Introduction To Dog Training
Woof, woof, woof-woof, woof! This translates to, “Congratulations, you made it to The Ultimate Guide To Dog Training!” in dog language, of course.
Here you will learn an abundance of tips, tricks, advice; a dog training masterclass that will turn your disobedient and domesticated form of a wolf (aka dog) into an animal with better manners than the Royal Family.
Although I’m not sure you will be able to get your newly trained dog to sit on a throne and wear a crown, but if you do, then please, for the love of mankind, give that dog a well-deserved treat.
So, without further ado, let’s get into the ultimate guide to dog training! Make sure you have a pen and paper ready as you’ll be taking down some vital notes that will improve your dog’s obedience and overall manners in no time.
The Triple Threat: Timing, Consistency, and Motivation
Here we have a great structure known as ‘The Triple Threat,’ consisting of timing, consistency, and motivation. All are just as important as the other, but when combined as one, it becomes a recipe for success!
So what exactly is meant by the term ‘timing,’ and how should it be considered when training your dog? Well, it’s known that dogs have a short span of 1.3-seconds to instinctively act on a decision, which is critical to remember in dog training.
Any period after the 1.3-second window may cause some confusion for your dog; the more time they have to process something means more time for their mind to run wild with what is going on.
With that said, you have to be quick and extremely observant around your dog, so you can pick up on mistakes and praise-worthy moments while being able to react within this vital 1.3-second window.
This way, it doesn’t give them too much time to think. They feel as though they must respond to whatever has happened in this vital timespan, whether it’s a “good boy moment” or a “bad dog moment.”
Now, this one requires discipline from both the dog and the owner, and what I mean is that it’s easy to try new methods in your training phase. You go to the park and hear different tips from other dog-walkers, which causes you to try them all, right? Wrong.
This can confuse your dog as the pattern of commands is ever-changing. By doing this, your dog will never be able to adjust effectively and learn over time, as they simply do not know how to react to an array of different things all at once.
As the saying goes, “quality over quantity.” It’s a huge factor here as it’s about sheer consistency rather than a barrage of mind-juggling commands and actions.
If you don’t want your dog to jump up on you or your furniture, then you have to be consistent and not let them do it AT ALL. That is because if you allow your dog to do it every so often, they will perceive it as being okay to do so.
However, when they do it and you get angry, it causes them grave confusion. You may see them being disobedient or ill-mannered when it relies heavily on consistent reinforcement from the owner.
For example, you’ve had a great day at work and been given praise by your boss (yes, humans enjoy approval as much as dogs), so you go home and let your dog on the furniture for a change as you’re in a great mood.
The next day you go to work and find out they’ve given the vacant promotion to Gary, in the next cubicle, even after yesterday’s praise from the boss. You go home, sit down, and hey-presto your dog jumps on the furniture, but you get angry with it.
Remember, dogs do not speak our language. They act entirely on emotion and commands when it’s been reinforced over time, so without consistency, your dog has a greater chance of staying in a disobedient state.
To put it simply, motivation is a universal thing across the animal kingdom and the human one. We see something that we like or have a goal in mind, and it gives us the oomph that we need to achieve this outlined objective. This is no different for our beloved dogs.
When our dogs are doing well, we are supposed to praise and reward them for their efforts. It helps reinforce that those actions are correct and that they should continue to strive for this behavior on a more consistent basis to reap the benefits.
Not only should you repay their great behavior with a treat, but also when they’re able to correct a mistake. This will also highlight that the initial reaction they did was bad, and the correction was the right thing to do.
However, you have to find out what is most rewarding to your dog, as a simple ruffle of the head isn’t exactly a long-lasting perk. The reward has to be good enough in encouraging the dog to achieve it more frequently.
Not only this, but the communication element between you and your dog must be clear, concise, and above all else meaningful.
Another thing, if your dog doesn’t enjoy being cuddled, then don’t reward them with one when they do something good or make a correction. It has to be something they thoroughly enjoy, giving them the motivation to work towards it more often through their good behavior.
Four Stages of Learning
When you embark on your dog training journey, you will meet various challenges, and success won’t come overnight, so you must be committed to the cause if you want the best results possible for your pup.
It takes time, patience, and consistency to achieve obedience with your dog. As a rule of thumb, dogs usually need approximately three to six months of constant reinforcement and repetition before they start to form tendencies of well-mannered behavior for long-term success.
Here you will get to grips with the four stages of learning so you can gauge the overall process with a more in-depth understanding. This will help you when integrating daily training methods.
Acquisition – Showing
At this stage, the trainer should always have an idea of how they want the final result to look like when training for a specific objective. To help achieve this, we start with the showing phase. In short, it is a method where you will aid the dog in making the right decisions via visual aids and/or prompts in an environment that has no distractions.
To help show your dog what you want them to do, you need to ensure they are attentive to every move you make, so using aids such as walking leashes, dog treats, a favorite toy, or even your hands, is necessary for gaining your dog’s full attention.
For example, if you want your dog to lie down, you must give the “lie down” command once, then lead them into the wanted position. Once done successfully, they can be rewarded with a treat, so they’re aware what they did was good work.
It’s essential to note you shouldn’t expect your dog to understand what you want them to do right from the get-go, especially if they’ve never been shown this exercise before. Everyone has to learn somewhere with different forms of teaching, and dogs are no different.
When conducting the showing phase, you must use treats and rewards generously, so the dog is willing to listen and learn to get their well-earned prizes.
Also, this phase requires a large degree of patience and repetition, so when your dog begins to grasp what you want them to do without your helping hand, you can be assured that they’re moving in the right direction.
Automatic – Fluency
In the second stage, the dog gets to showcase his learning and what you have taught him over time. It should be a routine schedule packed with positive reinforcement for correct responses and more training if your dog struggles with the tasks at hand.
You must always be mindful of good timing, too; giving feedback quickly and early will enhance the dog’s fluency. It will increase the speed of their response to trained commands a lot more efficiently.
Once you have a valid success rate of around 80%, your dog should promptly move to the next stage, as they are responding well enough to proceed further.
