If you want your dog to be smart and obedient, training them is extremely necessary. Think of it as preparing your pup for a lifetime of good behavior and companionship. Every single dog expert, trainer, and blogger has their own long laundry list of dog training advice. Instead of getting tangled in this never-ending web, we’ve picked out the absolute dog training essentials. Whether you just brought home a new puppy, rescued a shelter dog, or want to reinforce training for your older dog, there are important skills to teach your furbaby.
In the end, training a dog is all about guiding your pup to live a safe and happy life in their environment. But before you start, you should review the basics of dog training. In our article, we’ll cover commands, behaviors, and supplies to help you get started on training your pooch. If you want to get the most out of dog training, keep on reading to learn about some helpful tips and tools.
Table of Contents
Step 1: Keeping Your Dog Engaged During Training
Training is an exciting part of having a new pup. The bonding experience you will have is absolutely beautiful. New tricks, better communication, and strengthening your companionship will be beneficial for the both of you.However, it can also be very frustrating. Some dogs just don’t seem that interested. Or maybe their boundless energy keeps them from staying entirely focused. Here are some tips to keep your dog engaged for better training sessions:
For High Energy Dogs
Dogs with a ton of energy can be easily distracted during training sessions and more interested in running around or jumping. For these dogs, learning the basics, like sit, stay, and down are very important to keep them well mannered. However, it will be extra challenging because they want to keep moving.
In this case, give your dog some exercise before training sessions. It will help get their energy out and concentrate better. On the plus side, high energy dogs make great students in the end. They will be more likely to repeat good behaviors over and over, especially if they are rewarded or praised.
Dogs Who Are Not Motivated by Treats
Does your pup seem unimpressed with treats? For most pet owners, treats are very helpful for training a dog. On the other hand, a canine who doesn’t want the reward will often disengage during training. But, almost every dog has some sort of food that motivates them. It may not always be their kibble, or a dry, hard dog treat. Some foods like cheese, pepperoni, or even salmon, could interest your dog to want to learn.
Yet, if those options don’t entice your dog, try using a special toy as a reward instead of food. Playing with your dog will excite them! Tug toys are recommended for a great training tool because you are also engaging in the fun. Sometimes you may need to be more creative. For example, if your dog loves to chase rabbits or squirrels, find a toy that looks like one of those and use that as motivation.
Dogs who are anxious or reactive will get distracted by strange noises, new people, or unfamiliar scents. For these dogs, the length of training sessions can be very important. Try very short sessions (about 10 minutes) throughout the day instead of one long session. You should also use a lot of reinforcement like praise, treats, or toys. Furthermore, anxious dogs should be trained in quiet, non-distracting locations. As your pup becomes more confident in familiar settings, you can gradually bring new distractions into their settings.
Step 2: Basic Training Techniques
Let’s start with the first thing every owner wants: a potty trained pup! Potty training a dog takes a lot of patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement. Here are some of the basics that will help your dog to learn this skill:
Supervision – When you’re just starting to house train your puppy, you should limit their access to most parts of the house. This could be getting doggie gates, closing off doors, or crate training. We’ve checked out some top-notch gates in our article The Best Dog Gates. Plus, crates can be very beneficial for dogs because it helps your furry friend feel as if they have their own space.
Set A Routine – Setting routines is a great way to teach your dog structure and balance. To help nail down a great doggie routine, check out our informative article Setting a Great Routine for Your Dog. By feeding your dog at the same time each day or having regularly spaced potty breaks, they will be conditioned to do certain things at a set time each day.
Don’t Punish Your Dog – A young puppy is still learning and accidents will happen. Even when times get tough, you should keep in mind that dogs don’t understand punishment the same way people do. It can be frustrating, but just remember it will get better with patience and consistency!
Reward Your Dog – Where punishment doesn’t help train your pooch, rewards absolutely do! Give your dog a treat as soon as she goes to the bathroom in the correct spot. You should also praise them with words like “yes!” and “good boy/girl!”. Your dog will feel the energy and praise in your voice.
Giving your dog commands is an important skill they need to possess for both safety and good behavior. Imagine if your pup runs off and they don’t understand any command to stop or come back! Not only will it give you a metaphorical heart attack, but their safety is now out of your hands. Some commands that are helpful to use include:
Come – This is one of the most important skills for a dog to have because it will keep them safe from potentially dangerous situations. Reward them with treats and a lot of praise every time your dog comes when called. Coming to you should be the highlight of their day! To start, put them on a leash in a quiet area. Back away from them while telling them to “come” in an enthusiastic voice. Give them command only once and keep your body language relaxed and open.
If you need further assistance, show your dog a treat to encourage them to go to you. Once they go toward you, say “yes!” and reward them with a treat. Over time, you will be able to increase the distance between you and your dog.
Sit – This command is usually the first one pet owners teach, because it is useful in so many situations. In fact, most dogs will sit on their own, so it is easier to connect the command to the behavior. First, while your dog is standing, hold a treat in front of their nose and push gently on their backside, so they are guided to sit down. Once their butt hits the floor, say your praise word like “yes!” or “good boy/girl” and give them a treat.
