Training Tips: 22 Great Ideas To Help You Train Your Dog in 2020

Training your dog should be fun! But it can also be quite challenging. Especially if your dog is young, bouncy and strong!

I’ve selected some helpful tips for you below.

I’d like to help as many people as I can and so I’ve also set up regular tips by email which will answer many of your questions.

Okay! Now for some tips you can start working on right away.

Sometimes the simplest tip can make the biggest difference to the pleasure you get from training your dog.

Here are some of my favorites, together with a few important rules that will help you have more fun with your Labrador.

#1 Build a dog training habit

Training a dog takes time and needs to be done regularly.

Like any other demand on your time, you are most likely to stick with it, if you make your dog training sessions a daily habit.

Habits are hard to make, but hard to break. So making good habits is always worthwhile.

Motivating yourself

Pick a time to start when your motivation is high!  A New Year, a new month, a birthday.. these are often powerful motivators for us.

Rewarding your dog is good, but you need to reward yourself after each training session too – spend five minutes doing something YOU really enjoy.

#2 Getting started

Link your dog training sessions to something else you do every day. Sessions don’t need to be long, especially in the beginning.

Getting the habit going should be your priority. And experts reckon it takes from 30 to 60 days of daily commitment to get a habit well established.

Five minutes training after the school run each day, or when you get home from work, will work wonders if you do it religiously every day.

Later, when the habit is well established you can skip a day if you need to, or train for longer if you want to. But in the beginning, aim for short sessions every day.

#3 Choose the right rewards

Choosing the right treat for the skill you are training today, is critical.  And your ability to make the right choice will improve with practice.

The most important factors which will influence your choice will be

• Preference
• Distractions
• Hunger

Each of these factors work together and against each other.  If your dog prefers roast chicken to sausage,  you may still find training with sausage is effective, until you increase the distractions around him.

Then you may need to switch to chicken for a while.

Unless of course he is very hungry indeed, in which case sausage may work just fine!

Special or unusual foods often make better training treats.  If your dog gets kibble for every meal, kibble is not going to cut the mustard.

Not unless he hasn’t eaten for 48 hours.

While it makes sense not to try and train a dog that has just ‘stuffed his face’ we don’t want to starve our dogs. So when distractions are increased, we may need to offer better treats for a while.

#4 Learn to use an event marker

An event marker is one of the most useful dog training tools you will ever possess.

This is because it is so easy to reward the dog at the wrong time and reinforce the wrong behavior, and an event marker avoids this problem completely.

Your event marker makes a distinctive sound that lets the dog know exactly what the reward is for. The most common event marker is a clicker, but you can also use a word.

Using an event marker is a skill.  It does not come naturally and you will need to improve your timing and co-ordination.

You can practice by watching a TV programme and ‘marking’ a specific type of behavior,  such as an arm lift or a smile.  Practice on your kids, or your cat!

Just don’t use it around your dog, until you have mastered the skill of clicking when you observe a change in behavior, with a reasonable level of competence.

It won’t take you long, and you will continue to improve after you have started training your dog.

#5 Start easy

It ought to go without saying that easy tasks need to be learned before hard ones.

The reason many people fail with this, is because they don’t realize what is easy for a dog and what is hard.

It’s common for people to think a dog is being naughty if he obeys the word sit in your back yard, but won’t obey the word sit at the dog park. The truth of course is that sit is much harder for your dog where there are distractions.

The right short term goal is one that stretches your dog just a little, but that is attainable within a training session or two.

#6 Pick the right goals for your dog

Modern dog training methods focus on training good behaviors IN rather than training bad behaviors OUT.

Thus we train dogs to SIT to be petted rather than trying to STOP them jumping up.

This makes sense because there are often many different ways for a dog to be bad, and usually just one way for him to be good.

Whatever you are trying to teach make it easy for yourself and figure out what that ONE way is.

Decide what you want the dog TO DO, not which of the many alternatives you don’t want him to do.

#7 Sandwich the hard stuff!

Sandwiches are very important in dog training, though maybe not the sort of sandwiches you had in mind.

Memory is a funny thing.  We tend to remember things best if they happened at the beginning or the end of a particular event or time period.

Sandwiches can help you to keep your Labrador’s confidence high, whilst ‘stretching’ him just a little bit more each time you train.   And no,  we are not talking about edible sandwiches here!

This is about sandwiching the hard tasks between two easy ones.

Each time you challenge your dog,  it is a really good idea to ‘sandwich’  the most challenging or stretching thing you ask him to do,  in between two simpler versions of the same task.

Yesterday your dog sat perfectly still for 10 seconds,  ten yards away from you. Today you want him to sit for 15 seconds at the same distance.  Here is what I would do.
• Sit 1: 6 seconds
• Sit 2: 15 seconds
• Sit 3: 3 seconds

The sandwich ensures that the dog begins and ends with success. It gives him confidence and helps him to remain stoic about the extra time you have added on in the middle.

I use sandwiches a lot in dog training. They are a great way to ‘set the dog up to win’.

#8 Avoid punishing your dog

Several studies have shown that punishment, even mild punishment, interferes with learning.

It causes some dogs to shut down so they cannot learn and appear increasingly stupid.

And it causes some dogs to become ‘hard’ so that increasingly harsh punishments are required to get the same results.

Using punishment also impedes your ability to become more skilled in positive reinforcement training – and thus increases the likelihood that you will resort to punishment in the future.

Most worryingly, punishments of any kind have been shown to increase the risk of a dog becoming aggressive.

A punishment is anything that diminishes behavior – you don’t need to frighten or hurt your dog to be punishing him. It really is an outdated dog training tool and best avoided.

#9 Teach your dog to work for food

There are lots of ways to reward a dog without food, from affection to games and access to activities that are intrinsically attractive to most dogs such as hunting scent.

Food however, is supremely useful, especially in early training.