However, suppose your dog still appears to experience bouts of confusion, scaredness, or is making mistakes more frequently due to not being receptive to trained commands. In that case, you must return to the teaching phase and ensure that they understand what is required before moving forward.
Another thing to mention is that when they respond well, you must start limiting body language prompts, for example, using your hand in a downward motion to get them to lie down.
In addition to this, you should also start using treats as rewards only, instead of using them for both rewards and baiting your dog into a command. This way, the dog will soon learn to reap the rewards of their good behavior.
Application – Generalization to the environment
It is where the learning gets interesting and slightly more complex but hey, who said success was easy, right?
The application stage is where you will begin to apply what you have learned under harder circumstances, such as performing exercises in environments that are riddled with potential distractions for your dog.
The idea is to generalize the environment for your dog, so performing acts, no matter where they are, should be deemed as a normal thing for them. With this in mind, they should only execute these exercises, not out of fun or for the prospect of a reward, but to understand there is a responsibility for them to act in this well-behaved manner at all times.
To do this, you must slowly implement distractions when conducting your chosen exercises. An example may be getting your dog to sit when they see somebody kicking a ball in the local field. Not only will this increase overall obedience, but it will also save you some money as you won’t need to replace 8-year old Timmy’s soccer ball your dog seems to burst every other week. It’s a win-win.
It’s vital to stay strict at this point and only give rewards and praise when you feel moments of the application stage are being met accordingly. Of course, stay on top of mild mistakes so the dog can understand what they have done and make a correction if needed.
With that said, if your dog is still finding it hard to grasp this stage, you may be moving ahead of time. Take it easy and go through the stages at a steady pace until progress is evident.
Always – Maintenance
You made it to the final stage; congrats! It was tough, but you got there, and we’re glad you made it. The final stage is probably the easiest. It’s like being 50m ahead of your opponent in the final moments of a 200m sprint. However, one trip can set you back 25m, so be wary and not get too complacent.
At this stage, your dog will perform their exercises consistently without the need for much, or any, type of prompt or aid as they are aware of what is expected of them despite their environment or circumstances.
But it doesn’t stop there. You also have a responsibility to maintain this behavior by dishing out reinforcement when specific behaviors are present. Keep on track, and remember it isn’t a sprint but a lifelong race.
Part 1: Fundamental Tips For Humans
In Part 1: Fundamental Tips for Humans, we will discuss some important topics that should help you to be more receptive as a trainer. We have included this element as being a trainer can be a difficult, frustrating job. Pay attention to these great tips and jot some ideas down when you feel like you read something that stands out to you.
Tips For Training
You like them, your dog likes them, everybody likes treats! However, how much should we give to our dog when it comes to treats? Well, depending on size and breed, it could differ, but as a general point of reference, the key is to give them treats that are small enough just so they get a little taste, yet it’s not exactly a small meal.
Also, if you find yourself handing out many treats in one day, this could be a sign that your dog is receptive to the rewarding system you have in place. He might be trying to impress you, or he could be a mastermind and do these things just to ensure he has a treat at all times; either way, it’s a win-win.
Although this is a good method to teach behavior, you should also refrain from giving treats away for nothing. At this point, your dog may start to expect it more often and could become restless if he/she doesn’t get their way. Do not, and I repeat, do not give treats away for free!
As a trainer, you are always thinking, and if you’re not, well, you definitely should be. The idea is to think about how you want your dog to act instead of how you want them not to. If they do something wrong, then tell them it’s bad, and vice versa, if they do something good, reward them for it.
It’s essential to know that all good things from your dog are a byproduct of your teaching and competencies. By thinking and anticipating your dog’s acts, it can significantly improve the likelihood of the desired behavior you want them to act like. Be assertive, consistent, and above all else, a loving companion.
Long Is Wrong and Short Is Sweet
Now think about this one, imagine you being run into the ground for hours upon hours a day until you’re exhausted and bored? Well, it’s no different for your furry friend – except their attention span is about one-tenth of yours.
This means when training, you have to be concise and ensure progress is being made within these smaller stints. The general idea is to train in 5-minutes intervals, at least three times a day, to ensure your dog is learning how to be disciplined and improve.
With this said, even if you happen to complete 5 mins of training three times a day, you must be aware that you are constantly training your dog whenever you are responding to their behavior.
They jump on the furniture, and you say, “DOWN!”—that’s training. They nibble on your smelly toes, and you say, “NO!”—that’s also training. They sit on your toilet and read the Daily Dog, and you say, “Please use the garden outside.”—yep, that’s training too.
Groom To Avoid Doom
This is an underrated one for me; many dog owners seem to forget how important grooming their dog is. Now, it’s essential to ensure your dog is well looked after by providing them with the necessary clean and care they deserve. Just because you may be scruffy doesn’t mean your dog has to suffer too.
You should clean their teeth, at the very minimum, several times a week and ears once every seven days. Please bear in mind that different dogs have different sensibilities and always use pet-related items that a vet has preferably certified.
Giving them a thorough bath wouldn’t go amiss either, ideally once every three months would be fine, but no less than this. Of course, this also depends on what breed of dog you have, so consult with a vet before making these kinds of decisions. If you have a dog that molts, I would advise giving them a good brush every day or so and maybe a trip to the doggy barbers every few months, so their coat gets the treatment it deserves.
Strategies To Fix a Naughty Pup
Prevent The Event
One thing to consider as humans is avoiding problems for your dog before they even happen. Now, the likelihood of preventing every problem before it comes to fruition is very, very low. Unless, of course, your name is Cesar Millan, or better yet, you have a mystic ball. Both, again, are very unlikely.
However, we can put things in place to limit the number of problems before they arise by implementing careful strategies your dog will recognize over time if done correctly. Many of these problems stem from generic social issues and common living environments such as: trimming nails, walking by busy streets, or even stumbling across the mailman now and then.
To combat such examples, you need to teach your pup that these situations aren’t scary and are a part of their everyday dog life. Implementing treats, gifts, and love at certain times will help them get used to such events in no time!
But let’s not forget one crucial ingredient—communication. For me, communication is the most essential skill in all walks of life. It’s what helps humans and animals collectively understand one another.
By using communication to teach your dog that calmness is a behavior well rewarded, you will be able to prevent problems before they present themselves.
