Dog Training 101: Important Tips to Keep in Mind

canine undergoing dog training

Dog training is an essential requirement for not only the dog but the dog’s family as well.

We all want that perfect puppy that knows how to let us know when it needs to go potty, that will sit and or come on command, but the sad fact is, that dog needs to be taught how to do it.

Not only will training your dog help them, but it will also help you by being able to show your dog who is the boss in the house, and help you keep the house under control and everyone running as a cohesive unit.

While many pet parents choose to send their new family members to dog training classes or camps, it is vital that you as the owner do some level of training at home with Fido.

Why Dog Training Is Vital

Boy playing with a dog

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Sure, you can send your dog away to training camp, but what you don’t know is that by doing so, you could be missing some vital aspects of the training process.

Yes, training the dog is an important process for the dog, however, it is important for the owner as well because it teaches them who is in charge. You want your pup to learn to respect you as their leader, or “alpha dog” as it is more commonly known in the dog world.

Training is also vital for dogs because they crave activity, especially young dogs. Providing these dogs with command training a few times a day not only get’s them up and moving, but it also helps get their minds moving as well.

Mental stimulation is very important because if your pop gets bored, you can bet that they will find a way to entertain themselves. Whether it be chewing up the furniture, your shoes, or getting into the garbage, you can bet that Fido will have some sort of naughty fun while your away at work or your back is turned.

Finally, training creates a special bond between you and your dog. It helps to create a language between you and the dog, one that will last a lifetime. This is also why it is vital to get the entire family in on the training process. Yes, it’s always good to have at least one individual that the dog will respond to, but if the entire family gets on the same page, then everyone will be able to better understand what your little furball needs.

3 Common Commands and How to Teach Them

One of the best ways to start your dog training is with some simple commands. Ever looked into obedience classes and see that they offer different levels for different abilities? This is because you want to focus on simple tasks at first.

Just like us, dogs will need time to process what it is that you want them to do. Remember, English isn’t their first language, so it’s not going to happen overnight!

So, that being said, let’s take a look at a few simple commands that you can start with your dog.

  • Sit
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Sit is probably one of the easiest commands to teach during dog training, so that’s why many trainers start with it. There are some different ways to go about this command, but you essentially want to get your dog to lower their bottom until it is on the ground and they are “sitting.”

One of the best ways to do this is with a treat. Dogs are very food motivated, so keep much low calorie treats on hand for dog training.

Once you have a treat, make sure the dog knows you have it. Once they do, you want to raise the treat up to a little over their head, causing their bottom to lower down. Some people give their dog a little tap on the bottom with a finger or two as a queue as well. Once your dog is in a sitting position, say “sit,” and give him the treat.

You’ll have to say “sit” after he does the motions a few times then treat him in order to show him that doing so when he hears the word will result in something good. Remember, this won’t happen overnight. You will want to practice this pattern a few times a day, and before you know it, you’ll be able to move away from treats and simply praise him for his good behavior.

  • Down
Dog sitting on the yard

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Once a dog has mastered the “sit” command, down is a good one to follow it up with, even though it can be a little bit trickier for the dog to learn. Being that it is a submissive move, it can be difficult for dogs to want to learn this move on command, so during training, make sure to stay patient and give rewards as needed for good behaviors.

Start by placing a treat in your hand and by Fido’s nose so he can smell that it’s there. Once he knows you have it, tell him to sit. Once he is sitting, begin to lower your hand down to the ground slow enough that he can follow it down. Once he is laying on the ground, say “down” and give him the treat.

This is a move you will want to master with your pup because it will be useful if your dog easily gets rambunctious or jumps at visitors when they walk in through the door. Practice makes perfect, so do this one a few times a day until your dog masters it.

  • Stay
Man train his shepherd dog

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After Fido knows how to sit and lay down, teaching him to stay is another great command because it can help keep them out of trouble.

Have your dog get into the sit or down position. Once they do, you’ll want to open your hand and show them your palm. This is going to be your visual cue for them. While holding your hand up, say stay and take a few steps away. If they dog stays, then reward them with a treat or praise. Each time you practice the command, take a few more steps back, rewarding him each time he listens to the command.

Ways to Motivate Your Dog

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Dog training needs to be fun for the dog, or they will quickly lose interest. So that means coming up with a different way to reward and motivate little Fido. There are two sure-fire ways to get your dog excited for training time: treats and toys.

We know that dogs are food motivated, especially when it comes to their favorite goodies. So, when you want to initiate training time, it can be as simple as shaking Fido’s favorite treat bag. Low-calorie training treats are a great way to get your dog’s attention because you don’t have to worry about spoiling their appetite, and they come in many great flavors to keep him coming back for more.

Toys are another big motivator for many dogs. Sometimes they get used to the food bribes and just need you to change things up. By bringing your pup’s favorite toy into the mix, they will associate their training time with playtime, something they want.

Remember, no two dogs are alike, so while training treats may do the trick for some dogs, others may do better with just the addition of toys! Many times, your dog will make the transition all on their own and not need treats or toys and will simply work on their training just to hear you praise them with a happy “good boy.”

The Do’s and Don’ts of Dog Training

Woman training a canine dog

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We’ve covered a few commands and expectations of dog training above, but it can get a little overwhelming for you when it comes to trying to remember everything you’ve learned. So we have gone ahead and compiled a short cheat sheet of training do’s and don’ts for you to keep in mind or on hand while training little Fido.

  • Do
  • Stay consistent in your actions and expectations during training
  • Keep your dog motivated
  • Stay positive
  • Include the entire family
  • Be consistent with your rewards
  • Use positive reinforcement
  • Get outside help when you are stuck or need it
  • Don't
  • Get negative or use a negative tone during dog training
  • Reward bad behavior
  • Give up when training gets tough
  • Blame the dog for bad behavior, redirect him
  • Expect too much at once/overwhelm your dog

Dog Training is for The Whole Family

With these tips and tricks in mind, it is important to remember that dog training isn’t just for the dog. No, it’s for the entire family.

Remember, this is about more than just getting Fido to do and behave in a certain way, you are creating a bond between each other, and you want that bond to be shared with everyone in your household.

This includes children. Granted, you’ll want to supervise children during dog training carefully, but having them learn that Fido is supposed to listen and obey is essential. You also want Fido to realize that when you aren’t around, the other members of the family are the next in line as pack alpha.

Stay consistent, and before long, you and your dog will be quite literally speaking the same language.

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