The truth is, dog training can be really simple, it’s all about setting expectations.
(And of course, having lots of patience)
Your dog is a mirror of you. How you behave is exactly how they will behave.
But there are no one size fit’s all training rules for dogs. Consider that there are however, all kinds of different dog breeds, each with their own temperament, age, history, etc. Plus different dog owners too!
You need to find a balance of training methods.
To help, I’ve put together a list of the top 50 best dog training tips, tricks and secrets from pro’s around the world.
Dog Training Tips, Tricks And Secrets
1. The top five easiest tricks to teach a dog include: Rolling over, playing dead, catch, shaking paws, and the beg. Good basic commands to learn first include: Sit, stay, heal, roll over and stop.
2. The top five hardest tricks to teach a dog include: The spinning dog, balancing a book, sneeze, tail fetch and jump through arms.
3. Female dogs are easier to train than male dogs.
4. It’s estimated that 3.2% of all dog owners do not take the time to properly train their dogs.
5. On average, 19.2% of all pup parents dedicate less than 30 minutes per week to dog training.
6. When introducing a new dog to your home, walk them through the interior and exterior of the house while on a leash. Teach dogs early on the boundaries of each room.
7. The easiest commands for dogs to understand and identify with are one to two syllable words.
8. During training make it habit to always end the session on a positive note. If you are nearing close to the five minute mark, don’t aim to reach or exceed it if your dog is doing an excellent job. It’s perfectly fine to end the training session early.
9. When training with your dog set a goal for sessions that are 3 to 5 minute each. Complete these sessions 10 times over the course of a full day. Adjust as needed depending on your dog’s attention span and interest.
10. It’s believed that 6.6% of all pup parents spend more than 20 hours per week training their dog. Now that’s commitment!
11. Always reward your dog after a desired action is completed. Praise them with or without treats. Pay attention to your own body language (inviting/positive), the tone of your voice (enthusiastic/happy), and the way you pet your dog (gentle/excited).
12. When teaching a new trick to your dog always avoid environments with unwanted distractions.
13. When rewarding with treats, don’t just feed any treats. Make sure the treats you use during training sessions are ones your dog absolutely craves. High value treats will get your dog properly motivated to listen and perform.
14. Dog training can actually improve your dog’s brain function. Believe it or not, but training can physically alter the structure of your dog’s brain. It can also expand the number of brain circuits used and improve problem solving skills. And just like playing crossword puzzles or bingo as you age to stay sharp, dogs that train also reduce cognitive decline and memory loss as they age.
17. Give your puppy a treat instantly every time they eliminate outdoors. In doing so, you’ll be helping them to recognize appropriate behaviors and associate going potty outside as a positive experience.
18. When it comes to squirrels and another naughty behavior, dogs can be conflicted on what to do. Use incompatible behavior on dogs by rewarding them every time they look up at you and make eye contact. Over time your dog will be looking up to you for instructions before taking any action in a new environment.
You can try this method by walking up to a door or entry way and pausing with your dog next to you. Instead of simply going through it, don’t move until your dog is looking up at you for direction. Act like a leader and your dog will gladly want to follow.
19. Training releases oxytocin, the pleasure chemical and stimulates the pleasure center of your dog’s brain. It also reduces levels of stress caused by Cortisol.
20. Dogs who train are happier, less anxious and more social. Over time your dog will have an increased understanding of your own body language too.
21. Humans must always eat first during mealtime. When feeding your dog food always take a bite out of small snack and ensure your dog is close by and watching. Though not entirely necessary, but beneficial: You can lay that snack down next to your dog’s food bowl, and it will give them the impression that you are eating from their bowl first.
It can be tough to eat before your dog, I’ve been there myself! Coming home from work starving for dinner, and seeing your dog patiently waiting to eat does bring on a sense of guilt. (Puppy eyes make this so much more difficult) But if you can hold off for a moment or two to eat first, it can be a extremely positive training method.
22. When playing fetch or with any toys, ensure you are the one who stops and starts the activity. Never allow your dog decided when playtime begins or ends.
23. Avoid playing games like tug-of-war. While fun, this type of activity can be associated with power. Should you lose there’s a chance your communicating to your dog that they are in fact, the top dog in the household.
Though, sometimes you’ll find yourself in a tug of war situation over a toy you didn’t wish or plan on starting. Or perhaps, if you haven’t trained your dog to properly release or drop it, it there are some special circumstances to consider. It’s perfectly acceptable to lose once in awhile, but try to always ensure you win for the most part when possible. Over time you can gradually train around these issues, and no longer have to worry about tug of war situations arising. But when possible, avoid them in the first place.