Stay – Teaching your dog the command “stay” will prevent them from wandering away from you or getting themselves into harmful situations. There are three training techniques to teach this skill including distance, duration, and distraction. To begin, start up close to your dog and place them in a sit or down position. Hold your hand out in front of them and say “stay.” After a few seconds of your dog staying, give them a reward. Repeat this until your dog gets the idea of staying in order to get a treat.
After several training sessions, try increasing your distance between you and your dog and also the duration before you release them. If you think they are ready, introduce distractions to test their obedience.
Lay Down – Like “sit,” training your dog the “lay down” command is easier to do with a treat. First, start with your dog sitting in front of you. Hold the treat near their face and move the treat straight to the floor, and then slowly away from the dog. They will follow the treat by moving their front paws forward, which will lead to them lying down. It is important to be clear with your movements, and be patient! Once your dog lies down, say “yes!” and reward them.
Settle – If your pup is anxious or fearful, teaching your dog “settle” is a helpful way to manage their reactions. To start training your dog to “settle,” put them on a leash and take a seat. Step on the leash so your dog has only enough room to sit, stand, and turn around. Next, wait and see if they try to jump on your lap or run around the room. Once your dog realizes they can’t go anywhere, they will settle down on their own. Once this happens, say “yes!” and give them a treat. Repeat this until they listen to the command on their own.
Step 3: Essential Dog Training Supplies
6 in 1 Puppy and Dog Training Essential Kit
The Pups N’ Tails 6 in 1 Puppy and Dog Training Essential Kit is great for new puppies. It helps to not only train them, but it comes with a pouch to hold all of their toys and treats, and even your personal items. For the ultimate convenience, the pouch is easy to clean and can be worn in 3 different ways. Plus, it includes an easy-to-open dog poop bag that will be available exactly when you need it.
Another feature is the ultrasonic stop-bark adjustable pitch whistle. With this item, you will be able to easily train your dog. With various frequencies, the whistle helps to control your dog’s barking and teach your dog many different commands. It will not hurt your dog’s ears and comes with a lanyard neck strap. Additionally, the Pups N’ Tails 6 in 1 Puppy and Dog Training Essential Kit comes with a clicker that has three adjustable click sounds. It not only fits nicely in your hand, but it comes with a wrist strap for a more comfortable hold when training your dog. The button presses easily without getting stuck and has an adjustable sound setting.
The kit also includes doorbells to help with house training. This includes 7 high quality bells for your dog to communicate with you. Doggie doorbells are an excellent tool for your furbaby to ring when they need to go outside and use the restroom. An added bonus to this kit is a collapsible bowl with a clip to hydrate your dog while out training. It is lightweight, so it’s easy to store and bring with you on your adventures.
2. 101 Dog Tricks: Step by Step Activities to Engage, Challenge, and Bond with Your Dog
It’s not uncommon to prefer a paper print version for a great dog training resource. Some owners love stocking up on go-to books they can grab at a moment’s notice. The 101 Dog Tricks book by Kyra Sundance is an international bestseller with over a half-million copies sold worldwide. Essentially, this book features step-by-step instructions with easy to follow photos. What’s great about this book is that each trick has a difficulty rating and prerequisites to help get you started. Plus, the book covers common problems you may have and how to build on each new skill.
Furthermore, tricks range from simple ones like sit, shake, fetch, and roll over, to harder tricks such as tidying up their toy box and getting a soda from the fridge. The book is organized by different themes to make it easier to find the trick. Some of these themes include:
Chores: get your leash, grab the newspaper
Funny Tricks: doggy push-ups and play the piano
Dancing: moonwalk, chorus line kicks
Love: kisses, wave goodbye
3. EcoCity Upgrade Version Dog Training Clicker
The EcoCity Dog Training Clicker is great for training puppies and young adult dogs. It has an elastic wrist wrap and fits nicely in your hand. The button presses easily for a sound that is not too loud or soft. Not only does this clicker train dogs, but also cats, birds, chickens, sheep, and even mice. It’s available in four different colors including red, black, blue, and white.
A clicker should be associated with good behavior. Ideally, you should click it each time your dog follows a command correctly. Also, you should give your dog a treat after you use the clicker. This will help your dog associate the clicker with positive rewards. As a tip, don’t use the clicker to get your dog’s attention. When doing this, it can make your dog confused and interfere with relating the clicker to positive behavior.
4. AmazonBasics Pet Training and Puppy Pads
House training can be difficult; that’s where the AmazonBasics Pet Training and Puppy Pads come in. Each pad measures 22×22 inches with a center pad measuring 19 x 19 inches. The pads have a 1.5-inch plastic border on all sides to prevent overflow. Additionally, they are super-absorbent and turns liquid to gel upon contact. Not to mention, they are also leak proof with plastic linings to prevent damage to the floors.
The quick dry surface has a built-in attractant that guides dogs toward them when they need to go to the bathroom. The regular size training pads are suitable for puppies and small dogs only, and the extra-large pads are suitable for medium to large dogs. To see more options for potty training pads, head on over to our review on Eco Friendly Puppy Pads.