Keeping your dog’s surroundings and environment convenient for them is an important aspect too. They need to be challenged accordingly while also being able to socialize with other dogs. This shows them quickly what normal behavior should be like under these circumstances, especially when they’re being corrected.
Em’bark’ing On A Solution
If you ask what are the most common problems with dog owners and their companions, the chances are they will always be a list of likewise problems such as; pulling, barking, nipping, not using the toilet in the right places. This is entirely normal and should be expected early on as these issues are embedded in our dog’s DNA.
Dog’s aren’t born trained, but you can find out how smart they are if you teach them correctly. Over time, they have to be taught how to act under specific events to help develop their obedience. With this said, here are some vital steps to consider when looking for solutions to bad behavior and why your dog may be acting the way they are:
- Firstly, let’s look at their environment and health. Are they getting the exercise they need? Do they have a good sleep pattern? Is their diet sufficient? Are there any medical issues?
We must consider all aspects of our dog’s life. If any of these examples aren’t ticked, we must consider them to be a cause of their inappropriate behavior until proven otherwise.
- Avoid incoming misbehavior until you’ve had time to teach them proper obedience. Try and anticipate oncoming misbehavior and attempt to avoid things that encourage them to act out. It may seem complicated, but when you pay close attention, you will start to realize certain things may provoke your pup.
- Ensure you aren’t accidentally handing out rewards left, right, and center, as this could indirectly influence your dog in thinking certain things are rewards when they aren’t. If they are acting out, simply place them into a 5-minute break where they have time to compose themselves again.
- Try and give rewards in place of misbehaving tendencies. For example, attempt to teach your dog to sit when they’re barking for attention. This is when you should be asking your dog to perform the action you want to promote good habits instead of bad ones..
To cement this method into your dog’s daily obedience, you must show that the reward they receive is more worthwhile than the misbehaving act they are putting forth.
- Routinely practice the behaving substitute that has taken the place of the misbehaving actions. Ensure you provide rewards for correctness, but ignore errors and start with challenges easy to grasp before implementing ones more complex over time.
- If fear is why your dog is acting out, you must couple the things they’re scared of with something they love and get excited about. For example, your dog gets scared by the milkman, quickly teach them that his visit is rewarded with a treat or toy. By doing this, it will eventually condition them to look forward to seeing the milkman as they know they will be treated for it.
- Be loving, compromising, and patient.
Turning Your Dog Into a Social Butterfly
Socializing your dog is vital as it can be a prime factor in their behavioral development. Here are some great tips to consider when looking to turn your dog into the most popular canine in the park.
This doesn’t mean only young pups will benefit from socializing; on the contrary, all dogs will see big improvements from it, but it’s easier to help implement with a younger dog than an older one. This is because younger dogs, or animals in general, for that matter, are more receptive to absorbing new information and events.
Once they develop and age, they quickly become more alert around things that appear to be unfamiliar. The pinnacle age to integrate socialization is typically between three and 16 weeks old, so bear this in mind when starting early.
The general objective is to create a positive attitude towards as many new encounters and experiences as possible. Encourage your dog to listen and be around things that are usually loud and initially off-putting for them, such as vacuums, cars, planes, lawnmowers, etc.
Allow your dog to try out different textures on surfaces like grass, sidewalks, sand, and mud, so it becomes familiar instead of something new and scary. The same goes with smells, too; the more, the better!
Of course, you shouldn’t take your pup for walks until they’ve had their vaccinations. Still, you can implement alternatives like putting your puppy in a stroller, so it can experience its surroundings before taking its first steps outside. Yes, I know this may be quite Paris Hilton-esque, but it’s a method that works and works well.
Meeting New People
For all dog owners out there, this one is always a cautious topic as we never truly know how our dogs will react when they meet new people. Whether it’s a rage-fuelled bark or a rapid wag of the tail, sometimes we just have to test the waters first and foremost.
A way to ease them into meeting new faces and bigger groups of people is, like always, to start slow and gradually allow them to see more and different people, the better they respond. It’s always a great starting point to trial this with family, as they will be the ones to see your dog the most. It’s only right to make them familiar with those faces.
Once they’ve nailed that, you can take it to the next level by going to the park and letting individuals, or friends they’ve never met, give them the love they deserve.
To make this a success, I would also advise introducing your dog to people who have different appearances too. They may have never seen somebody wearing a hat, and the second they will see one, it could send them into an uncomfortable state.
Rewards Are a Dog’s Best Friend
Remember, the world is a huge and scary place for us humans, so imagine how your dog must feel. With this in mind, you should always, and I mean ALWAYS, remember to give them lots of love, treats, and praise as they start to discover new experiences.
By doing this, you are associating new experiences as being positive, so, by nature, your dog should recognize this pattern and continue to do so to get some well-deserved rewards.
Before sending your pup on their way to puppy school, not only should you hold back those tears, but you need to ensure they’ve started their vaccinations, as they will be mixing with lots of other dogs from different households.
Puppy school is a great way to help your dog learn the basic training methods via specific commands. The schools are designed to assist your dog with learning commands and socialize with more dogs and more people. It’s a double-whammy!
The World Is Your Oyster
As soon as your pup has a sense of familiarity around its usual surroundings and groups of people, it’s time to make “the leap of faith” and start introducing it to newer, more adventurous environments that have larger groups of people.
As soon as they’ve completed their vaccination stages, you can finally start making some new and hopefully long-lasting puppy friends at the local doggy park!
Part 2: Fundamental Tips For Teaching Your Dog
Right, we’ve finally covered some fundamental tips for us humans. Now, it’s time to take some dog-friendly notes down for teaching our much-beloved canines!
Name recognition, initially, isn’t as bad as you may think. It’s probably the first thing your dog will learn themselves.
After hours, days, or even weeks of deciding what insanely cool, yet different to everyone else’s, dog name to give them, you will repeat it relentlessly to make sure they become familiar almost immediately.
As always, to begin any learning process, dogs must be in an environment where it’s peaceful, with no distractions that can cause them to veer off the task at hand. Once they have more of a foothold, or paw-hold, on their name, you can start to implement noisier environments, so they become more accustomed.