24. The majority of house breaking accidents and destructive chewing habits stem from giving your new dog too much freedom. Dogs in new environments will tend to wander off and eliminate in the privacy of another room. By closing off doors to unused rooms and limiting the space to roam you can help prevent these unwanted behaviors.
It also helps to keep the floor clear of any chewable looking items. (Watches, shoes, clothing, etc). By only allowing your dog access to their toys and bones, it will help them understand what belongs to you and what belongs to them.
25. When your dog gets a hold of your shoes or any unwanted item inside or outside of the house be prepared. Tell them, “no”, “yuck”, “leave it”, and create a common command word. Replace whatever is in their mouth with a toy that is appropriate, and praise them for their positive behavior. If you have a difficult time getting your dog to “drop it”, use treats as an incentive and quick distraction. Once dropped, replace that unwanted item with a chewable dog toy and continue to praise them.
26. Before allowing your dog to eat from his or her bowl make them understand the virtue of patience. Do not allow your dog to run or rush towards the bowl frantically and eat. Wait until your dog is sitting, lying down or in place before giving using the word, “okay” and allowing them to touch the bowl. Should your dog be nearing the food bowl without your permission use the words, “no, wait” calmly and confidently.
Your body language will be the biggest factor in determining how your dog responds in this situation. You must be confident knowing you can take away your dog’s bowl at any time, for any reason. You control the food. If you fear a dog bite or the sound of growling makes you timid, you must overcome those emotions. Your dog will sense it, there is no doubt about it. Remember, most dogs will more than often giving you a warning signal before harming you; knowing the signs will give you a better sense of confidence. It can also help the rest of your family too. Simply determine who your dog growls at the most in your household, and allow them to feed for your dog the most often.
If you dog won’t sit or wait for their food, simply pick up the bowl and move it out of reach. (On the counter). Allow 15-20 minutes to pass by then try again. Continue this process, repeating each step until your dog listens to your command. Try to feed your dog and practice this routine when they are in a happy, calm, relaxed state of mind. (Lowered head or lying down, with ears back.)
27. Avoid stepping over your dog or walking around them when they are in your path. If your dog is lying down the floor and they are in the way, simply make them move. By practicing this rule you’ll also make it easier to move your dog while in bed or on the couch with no fuss or growling involved.
28. In order to receive any treat, bone or new toy your dog must earn it. (Remember, nothing in life is free) A simple command using, “sit”, “down” followed by a “stay”, can work wonders to reinforce calm, positive behavior.
29. Positive reinforce can take longer than more negative, alpha dog approaches, but the results can often be more successful. Instead of softly kneeing an overly excited dog who jumps on you and ignores all commands, try things reverse: Do not greet your dog until they are sitting and in calm state of mind. Should the dog jump, remove yourself from the situation by turning your back and completely ignoring the dog. When the dog shows good behavior and sits upon approach without jumping, reward them with a highly-prized treat.
Remember, sometime positive reinforcement training methods can take over a month (5 weeks) to start seeing results. If you’re disappointed your dog hasn’t changed within a week, be patient!
30. Want to train your dog to stop biting or mouthing? Believe it or not, but it’s actually a pretty easy process. When bitten or mouthed doing playtime or any other activity, make an overly dramatic reaction by yelling “OUCH!” or “OWW!”. (Yes, even if it doesn’t hurt) Then quickly walk into the bedroom or bathroom ignoring your dog and slam the door shut hard. After a few minutes (2-3) come back out of the room and resume play or interaction with your dog. If bitten or mouthed a second time, repeat this process.
The real key here is for when it happens a third time, it will be a super gentle mouthing. You dog may rest their mouth on your arm or hand without even opening it. You must repeat the process again. (I know it sounds silly at this point, but it absolutely works!) Plenty pup parents have had extremely successful lifetime results with this training method.
31. When training your dog basic commands such as sit, down, heel, stay or come do so while they are not leashed. Why? Because when your dog is off-lead there will be no transition necessary. By starting off with no leash contact, your dog can associate the same commands on or off.
Remember, the same is absolutely true for environments. If you train in a no-distraction environment, and attempt to enforce commands in a high-distraction environment you’re going to struggle. There is a major transition going on here.
32. Use your hands to place treats around and inside of your dog’s bowl while they are eating. You’ll build a sense of trust and associate the idea that touching the bowl can be a positive experience for your dog. The same can be said about touching or taking away tasty bones from your dog. Some pup parents will find themselves dealing with aggressive and possessive dogs when it comes to bones. (Some dogs will bite and growl, it can be a bit shocking) To eliminate these behavioral problems, help your dog understand that by submitting there is always a better reward in it for them. With proper training you can transition off treats and develop a sense of trust with your pup.
