In honor of National Train Your Dog Month, here are six ways to help your pup learn what’s okay and what’s not.
1. Master the basic cues. To keep them and others safe, dogs need to understand the core four cues: “come,” “sit,” “stay” and “drop it.” Keep these cues short and consistent, and give lots of positive reinforcement. But don’t always give treats – you don’t want your pet to gain excess weight. Reward with praise, extra belly rubs, walks and occasional treats.
2. Timing is everything. Small doses of training work best – try 2 to 5 minutes to start. If training sessions are too long, you may lose your dog’s interest or cause frustration or over-stimulation. Dogs live in the moment! Reward things you want to encourage immediately, so your dog can make the association between the behavior and the response.
3. Set house rules. Dogs can’t follow your rules if they don’t know what they are. Set clear boundaries and be consistent. Can your fur baby jump on furniture? Sleep on your bed? Have full access to the house, or just certain rooms? Make rules and stick with them so you don’t send mixed messages.
4. Try ignoring bad behaviors. Of course, if your dog is doing something destructive or dangerous, it’s important to stop her. But try to ignore smaller issues like begging at the table. Your pup will lose interest in behaviors that aren’t acknowledged or rewarded.
5. Praise the right thing. Be lavish in your praise and constantly show love and kindness as you train! But be careful not to reward a good behavior while another problematic one is happening. For example, don’t praise if your dog obeys the “come” cue but then barks loudly all the way over. Give the most praise for a behavior that’s 100% right.
6. Listen to your dog. Above all else, pay attention to your dog’s body language. Watch for signs of frustration or discomfort during training sessions. Instead of insisting on perfection, reward small steps and then offer time for active play after training. Dogs are happier to train again if they know training is followed by play time!
Here are more resources for dog training success:
- Pedigree® brand: 10 Best Training Tips
- Companion Animal Psychology: Seven Reasons to Use Reward-Based Dog Training
- WebMD: Obedience Training for Dogs
- Mars Petcare: 6 Training Tips to Help Your Best Friend Thrive
- Banfield® Pet Hospital: Puppy Manners Video
See a tip you like? Please share! And if you’ve learned something that helps you and your dog, please donate so we can help more dogs get a loving home like yours.