If you dismiss the use of food you are doing the equivalent of trying to train a dog with one hand tied behind your back.

Some dogs that have not been used to food rewards, ignore them to begin with.

But you can teach any dog the useful skill of working for edible rewards. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity with your dog.

#10 Manage your dog outdoors

Some dogs can become a problem outdoors if they are not properly supervised.

There are dogs that can just be allowed to trot along on a walk, without any intervention from their owner, and that never become a problem.

dog-training-tips-outdoorsBut for many young dogs, a certain amount of management on a walk, can make the difference between a dog that is a pleasure, and a dog that is a nightmare on walks.

Running off, pestering other people and chasing wildlife are common activities in young labradors that are not well supervised outside.

Managing your dog means engaging him in games, and activities at intervals during the walk to keep him focused on you and responsive to you.

#11 Do the recall challenge test!

Recall is so important and recall outdoors can be very challenging.

One thing that can really help you, is teaching your dog how to recall away from really tasty or attractive things, at home where you can control the outcome.

Try this recall challenge test

Place some tasty treats in a bowl.  Little lumps of meat or cheese is fine,  or you can use pieces of your dog’s kibble.

Let the dog see what is in the bowl, but don’t give it to him.

Now place the bowl on a raised work surface where the dog can see but not reach it.

Whilst the bowl has his full attention,  walk to the other side of the room and give a single recall command.

What does your dog do?

Does he rush to you and then back to the bowl again? If so, perfect.

Go with him to the bowl, give his a piece of the food from the bowl and congratulate yourself.

Your dog has already learned to look to you for the good things in life.  This is a great basis for training and teamwork.


Time to teach?

Many dogs however, will simply be unable to tear themselves away from the bowl, and will gaze lovingly at it whilst trying to ‘wish’ the contents into their tummies.

Some will bounce up and down in the hopes of defeating gravity.

These dogs have not yet grasped the idea that they can get you to help them.

It’s time to teach your dog that you are the provider of all good things.
You can ‘capture’ or ‘shape’  this new skill.

Capturing

After giving your single recall command, you can wait the dog out. Stay where you are and wait for him to give up his futile quest for the food.

You can encourage him to you with squeaky noises if you wish, but don’t repeat your recall.

When he eventually comes to you, tell him ‘GOOD’ and immediately go with him to the bowl and give him a piece of the food.

Repeat the process until he is rushing to you each time you call.  Give him a piece of food each time.

Shaping

If you wish, you can ‘shape’ the recall away from the food.  Instead of waiting for the dog to come right to you, you can reward him for just glancing in your direction.

When he is repeatedly looking at you to earn his reward, you can ask him to turn towards you, then eventually to take a step towards you, and so on.

Finish up with asking for a full recall before he gets his reward.

Expanding the concept

Recalling away from a ‘nice thing’ is so important that it is worth spending some time on this useful concept.

You can teach your dog to recall away from people, and even other dogs, all in the comfort of your home.

It is a good idea to do this before taking these exercises outdoors.

You can find many examples of these, and other recall exercises in my book  Total Recall

#12 Train for distractions

Don’t assume your dog will generalize what he learns at home, to the very different situations he encounters in new locations. He won’t.

Retrain all the skills your dog has learned at home, in each new environment he encounters.

Proof his recall, his loose leash walking, and other basis skills, against the presence of other dogs and people.

The time spent on this stage of training is worth its weight in gold.

#13 Use a training lead

We couldn’t make a collection of modern dog training tips without including the all important training lead or line.

When you first train your dog in the presence of distractions you need to prevent him helping himself to rewards – such as playing with other dogs – if he doesn’t obey you.

The training lead is your friend, because it helps you prevent the dog grabbing these ‘rewards’ after being naughty. It puts you where you should be, in charge of all rewards.

The best way to do this, is to have your dog drag a training line until you are confident he has understood your commands apply when there are ‘other dogs around’ or when he is ‘on the beach’ or ‘at the dog park’.

The new biothane training lines are light, tangle resistant, and easy to clean.

Always attach your dogs training lead to a well made harness.

#14 Fake it till you make it

How do you teach your dog not to jump at old ladies, steal ice creams from children, or not to run off every time he sees another dog in the distance?

It is not as if these things happen every single day. So how to you train for them?

The answer is you need to fake it!

Setting up fake training scenarios at home and in public places is a vital part of successful dog training. And it requires two things:

  • A friend
  • A training lead

You will need a friend, or friends to help you set up your fake scenarios. You cannot do this on your own.

If your dog behaves badly when other people are around, you can use a friend to set up the kinds of situations where he goes wrong, in easy stages, so that he can learn how to cope. I will give you an example in a moment.

If your dog behaves badly around other dogs, you will need a friend with a dog, so that you can practice how to behave near other dogs.

Using a training lead is a great way to prevent your dog helping himself to rewards after he has been ‘bad’.

The kinds of rewards that dogs commonly take for themselves are ‘games with other dogs’, ‘running up’ to strangers and ‘jumping’ on them, joining in children’s games uninvited, chasing leaves, and so on.

Anything that your dog enjoys doing can be used by him, as a reward.

An example of a fake it till you make it!

Here is an example of a fake scenario to help a dog that will not walk nicely on a lead past other dogs.

You cannot attempt this until your dog will walk nicely on the lead at home and where there are no other dogs around.

You will need a friend with a dog that will sit and stay calm whilst on a lead.

If your friend is training her dog too, you can take turns to be ‘the distraction dog’.

If you have a large garden you can do this at home, otherwise you will need to go to an open space early in the morning or when the weather is bad, in order to avoid other people distracting your dog.

Seated distraction dog

Ask your friend to sit her dog next to her, and 20 to 30 feet away from you. This is the seated distraction dog.

Now you need to behave as though the other dog is not there. And to practice lead walking up and down, well away from your friend and her dog. Do not approach them. If you are training with treats use some very tasty and special ones here.