The Harder You Practice, The Luckier You Get
There was once an old saying, from a famous golfer by the name of Gary Player, which was “The harder I practice, the luckier I get.” It always resonated with me, not only because I’m a huge golf fan but also because it’s a very wise saying when you further dissect it. It tells us that the more we practice something, the better we get at it. I’m sure it can be relevant to everything and anything we do in life.
So why have I linked golf with name recognition training for a dog? It’s simple, the more you practice name recognition, the better your dog will become!
A great way to practice this with your dog is using their name at least 10 times per day while standing between two to six feet away from them. When your dog looks at you after hearing their name, reward this behavior with a treat or lots of praise. This incentive is what drives dogs to learn quicker and better.
Ensure you do not offer a reward for anything other than making eye contact with you when you say their name. It’s important to be strict at this point and only offer a treat or praise when the objective has been achieved.
Be mindful that they may do things such as sit or lie down, but you must not reward them in this instance as they must distinguish the difference from commands to name recognition.
The Name Game
- Start in an environment that limits distractions but is also familiar to your dog. A place of playfulness.
- Throw a piece of their daily food, or a treat, around one meter away from where they are.
- Once they finish eating this small piece of food, naturally, they should turn back with those puppy dog eyes that are saying, “Really? Is that it?”. This is where you offer them another treat for looking back.
- When your dog is turning back frequently, it is the moment you begin to say their name just before they turn around and offer another reward.
- Make it fun and playful! An idea is to leave a treat on the floor, and as soon as they’ve devoured it, as they so often do, you quickly say their name, run backward, and when they follow, you can then reward them with a treat or praise.
- Finally, repeat the process a few times a day, and they will get to know their name in no time!
Loose Leash Walking and Heeling
Effectiveness of Loose Leash Walking
When we take our dogs for a walk, it helps provide them with the daily exercise they need, and in most cases, it also gives us that much-needed exercise too. Additionally, walks are also great for socializing and meeting the mental needs that dogs carry.
Suppose your dog isn’t meeting its physical expectations. In that case, you can expect a lot of disruption, which can be projected in various ways such as destructiveness, going through garbage, hyperactiveness, attention-seeking behavior, episodes of barking, and the list goes on.
Why Do Dogs Pull and Chase?
In short, there’s no particular reason why dogs pull and chase; it is due to various factors. Dogs that are typically more excited and playful tend to pull their owners down the street while gravitating towards things that appeal to them or make them curious.
Now, when you attempt to pull backward in hopes of restraining your dog, they will usually counteract this action by pulling with more intensity, as most dogs tend to fight against this type of pressure.
Certain dogs with specific characteristics will pull differently, too. Dogs that are more forceful and aggressive to things such as children, other dogs, cyclists, or runners, will usually pull forward to chase down their target. On the other hand, dogs that can be rather timid and worried to leave home may pull forward on their way back home instead of during the walk.
The general objective for using the “walking on a loose leash” exercise is to teach your dog how to pay attention to you instead of other factors causing them to pull hard. Ideally, like a finely tuned outcome, your dog will very rarely pull on your leash, no matter what distraction is forced upon them, and will stay on a loose leash as they walk beside you. This won’t come easy, and it relies on consistent training, so be ready to put the work in!
Ditch The Tight Leash
Consider a tight leash as a vacuum cleaner. Yes, this is a strange analogy but hear me out first. When we use a vacuum cleaner, and the wire is loose, it works perfectly fine and can freely suck up any dirt. However, when we try to take the vacuum too far around the house, and the lead isn’t long enough, it then becomes tight, and before you know it, the plug has fallen from the socket—the vacuum is unable to do its job. A tight leash acts in a very similar way.
A tight leash prevents dogs from learning freely and halts them from making key decisions on their own, which of course, is essential for a dog learning the ropes. Loose leashes are also an important prerequisite for off-leash progression. Be mindful of this if you eventually want your dog to wander freely off their leash while trusting them to do so.
Accomplishing Walking on a Loose Leash
Like with any great results, accomplishment requires dedication and consistency. Learning to walk on a loose leash is certainly no exception. Here are a few steps to consider trying out when training your dog to walk gracefully on a loose leash:
- Firstly, loosen that leash and do so with confidence.
- Hold the end of your leash in one hand while gripping the handle with your opposite hand at around two to three feet.
- When your dog becomes preoccupied with a distraction and starts to pull, call their name and walk in the opposing path of the distraction.
- Your dog will turn around and wonder what you’re doing and why you aren’t paying them the usual attention by tightening the leash. This is when you implement the reward system so that they can associate this act as good behavior.
- As this happens more frequently, your dog will soon realize that they will earn a reward if they can avoid the typical distractions. This is where consistency will matter most.
- Finally, your dog now knows he must pay you attention instead of the other way around. That should stop with tight leashes and drastic pulling.
- To progress this even further, you can start replacing his name with commands such as “here,” “come,” or “to me.”
The Three Top Commandments: Sit, Down, and Place
Before we get down and dirty, you should ensure you have a clicker and some rewards at the ready. Especially the rewards—you’re going to need them. A lot of them.
Anyway, a clicker is a brilliant piece of equipment that every dog owner should be using during training. It is a small device that lets out a short, distinctive “click” sound which tells your dog they’re doing the right thing. When you couple this with eye-bulging incentives, it becomes an effective means of training, and your dog should learn in no time. Clicker training doesn’t have to be used just for a specific command but across all types of exercise that require instruction of some sort.
The sit command is fairly straightforward in terms of the objective, but it’s more how to implement a process to achieve the goal that matters most.
With that said, it doesn’t mean the results come as easy as understanding the task itself. Nevertheless, if you stick to the following information, you’ll have your pup sitting with ease in no time.
Teaching The Sit Command
First and foremost, you need to ensure your dog is on your left-hand side as you hold your loose leash in the opposite hand, accompanied by a treat or piece of their favorite food.
Secondly, you instruct the all-important command, for example, “Busta, sit,” before guiding the dog up towards their treat in your right hand.
