure that your dog’s health permits this type of activity.
How do I teach my dog agility training?
You can start by teaching your dog easy tricks for both of you, such as simple jumps, going over the ramp, or avoiding obstacles.
Tunnel: It can be a rigid or canvas tunnel, both approximately 3 meters long or more. The dog must enter and run until he exits at the end of the tunnel. Place the dog at the start of the tunnel, get the dog’s attention with a treat, throw it in, then say the command “tunnel” when he goes to get it.
Ramp: The dog will go up one end and move towards the center of the obstacle shifting his weight until the other end goes down and touches the ground. Use a toy or treat to guide him along the route. Choose a command such as “climb” or “up.”
Weave Poles: these are a row of poles that your dog must weave around. This is a difficult obstacle. Plan for lots of practice sessions and repetition before your dog masters this skill. Teach your dog to go through the weave poles by placing the poles in two rows so that he first moves through the channel between the poles. Have him follow you by holding a treat in your hand and walking backward between the poles. Give him the command to “weave” as it does so.
Jump: For medium and large breed dogs, keep the bar an inch or two above the ground. For small dogs, you can start with the bar on the ground. Teach the jump by keeping your dog on a leash so he can’t go around an obstacle. Give a specific command for each jump, such as “big jump.” Approach the jump with energy, and usually, your dog will jump the obstacle.
Tire Jumps: This is a wheel suspended between 55 cm and 80 cm (depending on the category). The diameter is between 45 cm and 60 cm. It is an obstacle that requires precision as the dog must pass through the middle with a quick and clean jump.
What makes a good agility dog?
There are breeds of working dogs that are good at agility competitions. But any dog that is active, energetic, disciplined, and has a good bond with its owner can win a competition like this.
How much does dog training typically cost?
“I think costs vary widely based on where someone lives,” said Annie Grossman, senior dog trainer and co-owner at School for the Dogs
It depends on the trainer or dog obedience school. The type of training your dog needs and the level of difficulty are important as well.
However, an estimated cost is usually between $30 – $50 per class.
Check out a great book The Beginner’s Guide to Dog Agility ideal for learning about agility training.
Now you are ready for dog training!
Dog obedience is completely useful in everyday life. The number one goal of dog training is to achieve stable, happy dogs, control their emotions, and help them have good social skills.
Consistency and patience are two key elements when training your dog. Practice and repetition are also necessary to keep your dog’s attention and fix the learnings.
Although these practices will not be as demanding as the first sessions, they are important so that your dog does not forget what you taught him.
It is also necessary to increase the level of difficulty progressively so that the learning process is fluid.
The dog has more successes than failures and does not become demotivated during the training process.
This whole process is about communication and transmitting messages to our dog with our verbal – and non-verbal – language.
Spending hours doing exercises with our dogs will refine our communication. Dog training will improve our relationship with them.
Don’t learn from your own mistakes get the best dog training book Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution: The Complete Guide.
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