How to train your dog? Best dog training tips!

Bringing a new puppy or a dog home is a huge event for the whole family. The moment we look into those goofy, playful eyes of our new furry friend, we start loving it unconditionally. This is also a moment when many new dog owners start wondering how to train a dog.

There is no simple answer to this question because successful dog training depends on so many factors. However, living under one roof with a well-behaving dog is so much more enjoyable than when your dog isn’t trained at all. You don’t necessarily need to visit a dog behaviorist or sign up your pup for training classes at the very beginning. Most of the dog training you can do by yourself at home. Find out how to train your dog and how to avoid unwanted behaviors.

In this article, we gained some of the most essential information and advice on how to train your dog. We asked veterinarians and dog behaviorists to share their experiences with us. With their knowledge, we were able to create this complete and simple guide on how to train your dog properly and help it be successful. 

Read on and find out the answers to the most common dog training questions. In this article, you will learn what is the best time to start training your dog and how often should you train with your pup. You will also understand the fundamentals of positive reinforcement in dog training and how to perform it. Don’t forget to check our crate training, loose leash walking, and potty training tips. We also gathered here the top 8 commands to teach your dog. Let’s start this dog training journey together and help your dog be successful. Remember that a well-trained dog is also a happy dog! 

Best time to start training a dog 

The best moment to start training with your new dog is the moment you bring it home. Especially puppies, but older dogs too should start learning the rules in your house as soon as possible. This is the best way to avoid unwanted behavior and disobedience. 

Training with young puppies is much more effective than training with older dogs because youngsters have better ability for learning and in general are less fearful. For puppies, everything that’s new is exciting and worth exploring. For older dogs, changing current behavior and habits will be more difficult but not impossible. Some of the behaviors learned in puppyhood may need to be changed, so with the adult dogs training should be focused on reteaching and getting rid of bad habits. Your success depends on how dedicated you are to dog training and how much motivation will you and your dog have. 

Formal dog training which includes learning commands, walking on a leash, potty training, and others can start around 8 weeks old. Dogs are most likely to develop proper habits between 8 weeks old and 8 months old. After that time their ability to learn decreases and learning new things takes more time. [1]

How often to train with a dog 

Since puppies have short attention spans, make sure you don’t overtrain them. For young puppies short and sweet training sessions repeated multiple times throughout the day will be best. A five-minute mental training is enough for an 8-week old puppy. The older your pup gets, the longer and more intense training sessions can be. 

When you’re dealing with an older dog your training sessions may be much longer. You can take your dog for an hour or two to a park and train different commands outside. Observe your dog at all times and make sure it stays focused on the training purpose. Repeat training every single day, at least three short sessions a day. [1]

Positive reinforcement in dogs training

Positive reinforcement is a training method for young and older dogs which you should well understand and introduce to your dog. Positive reinforcement training will be fun both for you and your pooch. What is most important, it is claimed as one of the most effective ways of teaching dogs different commands and establishing the wanted behavior. [2]

What positive reinforcement is

Positive reinforcement training is often called force-free training or punishment-free training. It means rewarding a dog immediately after a wanted behavior occurs. This makes the frequency of good behavior go up. 

For example, when you ask your pup to sit down and it sits, give him immediately a treat. This is something added which reinforces good behavior. The dog starts to understand those good things happen after doing what you say. With this method, your dog is more likely to sit down quickly the next time you ask.

Rewards used in positive reinforcement

For this training method, food is the best reward to use. Almost all dogs love food and they are most likely to do things we ask after a snack promise. Food is also an efficient reward because it can be given to dogs right away. With little training snacks, you can do many repetitions of the same command one time after another. Also, a good idea is training with your dog at mealtime. Your dog will be more successful with the promise of a bowl full of good stuff waiting for it. 