Walk in a neat circle or square, walk up and down an imaginary line, stop and start, ask your dog to sit every now and then. Keep him focused and concentrating on you.

When he is successful and only then, you can move 10 feet nearer to your friend and repeat. Gradually work your way nearer until your dog can heel in a square around and close to your friend.

Now move right back to thirty feet away.

Moving distraction dog

This time, have your friend walk her own dog around in a small area 30 feet away, whilst you do the same with your dog. Each dog must focus on his own handler, and not on the other dog.

Gradually, as the dogs succeed, bring them closer together until eventually you can have one dog making a small circle inside the circle made by the larger dog. Have the two dogs moving in opposite directions so they have to walk past facing each other.

Vary the drills and keep practicing. Try walking up and down an imaginary line with you and your dog on one side, and your friend and her dog on the other.

Reduce the space between the dogs until they almost brush past one another without breaking focus on their handlers.

Taking your time

Getting to this point takes time. Depending on the dogs it will take several sessions.

These kinds of exercises can also be practiced in a good training class. Check out the APDT website for training sessions in your area.

Diluting distractions

You can see that the principle here is to ‘dilute’ the power of the distraction to begin with. Often diluting a distraction means moving it further away, or moving your dog further away from it.

Remember, no dog is going to cope with huge distractions without this kind of preparation. You have to fake it, to make it!

#15 Film yourself

It is often impossible to spot flaws in your own performance or to figure out what you are doing wrong, without some kind of feedback or perspective.

The advent of smartphone have transformed this aspect of dog training, because a great way to get this feedback and perspective is to film yourself.

You can easily do this with a smart phone and a gadget for steadying it. I use a GorillaPod, which can act as a miniature tripod or be wrapped around a branch or rail.

#16 Plan for problems

This is about anticipating trouble. Because trouble WILL happen.

Don’t assume you have a field or the beach to yourself just because it is early in the morning.

Do assume another dog will come bowling up at any minute to interrupt you and PLAN what you are going to do when he does.

Don’t go out without your ‘training lead’ or any of the rewards you need to have ready when your dog is successful.

Be prepared for every eventuality!

#17 Drop your standards

“What’s that?” you say. “DROP your standards!” “Have you gone mad?”.

Nope, I haven’t gone mad. Dropping standards, or lowering the demands you make on the dog during training is very important at certain times.

You do it whenever you add or increase a second factor of difficulty. Here’s an example:

You want your dog to sit and stay when you walk ten yards away from him.

Assuming you have already taught your dog to sit and stay AT YOUR SIDE for two minutes (some people unwittingly skip this bit) the next task is adding distance.

Moving away from your dog makes the sit stay harder for him.

So you need to make the duration of the task much easier to begin with – forget two minutes – make it ten seconds. Or less.

Build up duration back up at ten yards. When you increase distance again, drop the duration again.

If you add a third factor of difficulty – other dogs for example – drop the duration AND the distance.

#18 Find a positive trainer

It is entirely possible to train a dog yourself without ever visiting a professional dog trainer or attending a puppy class.

find-the-right-trainerIn fact, if you can’t find the right class or the right trainer you are probably better off figuring things out for yourself. Or taking one of our online training courses.

An old fashioned, punitive trainer can do untold harm to a puppy.

Having said that, help from a good positive reinforcement trainer is invaluable and will make training your dog much easier.

#19 Find the right information

This tip is not quite so important, because you are here, after all! There is a mountain of information on this website to help you.

Of course, we are not the only source of great dog training tips and information around. So it can be useful to know when the information you have found is going to help you and your dog.

There are a few clues that you have landed on the wrong kind of page.

If you are reading about the need to ‘dominate’ your dog or be the ‘pack leader’ you have probably landed on a website with outdated dog training information on it.

‘Correcting’ a dog is simply a euphemism for mild punishment, and ‘respect’ is often a euphemism for fear. Anyone states that you need to show your dog who is the boss, is probably not very knowledgeable, or has not kept up with their professional development as a dog trainer.

This kind of information is becoming less common, but you are bound to come across it from time to time.

#20 Join a support network

There are some excellent support networks online.

The Labrador Site has a forum where many Labrador owners give up their time to help others with dog training and behavior issues.

The Dogsnet Training Center also has a private forum for training course students where you can get help from me and my team.

A listening ear and advice from others who have been where you are now can go a long way.

#21 Practice, practice, and don’t give up

Dogs only learn through the consequences of their actions and typically need to repeat those actions and experience those consequences several (sometimes many) times in order to learn from them.

Sometimes we forget that we need to practice to get good at something.

If you want your dog to be good at recalling from other dogs, he needs to practice recalling away from other dogs.

There’s no way around this.

obedience-among-other-dogsPracticing desirable behaviors using fake set-ups like the one described above, is an essential part of any dog training program.

Fake training scenarios help you to practice recall,  heel and other basic commands in at home and in public, in a way that you can control.

This enables you to ‘proof’ your dog’s commands against the distractions which will inevitably arise in the real world.

Don’t give up because it is sometimes difficult to find people to help you do this. Be persistent. This is what separates well-behaved dogs from naughty ones.

Find ways to practice and pester people to help you.

It’s important. Especially when it comes to recall. Your dog’s life could depend on it.

#22 Enjoy your dog training

My final tip is to take deliberate steps to ensure you are having fun.

If you are not enjoying training your dog you MUST take action!

This is because your dog will know and because you simply won’t stick at it if it isn’t fun.

If you are not enjoying it, try something different

  • Check you are using the right methods
  • Try a different skill
  • Teach a silly trick
  • Watch a youtube training video
  • Just take your dog for a walk and start training again tomorrow
  • Make your lessons easier for the dog
  • Train at a different time of day
  • Join an online course
  • Read a good training book
  • Start over with puppy stuff
  • Join a forum or find a trainer

Just don’t try to battle on alone.