As always, avoid touching your dog while they are eating; it’s best to let them do their thing without being overly disturbed or stimulated.
33. Never set expectations for a dog to perform two commands at the same time. It’s impossible, let alone downright confusing for a dog to understand how to sit and come at the same time. When making commands do so one at the time. If you dog does not respond, do not repeat yourself over and over. Dogs are great listeners, they can almost always hear you the first or second time a command is given.
34. Be 100% consistent and stick to your rules. If you don’t want your dog to chew on your clothing, don’t allow them to chew on socks thinking they’ll understand difference. It can start with something as simple as socks, then progress to underwear, shirts, shoes, and everything in your closet.
Plus, just because it’s cute to watch your dog chew on something inappropriate, you’re setting them up for the wrong expectations every single time it happens. If you don’t want your dog to chew on toilet paper for example, never allow them to continue doing so for your entertainment. You’ll find yourself frustrated when they won’t stop doing it in the future.
35. Practice makes perfect. Dog training takes time and plenty of patience. Be understanding.
36. Never punish your dog after they can committed an undesired behavior such as pooping in the house. Dogs understand things in the moment, and dragging them back into the room where they pooped will not correct the problem. If you see your dog in the middle of an undesired behavior it is however, acceptable to say “no”. (In the moment) Reprimanding 5 min or hours after something bad has occurred will get you nowhere.
In the case of pooping indoors, never rub your dogs face in it. You’ll just create more issues down the road.
37. As your dog begins to understand how training sessions work, you can begin to increase the time of each session.
38. Vocal commands are not always enough to get your dog to listen and perform and action. Remember your body language can be a huge signal for directing your dog on what to do next. Your dog may have trouble responding to “come”, but if you point your finger in that direction and turn your body, suddenly your dog seems to know exactly where to go and what to do.
39. Do not reinforce undesired behavior. If your dog begs at the dinner table and makes a commotion, do not feed them. By giving into their demand you’ll be teaching them that this type of behavior gets them exactly what they want.
40. Most dogs will whine or bark when put into the crate or when left alone at home. Never open the crate or return indoors when your doing is whining or barking. You’ll make them believe that by making noise it causes you to magically return.
41. Call your pet’s name out at least 10 times per day. Do so doing walks, playtime and feeding. Help them associate this command as a request for their attention.
42. If you are not serious about a command, or are not committed to following through, don’t give it.
43. Reward your dog for sitting quietly and having good behavior. This could be as simple as giving them a treat while they are lying down on the floor relaxing and not making any noise. You can also give them a nice belly rub too.
44. The best time to train a puppy is when their full or energy and due for their daily case of the “zoomies”. (Where puppies will jolt around the house or yard for absolutely no reason at all.) If your dog’s feeding schedule is consistent, you should have a sense of what time this typically occurs.
45. Unless you are doing specific training exercise, go with a flat collar for training.
46. Incorporate new behaviors into your daily routine after your dog has learned them.
47. Do not allow dominant dogs with behavior problems such as growling to sit on furniture or sleep in your bed. The human should always get the most comfortable resting spot. Dogs who cannot respect this notion must sit on the floor. You can however, allow your dog onto the couch or other furniture, but you must invite them up first.
It is always best to avoid letting a new rescue dog go on any furniture or sleep in your bed for the first week. Make sure they sit on the floor and at night sleep inside of their crate.
With proper training you can eliminate the crate during nighttime, and turn it into a safe den during the daytime.
48. You can sneak in bits of training with things like potty breaks, feeding meals and other situations. Even if you have a busy lifestyle, there is typically always time to train throughout the day. Focus on as many sessions as possible when your short on time.
49. Dogs by nature are attention seekers when it comes to humans. Whenever you give them what they want by paying attention, you are reinforcing this behavior. If you are trying to calm a hyper dog down or get them to stop barking do not give into what they want. Avoid touching, talking and making eye contact until you are ready to give them attention. In time your dog will relax and settle down, waiting for a command from you.
50. Believe it or not, but dogs can sense your emotional state of mind. They will mirror exactly how you are feeling at the moment. If you’re nervous or fearful your dog will know and begin to act the same way. A leader must always be strong and confident in any new environment or when other dogs or people are approaching. If another person is approaching and you are tense your dog may growl and be on guard. However, if you’re casual about it and loose on the leash your dog will feel a sense of friendless without the worry.