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Dog Training Tips from the Professionals


Many of us know that dog training is essential for a happy relationship between our families and dogs. Sometimes we are able to do it on our own, and sometimes we need a little help from the professionals. We reached out to some of our favorite organizations who work with positive reinforcement training to have them share with us their favorite tips through their experiences.

Michelle is the CEO of Domesti-PUPs, an organization that trains service dogs and therapy dogs who go on to help people in the community. Their mission is to improve the quality of life for persons with special needs through the assistance of animals, and to promote awareness through education. SitStay currently works with Domesti-PUPs to make sure that information we are sharing with our customers about service dogs is accurate. Reading below, you will see why we like them. To learn more about their organization visit http://www.domesti-pups.org/

Dog training is about building the relationship.

"He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life,

his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat

of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion." --Unknown

Dog training is not about commanding or dominating your dog… it’s about building the relationship between you and your dog.

Master the art of attention.

Teaching your dog to be attentive is one of the most important dog training skills. If you have your dog’s attention before you give a command, your dog is more likely to complete the request.  If you are the center of your dog’s attention, the bond between you and your dog will be strong and training will be much easier.

Do all the steps.

Build a proper foundation and don’t skip steps. Example: If you teach recall from six feet, don’t expect the dog to complete the recall from thirty feet the following week. Apply your work ethic in your dog training program, and do the requisite number of repetitions and steps needed to build a solid foundation. If you try to jump ahead too much, both you and your dog will become frustrated.

Grayson Trevett has been a dog trainer for the past eight years with a focus on communicating with dogs. He has studied dog training and dog behaviror at Southeast Community College as well as through working with different dog organizations in Lincoln, Nebraska. To learn more about Grayson and to reach out to him, visit hisLinkedIn profile

Make no mistake, you are always training your dog, intentionally or not.

When most people think of training, they think of a group of dogs and owners standing in a circle and shovingtreats down their dog’s mouths for sitting still longer than .3 seconds. While that is a typical outline for a dog training class, where your dog does the most of its learning isn’t there.

Dogs are constantly picking up information from their owners and every moment they are around you is a potential training opportunity. Keep in mind that when you allow your dog to pull you down the sidewalk, jump on you for a biscuit, or take food from your plate, they are learning. It may not be intentional and sometimes it’s easy to forget these things or simply let them slide, remember that your dog is picking up on those lessons and is learning. So while Fido is cute when he pulls and jumps at 16 weeks remember that Fido is an English Mastiff and what may be cute now could seriously injure someone when he’s 10 months and 110lbs.

Being proactive is always better than reactive. 

We know dogs are opportunistic, it’s in their nature. This is important to keep in mind whether you have a puppy or an adult dog, you want to set them up for success. Management is really key when it comes to living with our dogs, especially puppies or newly rehomed dogs. You must contain them appropriately when you cannot directly supervise them; and when they are with you, ensure they have adequate mental stimulation to help avoid them getting into trouble. When our dogs do get into trouble, because it is inevitable, we must not give into our emotions immediately (this is the hard part.) It’s best to act as though nothing major has happened, clean the mess, and begin thinking of how that trouble could have been avoided. Reacting in a negative way to your dog over trouble can create distrust, confusion, and fear; remember that dogs are opportunists, if they can get into something, then it’s just there for the taking! Preventing problems brings much less of a headache than resolving problems.

All dogs need a recall. 

Even though this is one of the most simple commands to teach, it’s certainly the most important. Your recall is your safety line, your invisible leash. There are a million and one reasons a dog can get out off leash, and it happens all the time.

According to petfinder.com, 1 in 3 pets will become lost at some point in their life. We all know what that panic feels like as your dog dashes away from you as your calls to them fall on deaf ears, which is why it’s so important to teach your dog a recall as soon as possible. Start out slow and add distractions over time, not only should you practice your recall inside, but outside too. You want to provide tests and distractions to help strengthen your recall, it’s always best to keep your dog on a lead while outside, but if they do manage to get free it’s always important to have your recall as a safety line.

Dog Gone Problems is a team of Dog Behaviorists in Omaha, Nebraska who help to put a stop to unwanted dog problems through personalized at home dog training sessions. With different specialists, they are able to help you see the results you want with your dog.

“Passively Training Your Dog By Petting"

A Tip From the BehavioristDavid Codr is the Founder of Dog Gone Problems and the first Dog Behaviorist in NebraskaWorking this technique into your routine is one of the most simple training exercises there is. Passively training your dog takes no more time out of your day the simply turning on the TV or sending a text message and requires nothing more from your dog than their normal everyday behavior

What To Do:

All you need to do is wait for your dog to offer a behavior or action that you like, then simply pet your dog and say a command word for the action within 3 seconds. Since dogs learn through association, consistently petting your pet or giving them attention as soon as they do the desired action, it will start to associate the action with the command word and command word with the reward. With enough repetition, you will be able to say the new command word and your dog will do the action to get the reward.