While this is happening, you should be simultaneously guiding your dog’s butt downwards to the floor. As soon as contact is made, you must provide all the love and praise they crave and desire. Kind of like a small celebration in your dog’s honor. Don’t worry; you won’t be the first.
Be mindful that those are early stages, so don’t expect too much too soon, or as they say, “Bite off more than you can chew”. All we’re looking for at this stage is to get your dog to place his butt on the ground. When they achieve this, you can release them right away.
Sit and Stay, What’s The Difference?
The answer? Not an awful lot.
Stay, in a way, is a progression for the sit command. To initiate the staying phase, you must ensure your dog is ready in the sit position. Following this, you promptly issue a “sit” command from two steps away before taking a step forward, towards the front of your dog, with one foot and retreating immediately with one step back.
Repeat the sit command once again, but this time you will pivot, without breaking a bone, directly in front of your dog. At this point, just ensure you have your leash and hand at the ready in case they break their position, and you can revert them to where they originally were.
Timing has to be impeccable. As we mentioned before, you have a 1.3-second window to make the desired command so they can register what is going on without any distraction.
Not only is timing important here, but so is consistency. If your dog is breaking the command one after another without proper reinforcement, how on earth will they know what you want them to do? It could be just as annoying for them as it is for you.
They will only know that sit also means stay if you are consistent with the exercise, and before you know it, you’ll be getting them to stay from 10 feet away.
However, let’s not sprint before we can crawl. To get to this stage, it takes a lot of training and progression, so be prepared to put the work in.
From a Distance – Sit
Once you get to a competent stage, you will start performing the exercise under harder constraints such as leaving your leash on the floor or going further away in distance. When doing so, you must be extra careful with the 1.3-second rule; this will apply more than ever here.
If your dog happens to break the exercise, you will quickly intervene by saying something like, “No, no, no” or “Wrong” before walking back to them and starting them in their position before the break.
Let’s Go Downtown!
Teaching the down command has striking similarities to the sit command. However, the only notable difference is the change in direction of the guidance you’re giving.
Additionally, the down command is a little more challenging due to the nature of the act being a more submissive action. That can cause dogs to become restless and potentially resist. Don’t let this scare you, though, as all good things come to those that wait.
Teaching The Down Command
Firstly, your dog must be in a sitting position before all else. Then, you say your “Down” command while visually showing them what it is you mean.
To do this, I advise grasping the leash with a treat in one hand, around 6-8 inches from their mouth, before gently utilizing it to guide them down to the ground.
At the same time, your other hand will be placed on the dog’s shoulders to assist them in carefully placing them down. As soon as your dog hits the deck, you do what they love most – lots of praise, lots of love, and lots of treats!
Stay and Down, What’s The Difference?
Stay is a staple aspect amongst most commands, as we want our dogs to achieve an objective and stay there.
To teach the aspect of stay in the down command, you must ensure they are already in the down position before anything else. Next, you must repeat your down command before taking a step towards your dog and then a step back, exactly like the sit command. Again, once this has been achieved, we must use the almighty, yet dangerous (to some), pivot right in front of your dog.
Remember, you must have your leash at the ready, just in case they choose to break the exercise, so you’re able to put them back into position. Do not forget the 1.3-second rule! This applies to pretty much every time a dog needs to think and act on a specific command.
From a Distance – Down
The same applies here to the sit command. You must perform this exercise like a set of stepping stones that lead to a pot of gold. You must be sure you can make the next step without falling off track, or you will lose the objective at hand.
If your dog breaks the exercise once you start implementing it from afar, you will say, “No, no, no” or “Wrong,” and guide them back into the correct position and start again.
It’s The Place To Be
We all have our ideal place. Mine is a beach with some clear water, coupled with an ice-cold drink and some blistering sunshine.
Dog’s are no different, except we never really know what their ideal place is; however, imagine it would be a field full of toys and food. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that dogs must have a place too, but you can actually give them one when they need some downtime.
An example of a dog’s place could be their bed. When the place command has been issued, the dog will promptly go to their bed with no questions asked. This, of course, is the end goal but, I’m going to show you how to reach that end goal.
Teaching The Place Command
From the onset, you will need a dog-sized bed that fits perfectly for your pup and has obvious boundaries. Secondly, you will need a slightly elevated surface, such as a low table. The risen surface helps your dog understand that their hind legs are there to be used and used for moments like this. However, if you don’t have this, you needn’t worry; the exercise can still be taught correctly, but it may take a little longer, that’s all.
Without using the bed at this point, you must ensure that your dog is confident and comfortable with getting onto the elevated place platform. Next, you will issue a “Place” command and guide them up to the risen surface until all four paws are secure in their place. Once you have mastered the exercise in their elevated position, you may then progress to using the bed instead.
Once this is done, can you guess what happens next? Yep, lots of praise, lots of love, and lots of rewards—my favorite. As soon as you’ve handed out the praise, carefully instruct them off of the place with a command such as “Free” or “Go” and recycle this process until familiarization has been achieved.
Once your dog is in its place, you must start to implement more boundaries, such as keeping close while facing them and acting as a barrier to avoid any sudden jumps. You will then slowly walk around the place as your dog tries to follow you with excitement.
The reward system for the place command is straightforward to adhere to, but it does require consistency along with everything else. Your dog should only receive a reward or praise if, and only if, they stay in their place. After they do so, you can prompt them with a release command such as “Go” and repeat the exercise all over again.
However, it should be noted that if your dog happens to break the exercise before the release command is given, you must say, “No, place!” before redirecting them back to their place position again.
Initiate by walking around the place as you grasp your leash at around 3-4 feet away. If you’re able to walk around the place without your dog breaking the exercise, you may reward them with a treat, praise, or both. I tend to go for both because, why not? It helps them recognize what they are doing is good behavior. If they happen to break the exercise, as mentioned above, you must tell them what they did was wrong and guide them back into their place position.
The goal here is to teach your dog to a point where they make their own decisions without the need for your prompt. It helps enforce the difference between what should be expected vs. what’s not expected. Once you’ve made good progress from 3-4 feet away, it’s time to be adventurous and attempt a 6 footer while holding the end of the leash. Wait for the right time before you drop the leash and walk around them. If they stay in place, you can then dish out the much-needed love that they deserve.
