19 Tips for How to Train a Dog

Elvis Elvis

Never trained a dog before? Or do you just need a reminder? This post is all about the basics on how to train a dog! I’ll show you how I taught my dog to do some amazing dog tricks and give you lots of free dog training advice.

Dog training is important for a safe, healthy and problem free relationship with your dog, and I think positive dog training is the best way to achieve a happy relationship with your dog.

Positive dog training is about paying attention to wanted behaviours and rewarding them, and mostly not paying attention to when your dog doesn’t do as you say.

Studies have shown that the more you pay attention to (or punish) problem behaviours, the more problem behaviours you’ll get. On the other hand, the more you pay attention to (or reward) good behaviours, the more good behaviours you’ll get.

When the dog is being punished, it most often doesn’t even understand why, which makes punishing a whole lot more complicated than rewarding.

This does not mean that you never should say no to your dog. On the contrary, it is important that your dog really knows what no means.

An effective ‘No’ breaks of a dog’s present behaviour and makes him attentive to you. The ‘No’ remains effective when you use it sparingly, only for behaviours you need to break of instantly.

19 Tips for How to Train a Dog

Follow the tips on this list and you will be able to teach your dog easy dog tricks, amazing dog tricks or just to be obedient!

19 Free Basic Dog Training Tips:

  1. Timing
    Reward wanted behaviour the instant it happens! The better your timing, the faster the learning.
  2. Consistency
    Be consistent, never reward unwanted behaviours. If you don’t want your dog to beg for food at the table, don’t ever give him anything there. The worst thing you can do to a dog is confusing it, by not following your own rules.
  3. Expectations
    Don’t expect your dog to know something after only a few repetitions. Your dog will get confused and unmotivated if you expect too much too fast.
    19 Tips for How to Train a Dog
  4. Mood
    Your dog picks up on when you’re feeling angry, stressed or irritated, so always train when you’re in a good mood.
  5. Reward
    Use a reward your dog likes, and he will be motivated to try to find out what it is you want him to do.
  6. Ignoring
    Ignoring your dog’s unwanted behaviours or distracting them lead to less of those behaviours, and paying attention to and rewarding wanted behaviour leads to more of these.
  7. Nagging
    Don’t repeat the command more than twice, either your dog doesn’t know what your asking of him or he doesn’t like the reward, but either way you will only sound nagging if you keep repeating the commands and they will get less and less effect if you keep going.
  8. Be Certain
    Only command things you are sure your dog knows how to do. If your dog isn’t sure of what to do when he hears the command, it’s best if you keep showing him until he knows for sure.
  9. Be Clear
    Be clear in your body language. Hand or body motions make it easy for your dog to learn fast.
  10. Voice
    Say each command in a calm and clear voice, so your dog really notices what you’re saying.
    19 Tips for How to Train a Dog
  11. Repetition
    Repeat until your dog is sure of what to do, but don’t overdo it. Too much repetition in one training session will make your dog bored of the task, unless you constantly increase the reward.
  12. Short
    Have short and fun training sessions often, even a few times a day if you want to make faster progress.
  13. Irregularity
    When your dog gets surer of the task, you can give rewards more irregularly, but keep giving vocal praise so your dog knows he is doing it right. Give a reward every now and then so your dog stays motivated.
  14. Take A Break
    If your dog does it wrong it’s most often because he doesn’t understand it yet or because he is focused on something else. So take a break or just try again.
  15. Keep it Simple
    Don’t demand of your dog to learn too many new things at once. He may get confused and mix it all up.
  16. Environment
    It can be hard for your dog to follow your commands in different environments than what he is used to train in. Therefore, gradually change the surroundings and don’t demand of your dog to know exactly how you want him to behave in environments you haven’t trained in yet.
  17. Disturbance
    Your dog may be sensitive to environmental disturbances, like cars, people, other animals, new scents, loud noises, rainy weather etc. and loose concentration more easily. Introduce the disturbances you want your dog to behave in and follow your commands in slowly, successively one at a time and increase the rewards while doing this.
  18. Patience
    Have patience, your dog wants to cooperate, even though it can be hard for him sometimes. When your dog is disobedient you might think he is defiant and wants to disobey, but most often he just doesn’t understand what you want.
  19. Ending
    End your training sessions when it is going great! 19 Tips for How to Train a Dog

Hopefully this list of free basic dog training tips gave you some pointers on how to train a dog!

Of course, sometimes you don’t want to train at all. When I don’t feel like training anything, I play a game with my dog instead. Games to play with dogs are fun and result in a calm, sleepy and happy dog!

Pick the right reward for your dog!

Now that you know how to train a dog, you’ll need to pick the right reward for your own dog. Dogs, just like humans, all like different things.

It’s up to you to find the reward that makes your dog motivated to listen to you. Of course you often use more than one thing to reward your dog.

  • Some dogs are the happiest when they get praise, vocally and/or physically.
  • Other dogs love to play tug-of-war, fetch toys or a ball and it will make a great reward for them.
  • Many dogs are happiest to receive food and yummy treats as rewards.

Which reward motivates your dog can be different depending on the surroundings. If you’re training at home, your dog may be perfectly happy to receive a little kibble for his efforts.

But if you change the surroundings, for example if you’re training outside where there are people, new smells or dogs, you may need to change the reward as well.

In an environment with lots of things going on your dog may have a hard time concentrating or find everyone else more interesting than you, unless you’re more fun of course!

How You Keep Play Rewards Fun

If you want your dog to like ‘play’ as a reward, don’t use both treats and play as reward in the same training session.For example: you play tug-of-war as a reward and every time your dog lets go of the toy you give him an additional reward, a treat. If your dog truly likes treats more, he will realise that he will get one sooner if he does not play.