How to perform food lure training

Food lure is a great idea for navigating your dog and teaching it commands. For example, you can try holding a snack over your pup’s nose and move it slowly backward. This way your dog will follow and get into a sitting position. You may also draw the snack down to the ground and this will make your dog follow into the down position. Food lure is also extremely efficient while teaching your dog to come, stay, and walking on a loose leash.

Crate training tips

A crate can be a very effective item in your dog’s training. The key to making your dog love their crate is proper crate training which takes some time. Remember that crate training has nothing to do with imprisoning your pup. 

The goal of crate training is to make your dog understand that crate is a truly happy place, which belongs to the dog and nobody else. In crate only good things happen, so that’s why after some training dogs begin to look forward to spending calm and relaxed time in there. 

Successful crate training has many benefits. It speeds up the house training process, keeps your pup safe when you cannot supervise it, and prepares your pet for long travels and vet visits. 

Teach your dog from the very beginning to spend the whole night in their crate and establish a solid crate training routine. Reward your pup with treats each time it sits in its crate quietly. Make sure that the crate is not too small and not too big for your pup. It should be big enough that your dog can comfortably lay down there. Make it safe and cozy. You might add bedding when your dog is not having any accidents at home anymore. Give your dog as much time as it needs to accept its crate. [3]

Loose leash walking tips 

Loose leash training can make your walking with a dog experience much more enjoyable both to you and your dog. To teach your puppy to stop pulling on the leash find a peaceful environment with as few distractions as possible. Also train with your dog before mealtime, because your pooch will be more motivated then and training treats will do a better job. 

Start walking with your dog and stop immediately when your dog starts pulling. Start walking again when your pup is close to your leg. Whenever it makes even a few steps close to you reward with a treat. You may also lure your dog with a snack while moving forward. [4]

Potty training tips

Potty training is a long process and how much time it takes is individual for each dog. The best tips for speeding up the potty training are: stick to a feeding schedule, use a crate and take your pup out often. 

The general rule says that a puppy can hold its bladder as many hours as many months old it is. So if your pup has 3 months old it can hold it for 3 hours, if 6 months old, for 6 hours. Also, always reinforce positive behavior by giving treats to your dog each time it relieves itself outside. [5]

Top 8 commands to teach your dog

Make sure you teach your dog these 8 most basic commands which will not only help you communicate more efficiently with your dog but also may have a huge impact on your dog’s safety. Start with teaching your dog to react to its name. Then practice the “sit-dow” and “lay down” command. These will help your dog calm down in some situations. 

The “come” command is especially useful during walks and playtime as well as the “leave it” command. That one can save your dog’s life whenever it grabs something appropriate with the intention to eat it. Especially young puppies explore the whole world with their mouth, so imagine the tragedy when your dog accidentally swallows your medicine or a piece of trash. Other useful commands to teach your dog are “stay”, when you don’t want your dog to follow you everywhere, and “go to a place” which may help your dog rest properly. You can also teach your dog funny commands such as “high five” or “paw”.

There we are! Thank you for reading our article on how to train your dog. We hope that all the information provided here will be useful for your house training. Our experts: veterinarians and dog behaviorists did their best to provide you with the most essential information and most useful tips and tricks to use while training a dog. 

Now you know when is the best time to start training your pup and how often should you train. Positive reinforcement should be no surprise to you now, as well as different kinds of lures to use while training. We hope that with our crate training, loose leash walking, and potty training tips your dog will be successful in no time. [6]

Remember, be patient and understanding for your dog. Exactly like humans, dogs need time to process new information and commands. Start with the essentials and teach your dog one of the top 8 commands which we explained to you. Don’t waste your time and start training with your dog right now. You and your furry friend will get off on the right foot in no time, we promise! 

Cynthia L. Collins

Cynthia L. Collins

Devoted dog lover, a dog mom to her two rescued Shih Tzus Romeo and Elvis, and an Australian Shepherd, Bandit. When she isn’t working, she volunteers in a local shelter and various animal welfare organizations.

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