This also applies to classes – don’t keep going if it isn’t fun. Modern dog training is a pleasurable experience. There will be ups and downs, but generally speaking you and your dog should be enjoying yourselves.

If you are not, then get some help – joining the forum would be a good first step.

How about you?

Do you have any dog training tips to share with other readers? Drop your comments into the box below.

About Pippa

Dog Training Tips was brought to you by Pippa Mattinson.


Pippa is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.

She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and creator of the Dogsnet Online Training Program.

You can get regular training tips from Pippa by email, using the box below

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5 Simple Commands You Should Teach Your Puppy

Contents

  1. How To Teach A Dog To Come
  2. How To Teach a Dog Loose Leash Walking
  3. How To Teach a Dog To Sit
  4. How To Teach a Dog To Stay
  5. How to Teach a Dog to Lay Down

Getting Started

To start off on the right foot (and paw!) with your pup, he’ll need to know what you expect from him. This will make him feel secure in his ability to meet the goals laid out for him going forward.

The foundation of dog training should be based on positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is the process of giving a dog (or person!) a reward to encourage the behavior you want, like getting a pay check for going to work. The idea is not to bribe the behavior but to train it using something your dog values.  Avoid using punishment such as leash corrections or yelling. Punishment can cause a dog to become confused and unsure about what is being asked of him.  It is important to remember that we can’t expect dogs to know what they don’t know – just like you wouldn’t expect a 2-year-old child to know how to tie his shoes. Patience will go a long way in helping your new puppy learn how to behave.

Reinforcement can be anything your dog likes. Most people use small pieces of a “high value” food for training treats — something special — such as dried liver or even just their kibble. Lavish praise or the chance to play with a favorite toy can also be used as a reward. Dogs must be taught to like praise. If you give the dog a treat while saying “Good dog!” in a happy voice, he will learn that praise is a good thing and can be a reward. Some dogs also enjoy petting. Food is often the most convenient way to reinforce behavior.

Puppies can begin very simple training starting as soon as they come home, usually around 8 weeks old. Always keep training sessions brief — just 5 to 10 minutes —and always end on a positive note. If your puppy is having trouble learning a new behavior, end the session by reviewing something he already knows and give him plenty of praise and a big reward for his success. If your puppy gets bored or frustrated, it will ultimately be counterproductive to learning.

How To Teach A Dog To Come

teach dog to come

teach dog to come

You’ll want to begin training a recall (come when called) in a quiet area and indoors. Sit with your puppy and say his name or the word “come.” Each time you say “come/name,” give your puppy a treat. He doesn’t have to do anything yet! Just repeat the word and give a treat. Easy!

Next, drop a treat on the floor near you. As soon as your puppy finishes the treat on the ground, say his name again. When he looks up, give him another treat. Repeat this a couple of times until you can begin tossing the treat a little further away, and he can turn around to face you when you say his name. Avoid repeating your puppy’s name; saying it too often when he doesn’t respond makes it easier for him to ignore it. Instead, move closer to your puppy and go back to a step where he can be successful at responding to his name the first time.

Once your puppy can turn around to face you, begin adding movement and making the game more fun! Toss a treat on the ground and take a few quick steps away while calling your puppy’s name. They should run after you because chase is fun! When they catch you, give them a lot of praise, treats or play with a tug toy. Coming to you should be fun! Continue building on these games with longer distances and in other locations. When training outside (always in a safe, enclosed area), it may be helpful to keep your puppy on a long leash at first.

When your puppy comes to you, don’t reach out and grab him. This can be confusing or frightening for some dogs. If your puppy is timid, kneel and face them sideways and offer him treats as you reach for the collar. Never call your dog to punish! This will only teach him that you are unpredictable, and it is a good idea to avoid you. Always reward your dog heavily for responding to his or her name, even if they have been up to mischief!

Further Reading

How To Teach a Dog Loose Leash Walking

teach a dog to heel

teach a dog to heel

In competition obedience training, “heel” means the dog is walking on your left side with his head even with your knee while you hold the leash loosely. Puppy training can be a little more relaxed with the goal being that they walk politely on a loose leash without pulling. Some trainers prefer to say “let’s go” or “forward” instead of “heel” when they train this easy way of walking together.

Whatever cue you choose, be consistent and always use the same word. Whether your puppy walks on your left side or your right side is completely up to you. But be consistent about where you want them so they don’t get confused and learn to zig zag in front of you.

First, make sure your puppy is comfortable wearing a leash. This can feel strange at first, and some puppies may bite the leash. Give your puppy treats as you put the leash on each time. Then, stand next to your puppy with the leash in a loose loop and give him several treats in a row for standing or sitting next to your leg. Take one step forward and encourage him to follow by giving another treat as he catches up.

Continue giving treats to your puppy at the level of your knee or hip as you walk forward. When he runs in front of you, simply turn the opposite direction, call him to you, and reward him in place. Then continue. Gradually begin giving treats further apart (from every step to every other step, every third step, and so on).

Eventually your dog will walk happily at your side whenever he’s on his leash. Allow your dog plenty of time to sniff and “smell the roses” on your walks. When they’ve had their sniffing time, give the cue “Let’s Go!” in a happy voice and reward them for coming back into position and walking with you.

How To Teach a Dog To Sit

teach dog to sit

teach dog to sit

There are two different methods for showing your puppy what “sit” means.

The first method is called capturing. Stand in front of your puppy holding some of his dog food or treats. Wait for him to sit – say “yes” and give him a treat. Then step backwards or sideways to encourage him to stand and wait for him to sit. Give another treat as soon as they sit. After a few repetitions, you can begin saying “sit” right as he begins to sit.

The next option is called luring. Get down in front of your puppy, holding a treat as a lure. Put the treat right in front of the pup’s nose, then slowly lift the food above his head. He will probably sit as he lifts his head to nibble at the treat. Allow him to eat the treat when his bottom touches the ground. Repeat one or two times with the food lure, then remove the food and use just your empty hand, but continue to reward the puppy after he sits. Once he understands the hand signal to sit, you can begin saying “sit” right before you give the hand signal.