Drop It and Leave It
Drop it and leave it are two very beneficial commands, which will come in handy throughout the entirety of your dog’s life. They’ll be many times when you need to use them, especially when playing a lighthearted game of catch or if your dog is about to go near something dangerous and needs to be alerted. As soon as you nail these two, teaching your dog is a walk in the park. Pardon the pun.
Teaching Your Dog To Drop It
We all need to teach our dogs to drop things, especially from the stage where they’re young, cute, and worryingly curious about everything they stumble across. Puppies are a nightmare for having something dangerous or important in their mouths. It is why teaching them to drop is more than essential to you and your dog.
The end goal is to eventually say the command, “Drop” or “Drop it,” and your dog will do so almost immediately, but getting to this stage requires a lot of leverage, and when I say leverage, I mean rewards.
Over time, your dog will realize that dropping it upon command will result in a reward, so it makes sense for them to comply. Just think about it; imagine getting food every time you dropped something? Dog’s live the high life, don’t they?
The Step-By-Step Process
- Gather a number of your dog’s favorite items they enjoy chewing on, along with your clicker and some tasty treats.
- Grab a tasty treat in one hand as you prompt your dog to chew on a specific object. As soon as their mouth is on the object, push the piece of food near their nose and command, “Drop.” You must then use the clicker once they open their mouth before offering them a treat as you grab the object with your other hand.
- Ideally, you should repeat this exercise approximately ten times a day for them to become familiar with it at a quicker rate.
- This is where progression takes place. Once you’ve completed ten successful repetitions, you will refer back to point two above, yet this time, you won’t have a treat in your hand close to their nose.
How dare you?! I know, a little bit crafty, but it’s all for a good cause. It is to get them used to drop objects without the need for a treat.
- Once you’ve reached this point, you must now use a hard chew. Grasp the chew in your hand and leave enough room for your dog to chew on the other side while you’re holding it tightly. As soon as their mouth grips on the chew, you must say, “Drop.” If they do this correctly, you can give them three of their tastiest treats along with the chew – this will make them love you even more!
- Finally, you will repeat the above step, but we’re going to challenge the determined pup! The next step is to have the chew and tasty treats at the ready once more, but this time you will offer them the chew and let go immediately once they have a grip of it. You will then command, “Drop.” If done successfully, you can give them ten treats and the chew! – you will be putting them in a doggy utopia. However, if they decide not to drop the object, you can offer a small treat now and then as you progress to this level.
- After they’ve mastered this, you can move onto objects they’re not supposed to chew, such as pens, pillows, socks, etc. Practice makes perfect, so ensure you’re putting in the work, and you will see results in no time!
Teaching Your Dog To Leave It
The end goal for this exercise is to steer your dog’s attention away from something they shouldn’t be next to, like roadkill, for example, just by instructing them to “Leave it.” This exercise is essential when around small, yet disastrous, objects such as medication, or food that could potentially harm them.
The Step-By-Step Process
- Ensure you have some tasty treats in both your hands, not for you, but your dog. You’d be surprised at how many people pick up their favorite chocolate bar in two hands whenever I say this.
Next, you will let your dog smell one of your fists, so they pick up a scent. This is the moment when you will click and treat when they move away from your fist and offer the treat with your opposite hand. You should recycle this exercise until your dog is no longer interested in the treat that you initially present to them.
- Offer the treat in an open palm but quickly close it if they try to steal it from you. While doing this, you must be mindful of your dog and their temperament, as aggressive dogs could cause injury. If this is the case, I advise covering it with something big and soft like a pillow as an alternative. You will repeat this step until they decide to disregard the treat when your palm is open as you click and treat with your opposite hand.
- This should be repeated every time until they consistently disregard your “decoy” treat. You may also use the command “Leave It” for every repetition you make when using the decoy treat.
- Place one of those delicious incentives on the ground, and if your dog tries to make a sneak grab, you must quickly cover it with your hands. It’s worth mentioning that if you have slow reactions, your dog might be choosing your hand as a tasty snack instead, so make sure you’re quick! Again, be wary of your dog’s personality and use something soft and big to cover it if you want to play it safe. You should click and treat the second they look away from it and recycle the exercise until they no longer attempt to make a lunge every time you command, “Leave It.”
- If progress is being made, it is where it starts to formulate a little easier. Step four is when you set the treat on the floor and command “Leave It” as you’re standing up. Shelter the treat with your foot or something that’s soft and shields it well if they attempt to make a snatch but click and treat if they disregard it and repeat it several times.
- The next step is to attempt the exercise but with the aid of a leash. You should walk past the treat while holding the leash as you command, “Leave It.” If they try and go for a treat, you will pull back on the leash to signal that they aren’t listening. However, if they disregard the decoy treat, you can implement a click and treat right away for their hard work.
- Once your dog is more than competent with the above steps, you can start to get creative with the exercises by placing treats on their paws or even gradually increasing the wait time length before they’re allowed to have the treat. Be fun; dogs like having fun even more than humans!
- Finally, you will eventually get to a point where you are implementing the “Leave It” command with everyday objects instead of treats. If your dog can disregard general living room items after your command, you have achieved the end goal. Well done!
Ah yes, the almighty recall. Debatably the most important exercise to teach your dog in its entire lifetime. This command can bring your dog back before they imminently destroy the local kid’s ball at the park or keep them away from any type of danger that may hurt them.
The end goal is to walk in the opposite direction to your dog as they are preoccupied with something and shout their name, followed by the word, “Come.” If taught correctly, they will sprint quicker than a speeding bullet before applying the brakes and sitting still directly next to you.
Teaching The Recall
To start this exercise, you need a leash that is approximately 6 feet in length. You must ensure that the leash is loose at all times while your dog has their attention on something that’s in front of you. After this, you will say the command, “Come” or “Here” as you administer a gentle tug on their leash in your direction.
It also helps to back up as you’re now presenting yourself as a moving target for your dog to focus on, so when they do begin to walk back in your direction, ensure they are rewarded for their efforts.
Another excellent method to implement is to have somebody hold your dog (preferably not a stranger that likes to steal dogs) on a leash as you walk away in the distance before giving out the “Come” or “Here” command.
