General Training Tips

Improve your dog's manners by following this advice!

Start Positive and End Positive
Train with a positive frame of mind. Do not always look for the negative that your dog does, but reinforce the positive, and end the training session with something the dog does well.

Choose training equipment that suits the needs of your dog. Do not pick something just because everyone else is using it. There is a wide variety of leashes and collars available to make training more enjoyable for you and your dog.

Consistency and Patience
Make sure you use the same commands whether you are training or out for a walk. This will instill in the dog that no matter what is happening, he will have to obey. Also, be patient with your dog as he is learning.

Praise and Reward
Whether you choose to use food and/or toys in training, be sure to always use praise as a reward. Give your dog a little break between exercises to keep the dog motivated. This is especially true when a dog is having problems with a new exercise.

New Obedience and Behavior Exercises
Split into segments all new exercises to be trained. This makes it easier on you and the dog; dogs can only absorb so much in a given period of time. Work without distractions for all new training exercises and then take your dog on "tour" to proof the exercises. They do need to know how to obey whether in public or at home.

Follow Through
Always follow through with an exercise once you start. Do not leave any part of an exercise undone because your dog is deciding this is not what he wants to do. Even if you are still training only segments of an exercise, make sure you complete the task at hand so your dog knows that you are the one to finish. Be fair in your training time. Do not overextend your dog's ability to concentrate.

Terminology and Voice Tone
Choose a command to fit the task. Keep commands short and to the point. Do not cross commands over to different exercises. Example being the word "down." For jumping up, do not use "down" if you are using the word for lying down. As an example, use "off" instead. Do not double command your dog as the word "sit down" does. Use a pleasant voice, not a loud shouting voice or a pleading voice. Dogs respond to crisp, precise voice tone. No need to shout or beg.

It is a must to exercise your dog physically and mentally. If you are having problems like barking, digging or chewing, this may be due to lack of exercise. A walk with your dog is not exercise for your dog, no matter how large or small. Dogs need to run and stretch, so if you do not have a fenced yard, find a safe location to let your dog run. I personally teach all my dogs to retrieve; this is a positive way to release energy and exercise all at once.

Breed of Dog
All dogs were bred for a purpose. Be sure you understand what your dog was bred for. This will help you understand better why your dog does different things or why some breeds train a little easier than others. Remember though, all breeds can be trained if given the time and proper techniques needed for the particular breed of dog being trained.

Rude Dog
Do not let your dog always run up to greet every dog that you encounter. Each dog has a personal zone that they do not want invaded. Some are further out than others are. As an example, to explain what I mean by "Rude Dog," it is like a person you do not know coming up to you and kissing you or hugging you. You obviously would not like it, and that is the same way when dog meets dog. Some of us would not care if a stranger did that to us, but some of us would scream and holler and become quite upset. So when a strange dog approaches your dog and your dog growls or barks, the dog is only telling the other dog to back off, just as we would make noise if a stranger approached us. Do not have a "Rude Dog."

Time Off
Allow your dog to be a dog. If your dog likes to dig, give him a digging place of his own. If your dog likes to chew, supply him with things that he can chew and enjoy without getting in trouble. Your dog cannot be expected to be perfect all the time, as dogs are not machines and cannot be programmed. They are living, breathing beings and have good and bad days just as we do.

Acknowledgment: by Betsy Hamkens,
Positive Motivational Obedience and Agility Instruction,
Mandan, ND.