Never physically put your puppy into the sitting position; this can be confusing or upsetting to some dogs.

Further Reading

How To Teach a Dog To Stay

A puppy who knows the “stay” cue will remain sitting until you ask him to get up by giving another cue, called the “release word.” Staying in place is a duration behavior. The goal is to teach your dog to remain sitting until the release cue is given, then begin adding distance.

First, teach the release word. Choose which word you will use, such as “OK” or “free.” Stand with your puppy in a sit or a stand, toss a treat on the floor, and say your word as he steps forward to get the treat. Repeat this a couple of times until you can say the word first and then toss the treat AFTER he begins to move. This teaches the dog that the release cue means to move your feet.

When your dog knows the release cue and how to sit on cue, put him in a sit, turn and face him, and give him a treat. Pause, and give him another treat for staying in a sit, then release him. Gradually increase the time you wait between treats (it can help to sing the ABC’s in your head and work your way up the alphabet).  If your dog gets up before the release cue, that’s ok! It just means he isn’t ready to sit for that long so you can make it easier by going back to a shorter time.

Once your dog can stay in a sit for several seconds, you can begin adding distance. Place him in a sit and say “stay,” take one step back, then step back to the pup, give a treat, and your release word. Continue building in steps, keeping it easy enough that your dog can stay successful. Practice both facing him and walking away with your back turned (which is more realistic).

Once your dog can stay, you can gradually increase the distance. This is also true for the “sit.” The more solidly he learns it, the longer he can remain sitting. The key is to not expect too much, too soon. Training goals are achieved in increments, so you may need to slow down and focus on one thing at a time. To make sure the training “sticks,” sessions should be short and successful.

Further Reading

How to Teach a Dog to Lay Down

down step 2

down step 2teach dog to go down step 1teach dog to go down step 1
“Down” can be taught very similarly to “sit.” You can wait for your dog to lie down (beginning in a boring, small room such as a bathroom can help) and capture the behavior by reinforcing your dog with a treat when he lies down, giving him his release cue to stand back up (and encouragement with a lure if needed) and then waiting for him to lie down again. When he is quickly lying down after standing up, you can begin saying “down” right before he does so.

You can also lure a down from a sit or stand by holding a treat in your hand to the dog’s nose and slowly bringing it to the floor. Give the treat when the dog’s elbows touch the floor to start. After a few practices, begin bringing your empty hand to the floor and giving the treat AFTER he lies down. When he can reliably follow your hand signal, begin saying “down” as you move your hand.

Just like with sitting, never use force to put your dog into a down.

And Remember …

Keep training sessions short and fun. End each session on a positive note. If you feel your dog is having a difficult time learning or being “stubborn,” evaluate the speed of your training and the value of your rewards. Do you need to slow down and make the steps easier, or does your dog need a bigger paycheck for a harder exercise?

The “Basic 5” commands will give your puppy a strong foundation for any future training.

And just think, if you and your puppy continue to work hard—and have fun—at training, someday you may become obedience champs!

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Thundershirt for Dogs

Dog Thundershirts and Why You Need One

If you haven’t met me personally, let me tell ya, I do not like to recommend anything that I don’t know 100% works.

Also, as a Canine Behaviorist who works with all types of anxiety day in and day out, I was a bit skeptical of the thundershirt at first. The company had some proving to do to me before I would recommend their product to my clients.

Here’s what I found out: For many dogs with anxiety it helps tremendously. Plus, it’s definitely worth a try before you put your dog on any sort of medication.

I also like the Thundershirt company because it’s reasonably priced. Most items like this have jacked up their prices because once they have built a clientele, they know their product will be purchased. Thundershirt has impressed me because they haven’t done this; even knowing their product is top-notch.

why is it called a thundershirt for dogs?

Think about this for a minute and it will hit you. We often think about things in such a complicated way that we don’t see the simplicity.

It’s called a Thundershirt for dogs because it was originally designed for dogs who were afraid of thunderstorms. It wasn’t until after the development researchers realized it could be used for a number of other reasons including:

  • Thunder
  • Fireworks
  • Separation anxiety
  • Travel
  • Vet visits
  • Problem barking
  • Reactivity

the thundershirt for dogs: how & statistics

The design of the Thundershirt applies gentle, constant pressure, similar to swaddling an infant. They feel as if they were being held.

When you’re scared or stressed, does your significant other, a friend, or a family member, hugging you help you to calm down? It’s a similar concept here.

The ThunderShirt produces a dramatic calming effect for over 80% of dogs.

The facts

The fact is that I can’t tell you 100% the Thundershirt will work for your dog with anxiety. But, I can say it has worked on many of my clients who were considering medication for their dogs. And, since it’s not expensive, it’s worth a shot.

Similar to us, every dog has her own preferences, likes, and dislikes. Something that helps one person or one dog may not help another. It’s all trial and error when it comes down to anxiety sometimes.

If you want to learn more about the Thundershirt you can click here.

If you do end up purchasing a Thundershirt, or already have one but haven’t shared your testimonial, I would love you to click ‘Contact’ on this site to send it or post in the comments below.

Talk soon!

Amber

Five Ways You Can Make Moving to a New Home Smoother for Your Dog

Our dogs are part of the family and, as such, need special consideration when we plan for a move. Just as we anticipate the number of bedrooms for each family member, we must think of our dog’s needs, too. Here are some ways you can make moving to a new home a breeze for everyone.

Read the Fine Print

When moving somewhere new with a dog, you have extra considerations. For example, there could be laws against certain breeds or strict city restrictions on the number of pets you can have. So, before you pack your bags, do a little digging to determine whether the city you’re considering is a good fit. Once you have this decided, you can start researching neighborhoods

HOAs may also have regulations, so talk to your real estate agent about the best locations, and scope out the neighborhood yourself. Are other people walking dogs? Are there dog parks? Do they have waste bags and plenty of trash cans? These are indications you’re in a pet-friendly space, making it easier for you and your pup to assimilate. 