They will usually wonder where you’re going and follow you instantly, but if you find that they are hesitant, a great way to overcome this is to bend/kneel with open arms as you encourage them to come to you.
As usual, it’s only fair we reward our canine friends with a reward whenever they master this exercise, whether it’s on or off the leash. We want them to think that coming back to us from a recall is in their favor, and they are getting something out of it. This is what will give them the motivation to learn this exercise.
As you progress the recall, you will begin to expand your distance over time. With this in mind, it may be an idea to acquire a few leashes of different sizes so you can get the very best from this recall exercise.
Distractions During Recall
As you begin to improve the recall by moving further away, the potential for distractions is higher, as the gap between you and your dog allows more time for them to appear. In short, the recall must be direct, and you need to avoid your dog getting distracted by other variables, such as birds, balls, dogs, or stopping to smell and go to the toilet.
If your dog happens to get distracted from the task at hand, you should always have your trusty leash at the ready, so you’re able to gently provide that light pull and direct them back into your path. Now, if your dog struggles to grasp the recall, you should think about making it more enjoyable so they want to grasp it. Try offering more treats, toys, and praise if this is the case.
Part 3: Solving Common Problems
Welcome to the final part of the e-book! Here we will discuss some common problems and how to correct them in your day-to-day life. Although there’s many to choose from, we decided to include, what we thought, were the most important ones to solve early on in the training stages.
Avoiding Mistakes Is a Priority
Firstly, this section is more applicable to puppies as opposed to adult dogs. However, that’s not to say these tactics wouldn’t work with adult dogs who have been poorly housetrained. On the contrary, you can also implement them freely with dogs of all ages if needed.
In aid of housetraining dogs, you must be aware that dogs, in general, are very particular about where they venture to. It’s vitally important for them to build solid foundations in their everyday habits.
With that said, it’s also just as important to anticipate potty accidents before they arise. Every time your dog feels the need to go to the toilet inside the house, it is actually due to them having a soft spotted preference for that area. In other words, if your dog takes a monstrous leak in the corner of the freshly cleaned kitchen, please don’t blame them, but instead, look in the mirror and take accountability. When you were a baby and you used to pee everywhere, was that your fault? I think not.
If your dog hasn’t learned to use nature’s big outdoors to relieve themselves just yet, you must ensure they are being monitored at all times. I’ve been there myself where I’ve been distracted for 15 seconds, took a step to my right, and then I’m knee-deep in a pool of dog relief. It’s not a nice feeling.
Lucky for you, there are some telltale signs to look out for when anticipating an oncoming toilet break. If your dog happens to be circling or sniffing along the floor, the likelihood of them going to the toilet is high. If you see this behavior, you should get them outside immediately.
Once they’ve done the deed, why not reward them with a small treat? This will help associate that going to the toilet outside will earn them some goodies. I would encourage you to take your dog outside, especially if they’re a pup, within 15 minutes after every meal. However, if accidents are frequent at the beginning you should consider adding more breaks between these meals so it becomes a familiar process for them. Another thing, if you take them out and they don’t let the river flow, don’t sweat, simply take them back in for around 10-15 minutes then try again.
Keep a Routine
Taking your dog out often throughout the day is an essential part of training them and even more so after eating, playing, or sleeping. You should aim to feed your dog approximately 2-3 times per day while leaving it around 15 minutes in total for any food to digest properly. Of course, the quantity of food will depend on the size and breed of your dog, and also their age bracket too. I would advise contacting your vet regarding this as they will be able to offer more accurate recommendations for you.
Now, a great indicator for telling how long a dog can hold themselves is considering their age in months + one hour, but never exceeding the 8-hour mark as an adult. Three hours for a two-month-old puppy, six hours for a five-month-old one, etc.
The key here is to get them outside for as much as possible, in short stints, as it drastically limits the number of potential mistakes. However, on the other hand, it also increases the number of rewards for your dog. It’s a win-win!
Jumping up is a very common problem for dogs, and it’s a reason why many owners tend to ignore them before ultimately sending them to the backyard. Although jumping up can be annoying, it’s probably best not to send them to a place where they can cause more mess in an excited state.
The backyard can be subject to excessive barking and biting things they aren’t supposed to, amongst many other things.
Why Do Dogs Jump Unprovoked?
Great question. Believe it or not, it’s a way of them being extra friendly to you. They see us, humans, standing on two legs. Dogs being dogs, they want to greet us by jumping up to try and get on our level. This can be due to them wanting to say “Hi!”, “Bye!”, or maybe they’re just overly excited about your presence.
Preventing Dogs From Jumping Up
The primary goal here is to ensure consistency at all times, regardless of how you decide to train your dog. If you let your dog jump on you after a hard day of work on the building site while in your dirty uniform, chances are they won’t see a problem with jumping on you 5 minutes before you leave for a black-tie event at the local country club.
You have to remember that dogs can’t distinguish the difference between good or bad clothes. You must be mindful that letting them jump up when you deem it okay may be setting a bad precedent for them. Here are some tips to help deal with your bouncing pup:
- Get Them to Sit: The sit command makes your life a whole lot easier the earlier it’s implemented. It’s one of, if not the most, fundamental commands every pup should be taught.
Every moment your dog decides to turn into a pogo stick, tell them to sit immediately. Once they’ve done this successfully, you can reward them with praise. This will show them that jumping up is bad, and if they don’t do so, they will receive love and attention.
- Fetch!: This is perfect if you have an over-excited pup, and telling them to sit just doesn’t work. It makes it a great chance to burn off this extra energy and excitement with a game of fetch. So once you’ve played for a fair amount of time and they’re all burnt out, attempt to calm them down and request them to sit so regain some normality.
- Show Them Your Back: Now, this one depends on how persistent your dog is. You may need to turn your back on them for 15 seconds or 10 minutes. Regardless of how long it takes, it always falls to consistency, so make sure you stick to your guns and outwait them no matter how long.
Unless you’re standing there for 24 hours—at that point, I would probably call a dog therapist.
