Misc.

Best Puppy Training Techniques – Some Tips From the Pros

When training a puppy or a dog to do pretty much anything, there are always aspects that are common to pretty much everything.  Rather than write that down 100 times in every article, I’ve decided it is best to outline all of that here on one page.

From my experience in training puppies, these are the most important aspects of training my puppy that  I carry with me in everything I do with her.

puppy-treat

Replace Treats Over Time

As much as doggos love treats, and we love to deliver those treats, it isn’t always in everyone’s best interest.  Yes it is a fact that we use treats to motivate or even maniuplate our dog’s actions to receive the desired effect, but as training goes on, you eventually want to slow down on the calories.

Giving too much treats to your puppy can result in a phenomena I call “SAUSAGE BODY” which is basically where your dog is starting to get a little chubby.

fat-dog

How do we make it so we aren’t constantly force feeding entire meals of treats into our dog’s mouth every training session?

For the first while, while puppy is learning the full trick or command you are trying to teach, you will be giving a lot of treats.  The best way to combat this is to break your treats into significantly smaller pieces.  A dog isn’t able to tell the difference between a large treat or a tiny one.dog-treats

Doing this will make it way easier to make your treats last, and will seriously cut back on the intake of your puppy.

Another thing you are going to want to do is eventually stop giving treats for every successful trick.  This is done by using an increasing interval technique, and then using variable intervals of treats.

Doing this will teach the dog it is just as motivating to do the trick for the possibility of a treat rather than the guarantee of a treat.

Another thing people use to cut treats out of the training routine is using the clicker.  If used properly, clicking the clicker every time you give a treat and major praise teaches the dog the click indicates they’ve done a good job, and their owner (you) is happy.

Eventually, you will only need to use a click to reward the dog.  You won’t even need to give treats, although I still like to give my puppy-girl lots of treats anyway… just cuz!

Consistency is Your Next Best Friend

Dogs are “Man’s Best Friend” indeed, but when it comes to training our best friends, consistency is extremely important.

Making sure the training is done the same way every time, in the same environment, with the same rewards will help teach your puppy until they are comfortable enough to try something new or advance to another step.

I always did our training in the dining room, where there was plenty of space and no distractions.  I found it even helped to close the blinds so my girl wouldn’t catch her eye on someone walking by or a squirrel across the street.

A daily training routine is important.  Much as our children come home with homework after school, our puppies need their education as well.  Daily training, around the same time each day is healthy for both your dog and yourself, as there is a lot of bonding that takes place in addition to learning.

Patience is a Virtue

I am not a person who would call themselves patient.  I in no way will ever declare that.  Having said that, when it comes to training, you will accomplish nothing without a great deal of patience.patient-dog

This is where I struggled the most.  However, through all my efforts I was able to LEARN a great deal of patience from my puppy.  She is a very frustrating dog to work with, and although at times my patience has failed me and I just gave up for the day, I kept going until we both understood each other well enough to accomplish what we wanted.

And that is the important part is that mutual understanding between yourself and your puppy.

Another important key is POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT.  You never want to punish or get mad and yell at your dog.  That will only cause them to fear you, and will send you BACKWARDS by weeks or even months.

If I am struggling to get her to complete the task at hand, I will simply not reward my puppy.  I will continue to work with her until she finally does it right, and then she may have her reward.  I will never tell her no, or get mad at her, or force her into position.

What is Love?  Baby Don’t Hurt Me, No More!

Honestly, I only put that title because I love A Night at the Roxbury.  I think it goes without saying, however, that LOVE and TRUST are the two most important aspects of training your dog.  Without BOTH of those, you will gain nothing.  Neither of you will.

There is no real method to this other than just old fashioned TIME.  Spend tons of time together.  Cuddle, argue, play, and really start to learn everything there is to now about each other.

I know what I can and can not trust my dog with.  She knows what she can and can not trust me with.  We understand each other.  Not a day goes by that we aren’t happy to see each other first thing in the morning, last thing at night, and all throughout the day.

puppy-love

She annoys me, she loves me, she snoots me, and that is a bond I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.  It took a lot of time, and patience and energy into building this bond, and I use the same methods as I do with my kids, and that is how it is done.

I feel like I’m rambling but there is no other way I can say it.  This is an intangible factor that is important in any canine/owner relationship.  You truly must embrace the concept of “man’s best friend”.

If you feel you are ready, take a look at some of our training articles here:

If you have any insights, please share your experiences in the comments below.  If you enjoyed our article or have ideas for other articles, never hesitate to let us know.  We love feedback!!

8 Comments

  • LKick

    Really love this article. Covers so much in such a short space! 