Lastly, when looking for the right place, it may be difficult to tick off all the boxes on your checklist, and you may need to compromise to find the perfect home for your budget

Knowing the average cost of a home in the area where you’re looking can guide your financial choices. 

Local Moving Tips

Even if you’re just moving across town, your dog may have a hard time. In particular, their home will be all packed up, movers will have invaded their space, and they won’t know what’s going on. The best you can do is to make the car ride as pleasant as possible. To start, get them used to driving around with you by turning it into a routine rather than something to be scared of. For their safety and comfort, buy them a good harness (which you can find on Walmart starting at $9.99). Lastly, give them anything that you know can keep them calm. That might mean their favorite toy, a T-shirt with your smell, or some medicinal or herbal help in the form of pheromones and mild sedatives.

Long-Distance Moving Tips

A longer car ride means preparing for all of the above and more. Pack water and snacks for your pup to ensure they stay comfortable on the trip. Best of all, healthy foods like blueberries, kale, beef, turkey, and fish can all have a comforting effect, so consider having those items on hand. Additionally, by planning out your rest stops, you’ll be able to gauge where the best places for breaks are. Some are friendlier to dogs than others, so researching ahead of time is essential.

Be Ready for Moving Day

If you’re concerned about your dog escaping out the open front door, it’s likely you’ll spend more time worried about your pup than the actual move. It’s quite possible your pup may have a traumatic time on moving day if kept at home. After all, strangers will be coming and going and all the noise and movement will be unsettling. Ideally, it’s best if a friend can watch them, or you can try boarding your pet for the day. 

Help Your Dog Adjust

A new environment will be hard for your dog, so do everything you can to keep their routine on track. In fact, going on regular walks will help them become familiar with the neighborhood and reduce their anxiety. Try to also stick to regular feeding times and play times, just so your pup can count on continuity. 

It may not be easy, but the right preparation can make the moving experience smoother. Know what your dog needs, plan well for the packing and moving, and help your dog adjust to their new surroundings. Remember, while you may be excited, they’ll likely feel uncomfortable with these changes, so take extra care with their anxiety levels.

Image Courtesy of Pixabay.com

I’m a Man and My Dog is Afraid of Me… What Do I Do?

Your dog may be perfectly content and calm without any behavior problems around women and children, but when a man approaches (even if it’s just one man he or she knows) she can become a completely different dog.

Some dogs may try to hide from you (the man), cower or show submissive behavior, shake, or even urinate due to anxiety.

Others may show signs of aggression (growling/showing of teeth). If you (the man) get too close she may even snap at you.

A Fear of Men is Common

A fear of men is actually a relatively common phobia in dogs, and some very well-behaved and well-rounded dogs share this fear.

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help your dog overcome its fear and learn to accept the men or man she encounters.

why do dogs fear men?

When people find out a dog is afraid of men, they often immediately connect the fear to a bad experience. But, there are a variety of reasons why your dog may fear men in general or even one particular man including:

  • If your dog has been abused by a man prior to being brought into your family, this may cause a lifelong fear of all men. Think about how long you have had your dog. Was your dog a puppy? Adult? In most cases, this is not the most likely culprit, though.
  • In many cases, being afraid of men is a result of a lack of socialization with men when the dog was a puppy. If you are the man your dog is afraid of, how much time did you spend with your dog when she was a puppy? Sometimes, the lack of socialization with men is due to the man being out of the house due to long work hours.
  • Another factor could be intimidation. Men can be more intimidating in a dog’s eyes. They are often taller and bigger than women and children, have deeper voices, and may have different types of features, like facial hair. From a dog’s perspective, these differences might be scary.

easing your dog’s fear of the man

The level of difficulty of correcting this behavior depends on the severity of your dog’s fear.

Some dogs are only somewhat fearful, whereas others may be completely terrified. Remember to be patient with your dog; it can take a lot of time for any dog to overcome any phobia.

In the meantime, keep things as positive as possible. We’ll recommend a few things to try to help ease your dog’s anxiety below.

your dog’s comfort zone

It’s important to understand you cannot force your dog to go beyond her comfort zone and expect her to change her behavior.

If you attempt to push your dog too far by pushing her into uncomfortable situations, your attempts can backfire and actually strengthen the fear.

Worst-case scenario…. your efforts could lead the dog to bite and increase her fear of you.

Let Your Dog Approach you on her own terms

Allow your dog to approach you (the man) on his or her own. This may be difficult, but attempt to ignore the dog who is fearful of you. Of course you want to be near your dog to increase the bond, but this just isn’t the right time. By ignoring your dog, you’re essentially providing her with the opportunity to come to you. It’s on her own terms.

Offering treats to encourage her to come

When you’re trying to break your dog of her fear of you, be sure to keep treats handy (even if your dog is no where near you- just in case she comes closer).

Whenever the fearful dog gets even a little closer than usual, very gently toss a couple of treats in the dog’s direction.

It may take a while for the dog to accept treats from a man, but eventually, he or she will connect you with something good- treats! A positive association with form.

For some dogs, this can take a week or two. For others, a month or even longer. Patience is key.

Desensitize Your Dog

Desensitization is the process we’re talking about here. We are using treats and praise to slowly, over time, help your dog understand that it’s safe to approach you (the man).

Over time, you may be able to slowly close the distance between the dog and the man without your dog feeling fearful.

In some cases, your dog may never feel completely comfortable around men (dependent upon the reason why she or he is afraid). But, you may notice her becoming significantly more comfortable over time.

obedience training: it helps

If your dog is obedience trained, there’s a higher chance of her or him being able to focus in stressful situations.