8 Reasons Why Your Dog Is Barking
There’s an array of reasons why dogs bark, and sometimes it’s going to be hard to tell which is which, so I’ll break down eight simple reasons why your dog may be barking. Here we go:
- Barking = Greeting: You probably know this already, but some dogs get over-excited when they see a certain somebody or maybe their friends from the local park. It’s common for them to wag their tail while they bark or even let out an enormous whining noise as a friendly greeting.
- It’s a Territory Thing: Barking over territory often occurs when a dog sees a stranger, such as a mailman who’s encroaching on the dog’s turf. Because they aren’t familiar with this person, it causes them to go into defense mode and bark them away.
- They’re Scared: This is quite similar to territory barking only due to the defensive nature of the bark. However, instead of them barking at a stranger, this time they could be barking at an unusual sound or sight within their environment. They will instinctively bark because they don’t know what it is.
- They Want Fun: In some cases, dogs will bark because they just want some attention. If they’re in the living room with all the family and start to bark, there’s a good chance that all they need is some treats or playtime!
- Separation Anxiety: Dogs can often feel very anxious when their owners leave them for a while, which is why they may bark excessively over a prolonged period. They just miss you when you’re gone!
- Trying To Be Social: Another reason for them barking could be down to social elements. For example, if they see or hear another dog barking, this could ultimately trigger a barking response back at them.
- Frustration: Dogs can get frustrated just like us humans! Except they don’t pay bills as we do, so what on earth can they be stressed about? Well, they can become restless when they’re tied to a leash, and they want the freedom to play. They will express their frustration through means of barking.
- In Discomfort or Pain: The worst-case scenario for your dog barking is that they are in some kind of discomfort or pain due to sickness or an injury. Typically, in this case, they would let out a distinct whine and bark. If you notice this, please take them to a veterinarian as soon as possible to seek medical attention.
7 Tips To Stop Your Dog Barking
Now we’ve covered the reasons why our dogs may bark, let’s move on and discuss seven stellar tips for training your dog to stop excessive barking, so it can improve their overall behavior:
- Finding a Cause: It should be noted that not all types of barking are an indicator of poor temperament. With this in mind, it’s vital to highlight the cause of your dogs barking before training them to be quiet. You must identify the initial cause from where or when the barking seems to happen, and after you’ve determined this, you can put training in place to prevent it from persisting.
- Cut Out The Catalyst: If, for example, your dog is barking for territorial purposes, you must analyze the environment and quickly remove or block out the sound or sights provoking your dog’s barking episodes.
- Divert Attention: When you’re out walking your dog, or even sitting down outside a cafe with them, and they’re excessively barking at every passerby they come across, you need to divert their attention right away. Ensure you have a pocket full of dog treats, and if they succeed in not barking when somebody walks by, you may offer them a reward. Place command is also a great way of diverting their attention when at home. For example, if somebody is approaching the front door.
- Ignorance Is Bliss: Sometimes, dogs have an annoying habit of barking for sheer attention. However, a way to reverse this is to simply ignore them. Yep, you heard correct. Ignore them till they’re all barked out.
You must not make any type of interaction, whether this is eye contact or reprimanding them. When your dog finally reads your body language and stops, you may then reward them for their efforts accordingly.
- Fix Their Confinement: Barking issues may arise from their confined environments, such as being locked in a cage for too long. If you find your dog stays inside their cage way too often and they’re excessively barking, they may just want to go outside and roam the great outdoors.
We mustn’t forget that dogs need exercise and mental relaxation just like us humans. Let them do what they love.
- Pump Up The Speakers: Playing music when your dog is having a barking episode is another great way to distract them—especially when they can hear construction or other dogs barking outside. Get some relaxing music on and turn it up to a decent volume; this should stop your dog barking in no time.
- Behavior Training: Instilling some training to improve your dog’s overall obedience is essential. It helps throughout many occasions, but being able to teach your dog to sit and stay also stimulates control, which can help avoid barking incidents.
Do you know that moment when you’re first acquainted with those beautiful beady puppy eyes? That moment where you discover unfathomable amounts of joy and love as you run your hands through their soft puppy fur? That moment when you tell yourself how amazing this puppy is…and then they take a good old nip from your hand.
Yeah, we’ve all been there. However, you can act early to prevent your pup from making this a bad habit as they grow into adulthood.
Teething vs. Nipping
As you may notice from the dents in your skin, puppies start their journey with 30 small needle-like teeth in their mouths. As they become adults, these teeth are eventually replaced by 40 fully-grown ones, but this is no painless road.
It is a constant battle for them to suppress teething’s pain, so they feel the need to bite, nip, and pretty much chew anything they can get their mouths on—pretty much like our own human babies.
The main difference between teething and nipping is usually quite easy to distinguish, as a teething puppy will often gnaw or gently nibble on your hands, feet, or some subcutaneous skin on your arm or legs. In comparison, nipping will typically occur when your puppy is excited and very playful.
Appropriate Measures If They Nip or Bite
If your pup begins to nip at you, it’s imperative to put a stop to it right away but correctly. For example, if it’s playtime with your pup and they take a gentle nip at your foot, peacefully express this via a neutral sound such as an “ouch” before you instantly put a halt to any further playtime. You should then ignore them until they’ve settled down and are no longer in a nipping state.
If they do this correctly after reading your body language, reward them with a treat and praise as this will establish that nipping during playtime means no more playtime. This is greatly effective with pups; all they want to do is play, so if you take that from them, they will soon fix up and realize that the fun stops if they do it again. The same intervention also applies when your dog is gnawing or teething.
One thing I must reaffirm is that you must never shout or hit your puppy. This can hurt the results you’re trying to achieve by forcing your dog to be scared of you and, in the long run, could exacerbate your dogs biting tendencies but in a more aggressive nature.
I hope you learned a thing or two from the above information. It was great to put this together for all dog-lovers across the globe to help them teach their dog in the very best way possible.
If I were to give you one more piece of advice, it would be to take it slowly but surely. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint. Take it one step at a time and use progression and regression to your advantage. You’ll both see results in little to no time. Sometimes your pup will get it wrong, but I can guarantee you will get it wrong more. This is normal, as, in theory, you’re both learning the ropes, so be inventive, be fun, be consistent, and above all else, be loving!