“Building Training Into Your Routine”

A Tip From The TrainerSamantha Bissell is a Dog Trainer and Behaviorist at Dog Gone Problems as well as a PhD Candidate in Neuroscience specializing in CaninesSo many of us are busy with very little time to “train the dog”. Luckily for us, dogs have very short attention spans meaning that training your dog should never go over 5 minutes. Since dogs (like us) learn best through repetition, consistency and good timing; I like to break up training into manageable pieces throughout the day and incorporate it into my routine. Building training into your routine will help you have a well-behaved dog that doesn’t take away from your busy schedule!

What to Do:

Think of times that you will normally be spending with your dog (such as: feeding, letting them outside, walking) and begin building mini-training sessions around those time periods. A simple way to begin is by asking your dog to sit, then lay down when they go outside or come inside or by teaching your dog to stay while you are getting their food ready. Not only will this make training easier, but your dog will master those commands! Remember to always give yummy treats to reward these good behaviors!

“Teaching Your Puppy”

A Tip From The Puppy Specialist -Lidia Boghean is a Puppy Class Instructor at Dog Gone Problems and is currently studying for her Master’s Degree in Behavioral Psychology.

Owning a puppy is a lot like raising a toddler. There will likely be tantrums, getting into things they’re not supposed to and lots of learning mistakes. Just like it’s a parent’s responsibility to teach their toddlers what to do and what not to do, it is also a responsible puppy guardian’s duty to teach their new pup the same lessons. If we don’t properly teach our puppy how to act, he will instinctively act like a normal puppy and engage in unwanted behaviors like chewing, barking, and relieving himself indoors. It’s essential during this important developmental stage to be both consistent and patient with your pup.

What To Do:

When it comes to training your puppy, patience is key. Because puppies have a very short attention span, limit training sessions to only a few minutes at a time and practice several times throughout the day. It’s best if your puppy is able to nap in between training sessions so what they learned can be consolidated into their long-term memory. Make training an activity that the puppy looks forward to. For example, get excited to train with your dog and break up sessions with some unstructured play time. Remember that if you’re getting frustrated, there is a good chance your puppy is too. Be sure to take a break, have some play time, and try again later. Training a puppy takes time, repetition, and above all, lots and lots of patience.

“Patience, Consistency, Repetition”

A Tip From The Observer -Adam Podraza has taken a step away from the world of dog retail and has grown into the role of Director of Operations at Dog Gone ProblemsAs someone who is not a professional dog trainer or behaviorist, I’d like to share with you some things that I have learned over the years.

  1. Patience Is A Virtue - This old proverbial phrase still rings true, you must remember to be patient with your dog. Just like when we learn a new skill it takes time for us to practice and refine it to perfection.
  2. Practice Makes Perfect - Remember that practicing with your dog is how they learn and refine their skills. Practices should range from being short and structured to passive training and rewarding your dog in your downtime.
  3. Consistency Is Key - Be consistent with your commands and keeping things simple. Avoid confusing your dog with inconsistent command words (“come”, “come here”, “here”, “over here”, etc), choose a single world command and stick to it.
  4. Rinse and Repeat - Having several short training session (5 minutes max) work best for your dog as well as their attention spans.
  5. Take A Break - Be sure to give your dog (and yourself) a rest. If you are getting frustrated your dog probably is as well. Your dog should also have a chance to nap in between training session to help things sink in.

A Tip On Things To Avoid

There are also some things that we should let you know to avoid.

  1. Punishment Over Praise - If your dog does something that they should not be doing, do not punish them for it. Your dog lacks the ability to understand the consequences of misbehaving and they unable to compartmentalize being punished. Consistently praising and rewarding your dog for performing desired behaviors builds their confidence and helps them to associate those behaviors with their rewards.
  2. Dominance Theory - Dominance Theory (or “Balanced Training” as many trainers are now referring to it) is a mixture of praise and punishment in order to intimidate your dog into obeying you. Techniques like this diminish your dog’s self-confidence and can result in an insecure dog who acts reactively or aggressively.
  3. Prong and Shock Collars - The US is one of the only countries that still allow use of these outdated tools. Many trainers continue to incorporate them as they produce an immediate reaction (good or bad) from your dog. Use of these can effect your dog in a similar fashion to the practice of dominance theory, and many pets are injured as a result of improper use.
  4. Not Speaking Up For Your Dog - Remember that your dogs cannot speak for themselves, you must be your dog’s advocate. If you come across a trainer or technique that makes you uncomfortable your dog probably feels the same way. Be their voice and say something about it, don’t force your dog to do something that is not in their best interest. Choose a technique (or a trainer) that is best for you and your dog.

Meet The Author 

Grant Withers

Canine Specialist & Writer

Grant is an award-winning writer for SitStay with a passion for pets and especially dogs! Grant loves writing about furry little goofballs and aims to educate pet parents about anything and everything regarding their dogs.

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