If there is someone in the home (a woman), she should make obedience training part of their daily routine. Continuous obedience training with a fearful dog may speed up the process of comfort.

Prevent Disease in Your Dog Using ‘Superfoods!’

If you’re reading this, we already know your dog’s health is extremely important to you. We all want our dogs to live long, healthy lives. That’s no shock.

Disease fighting foods can help!

We’re sure you have heard the saying ‘you are what you eat.’ That’s true. Literally.

Eating healthy will help you stay healthy- and that goes for both ourselves and our pups.

Disease Fighting Food #1: Blueberries

Blueberries are jam packed full of fiber, antioxidants, Vitamin C, and Vitamin K.

Blueberries are known to assist in the prevention of obesity, colon cancer, and heart diseases. Plus, they help prevent memory loss in senior dogs.

With that said, don’t overload your dog with blueberries. A handful of fresh, organic blueberries is sufficient each day.

P.S.- Be sure to rinse off the blueberries prior to feeding. This goes for ALL fruits and veggies for both us and our dogs!

Disease Fighting Food #2: Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has become the new ‘craze’ with health fanatics for people. But, coconut oil can help our dogs, too!

Coconut oil has special fatty acids resulting in a ton of benefits including:

  • Obesity prevention
  • Immune system booster
  • Healthy teeth
  • Flea and tick repellent
  • Healthy brain function

If you’re interested in adding coconut oil to your dog’s diet, it can go right into their daily food intake. The recommended daily amount is approximately 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight.

To learn more about disease-fighting foods, watch the video below:

Until next time!

Steps on How to Help Your Dog Lose Weight

When a person wants to lose weight, limiting his caloric intake and adding more physical activities to the day usually work. The same is true for your pets. If your dog is getting a little heavy, it might be a good idea to start limiting its food and making your dog exercise more.

However, unlike humans who can say when enough is enough, it might be more difficult to find a balance for your dog’s weight loss efforts. Here are some useful steps that you can take in order to help your beloved pet lose weight in a healthy manner.

Why Should Your Dog Lose Weight?

An animal that is overweight is more susceptible to health issues like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other medical problems. Putting on extra pounds can affect your pet’s quality of life. The added weight can put a strain on the dog’s back and joints. This could eventually lead to arthritis. In order to allow your pet to live a long and healthy life, it is best that you help it slim down.

Assess If Your Pet Is Really Overweight

Doing a visual test can help you assess if your dog is putting on too much weight. Check your dog’s profile from the side and the top Its waist should be obvious when you observe the area in front of its rear legs. There should also be a definite difference between the dog’s chest and abdomen.

If you check your pet’s profile from the side, you should be able to tell the difference in size of the abdomen and the chest. The abdomen should be closer to the dog’s spine rather than its chest. If you notice that your dog’s abdomen is sagging or it has a flat and broad back, your pet may be overweight. To confirm, you might be better served by seeing a veterinarian.

Work With A Vet To Figure Out An Effective Meal Plan

Our friends from Time for Paws – an online pet supplies store, says that once you and your dog’s veterinarian have established how overweight your pet is, the doctor can find out why your dog is gaining weight. Could it be from lack of exercise or is it caused by overfeeding? Is there an underlying medical condition that needs to be addressed? Once those details are established, the doctor can help you come up with a meal plan that will suit your pet’s needs. You might be asked to buy a different kind of dog food.

The vet may also give suggestions on what treats can help your dog lose rather than gain weight. You will probably be instructed on how to control portion size and what times to feed your dog. If not, ask about these things so you will know how to best help your pet lose the excess weight. Ask also about possible physical activities that will be safe for your pet to try out. Usually, going on runs is enough but your vet will be able to better identify what other activities you can try out.

Stick To A Weight Loss Plan

If you are helping your dog lose weight, it is important to follow a weight loss plan. The vet may have already prescribed a type of dog food to buy, make sure that you stick to this. Make sure to measure your dog’s food portions properly. Buying a special diet food would be pointless if you still allow your pet to overeat. If you notice that your pet is still not losing weight, ask the vet if it is safe to reduce the amount of dog food even more. Use a scale or a measuring cup so you can be sure that you are giving your pet the right amount of food. Keep track of your pet’s weight to see if the plan is working. Do not be tempted to give your dog extra treats. This will go against its weight loss plan.

Engage In More Physical Activities With Your Pet

Exercising on a regular basis will do wonders for your pet’s health. It will improve its muscle tone, reduce weight, and even boost its metabolism. All of these will lead to weight loss. While running around may seem like a good idea, some dog breeds are not meant to engage in very strenuous activities.

That is why it is always a good idea to talk to your pet’s veterinarian before adding more physical activities to your pet’s schedule. Going on a short walk every morning or afternoon may be a good starting point, especially if your dog is out of shape. You can gradually increase the speed and distance by observing how much your dog can tolerate. You can also incorporate exercise into your games. Playing fetch is a good game for this purpose.

Conclusion

After a few weeks, it is advisable to go back to the vet to see how much progress your pet has made in terms of losing weight. This way, the doctor can assess if your weight loss plan is effective and may suggest changes in order to keep the pounds from coming back. Remember that, although it is added work, your dog will live a longer and healthier life if you continue on this weight-loss journey.

How to Keep Your Canine From Causing Chaos

You know how much you love dogs, especially that little one that lives in your home and fills your heart with laughter and joy. But there’s a less pleasant side that comes with that goodness.

Canines cause trouble, pure and simple. This involves anything from spilling food on the floor to tearing up sofa cushions to doing their business on the carpet, any of which could make you tear your hair out as you yell and scream at the little feller in the hopes that they’ll learn a lesson for a change. However, that’s not the worst of it; sometimes, your dog’s naughtiness puts them in danger, like when they devour a bar of chocolate, which can be deadly.

It’s not their fault, though. They don’t have the same self-control as we humans, and they often don’t even know they’re doing something wrong. As their guardian, it’s up to you to keep them safe and secure. Here’s what you need to know.