    Training animals in itself is a challenge, but I have a 4 yr. old shelter dog who has been in and out of homes (like a foster child) for so long. When I finally got him home with me … 6 years together now … there was a lot to “untrain”.  

    He was so fearful and it was obvious he was abused. So I give him so much love and now we are doing fine. I appreciate that you are outlining the basic training procedures here. I feel better knowing I am doing something right with this guy!

    By the way, I have a friend who really needs to read your article, so I will recommend it and I know you will be able to help. 

    Thanks for such a caring approach.

    • Nathan Webster

      Thank you so much for reaching out.

      That’s awesome that you adopted a shelter dog.  We were super lucky in that we were able to get our girl as a 9 week old puppy from a shelter, so we didn’t have to struggle with the “untraining” the way you did, but I can certainly see how that would be a challenge all in itself.

      Your comment has inspired me to writing a piece on untraining an older dog or a shelter dog with bad habits, and some ways to overcome that.  Thank you so much for reaching out and for sharing our article with your friends.  That goes a long way toward helping us build our site so we can provide more great content.

      Take Care and thanks again for reaching out.

      Nathan

  • Ronald

    Hi,

    I find this website very informative and I found myself taking key notes on some of your strategies, I found that you must display the same patients you give your kids you must give your dog as well.

    They also feed off our energy and what we put in is what we get out, we often forget how intuitive these animals are and they pick up on all our moods.

    My dog of 12 years passed late last year and I have been very apprehensive about another puppy but after reading your articles they have given me the drive to adopt another one and use some of your tips. 

    Thank you   

    • Nathan Webster

      Hi Ron,

      Thanks so much for reaching out.  I’m really sorry to hear about your dog.  It is hard spending 12 years with a good friend only to have them leave us so soon.

      It pleases me to hear you are adopting.  I am a firm advocate of adopting from shelters, as there are so many dogs put down every year because they just don’t get adopted.  Moreover to that, I hate puppy mills and I would spend my last breath seeing every puppy mill raided and shut down.

      It’s funny you mention that how animals pick up on our moods.  We found that our girl is sensitive to depression, PTSD and anxiety symptoms.  As a result we decided to begin getting her certified as a therapy dog to help others suffering from the same symptoms, which is the whole inspiration behind this site.

      Thank you so much again for checking in, and take care!

      Nathan

  • smctee

    Thank you for sharing this.  For someone who is really getting into dog training with my new fur baby, I needed this.  We are using the clicker/treat combination and it seems to be working really well.  This is the first time I have trained a puppy using both – previously I just used treats as an award and it was definitely hard to wean them off of so many treats.  Since I have been using the clicker and treat combo, I can see how it will be must easier to make that transition when the time is right.  

    I loved your statement “I kept going until we both understood each other well enough to accomplish what we wanted”.  Sometimes it is really easy to get frustrated and give up but if you keep going, it helps build trust and understanding!

    Thank you again for sharing this and providing encouragement in puppy training! 

    • Nathan Webster

      Hi.  Thanks for reaching out and sharing your experience.

      I love that you used a clicker and treat combo.  When I first looked into the concept I thought it was the absolute dumbest idea ever because, like you, I had only ever used treats.

      My wife was the one that took the plunge and started using the clicker and she got WAY better results than me.  I had egg on my face when I finally admitted to her that her method is far better to mine.  Using the clicker just seemed to help her learn things faster as it was an additional form of reward.

      Stay tuned for more great subject matter on the topic.  Thanks again for checking in.

      Nathan

  • Paul

    Dear Nathan,

    Thanks a lot for the informative and helpful post. I am searching for ways to train my puppy and found your amazing post and I got great insights from your post. Sharing from your own experience add more value to this post.

    You hit me on my head when you spoke about consistency, that’s the mistake I am making in training my dog I often take off for few days. My aunt keep on placing food in our puppy plate, you know what, always there will be food in the dog plate when I asked her she says “It can’t ask so poor” already our puppy is in bulk size and struggles to run lol.

    LOVE & TRUST the greatest things in the world and I think I need to spend more time with the puppy. I realized the mistakes I am doing and I will implement what I learned from your post. I am bookmarking your post for future reference.

    Hats off to you for the love you have on your dog, she is lucky to have you.

    Much Success!

    Paul

    • Nathan Webster

      Hi Paul.  Thanks so much for reaching out!

      One of the common misconceptions people have about canine diets is the free feeding principle.  The ONLY time you want to free feed your dog is if they aren’t eating.  It never hurts to get some exercise for your dog either.  What I find is not only is your dog getting exercise but so are we as owners, and I couldn’t think of anything healthier.

      In the future I will have an article about feeding and managing food and portions and all that kind of related info, and when I post that I will let you know.

      Take care for now!

      Nathan

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