Banish Poisonous Plants

Autumn crocus, azalea, and daffodil are just a few on the long list of species that could cause grave harm if your pooch were to take a nibble, according to an article in PetMD. The best bet would be to rid your home of all of them — or at least put them out of the reach.

Hide the Cleaning Products

You wouldn’t leave dangerous and potentially deadly chemicals out in the open where a toddler could get at them and take a swig, and the same should go for your furry friend. Behind closed doors that can’t be easily opened is where your bleach, detergents, and fabric softeners belong — unless you buy the non-toxic, pet-friendly versions.

Beware of Certain Foods

There’s a lot more than just chocolate that could give your four-legged friend a sore tummy — or worse. Anything containing caffeine or alcohol is a strict “no,” along with onions, garlic, and chives. Make sure to store these items and others up high or in a pantry to avoid mishaps, and throw out anything moldy, as that can be highly toxic, too.

Pet-Proof Everywhere

Hiding dangerous foods and chemicals from prying paws is just part of it. There are some rooms, particularly ones with lots of cables or cords, that should be off limits. Remember to close doors behind you whenever you enter or exit, or use baby gates to keep them from walking up or down the stairs. And don’t leave dirty laundry lying around on the floor.

Get an Electronic Feeder

A hungry dog is an angry dog that’s likely to take their wrath out on your interior. These devices dispense a small meal at specified hours of the day so you don’t have to think about it. You’ll no longer worry whether you left food in the bowl while you’re at work or out running errands.

Schedule Your Playtime

Dogs have a lot of energy, and they need to get it out or they’ll throw a fit. Lamps get knocked over, vases get shattered — it’s ugly. Tire your dog out with a spirited game of fetch, and build that into your daily routine so you don’t forget to spend quality time together.

Find a Dog Park Nearby

Visit a dog park so your pooch can socialize — with other dogs, that is. It’s more important than you think, says a writer with PetHelpful. Not only does it boost their self-esteem, but it also helps your pooch develop their communication skills, as they interact with members of their own species. Their rougher style of play will also make them calmer at home.

Make Regular Visits to the Vet

Once a year is the general rule of thumb, though that may change based on age and health condition of your dog. Dogs should get a checkup once a month until they’re four months old, while senior woofers need frequent expert checkups as well.

Now your pooch will be safe when you’re not home, and that gives you one less thing to worry about. Having a dog should be about enjoying the good times, not worrying about the bad.

Human Foods That Dogs Can Enjoy

Feeding your dog is a part of your daily routine, and it’s easy to grab a couple of cups of the same dry pet food and pour it into your dog’s bowl. For the most part, your pet’s dry food is a nutritionally balanced meal that is tasty and healthy for them. However, these same flavors and textures can become boring for your dog.

By offering your dog human food once in a while, you will give them the variety they crave. For your dog, this extra-special meal will feel like a reward—aiding with training—and you will feel good about enhancing your pet’s diet. Even so, it’s important that you stick to human food that is safe for dogs.

Here are some human foods that you can safely offer to your dog.


Cooked boneless chicken breast

Chicken is a lean meat that provides dogs with many nutritional benefits, such as added protein. Most dogs enjoy the flavor of chicken, and it can be used to make any dry meal more appealing to your pet. Chicken can be paired with brown rice if your dog is experiencing digestive issues but may still need a nutritious and wholesome meal.

Note: Chicken should be boneless and fully cooked before serving to your dog. Boneless chicken breasts are ideal for dogs because they minimize the risk of inadvertently giving your dog bones that could become a choking hazard.

Raw Carrots

Raw carrots can provide your dog with additional beta carotene as well as vitamin A. Also, raw carrots are low in calories, which makes them an ideal snack between meals for your pet. Not only do carrots offer a boost of essential vitamins and nutrients, they also help to naturally clean and strengthen your dog’s teeth. Consider offering your dog raw baby carrots, as the size is perfect for snacking.

Sliced Apples

Apples are packed with vitamins that are beneficial for your dog. Vitamins A and C are plentiful in apples, making this low-calorie fruit a great snack option for your pooch. It’s OK for your dog to eat the skin of the apple, but you should avoid serving a full apple — for fear your pet might eat the stem and seeds. Note: Seeds can contain trace amounts of cyanide, which would be dangerous. Consider slicing apples and rewarding your dog with this treat for good behavior.

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is likely to be one of your dog’s favorite human foods. This sweet, creamy concoction is a great choice because it is filled with valuable protein as well as powerful vitamins, including vitamins E and B. When you stuff your dog’s favorite chew toy with peanut butter, you’ll provide a healthy reward and a long-lasting treat. Not to mention, you might also enjoy a few extra minutes to yourself while your dog devours the tasty snack (be sure to grab natural peanut butter- most regular peanut butter jars contain artificial sweeteners which can be dangerous to your dog’s health).

Pureed Pumpkin

This fall gourd is often considered to be more of a decoration than a nutritious vegetable, but it’s one of the best human foods you can give your dog. Filled with fiber and vitamin A, pumpkin can help your dog when suffering from gastrointestinal issues. Be sure to serve canned pureed pumpkin, or even homemade pumpkin pie is an acceptable human treat for your pooch.

If you are interested in changing your pet’s diet or mixing in some of these human foods as supplements, be sure to first discuss it with your veterinarian. Your vet may have insight into the best human foods for your dog’s breed, age, or health history. After adding a new food to your dog’s diet, monitor for any signs of digestive distress or allergic reactions. Always contact your pet’s health care provider if you have any questions or concerns.

Author bio: Stephanie N. Blahut is Director of Digital Marketing and Technology for Figo Pet Insurance. Figo is committed to helping pets and their families enjoy their lives together by fusing innovative technology — the first-of-its-kind Figo Pet Cloud — and the industry’s best pet insurance plans.