Are you making common dog training mistakes? These free basic dog training tips will set you straight. There are dog training tips online free as well as free dog training information that will help you with the all the important basics.
Irrespective of the breed of dog you are into, we want you to get the most out of your relationship with your pet!
A poorly trained dog is neither happy nor fun to have around.
So many so-called “problem” dogs are just dogs that haven’t been raised right. Such dogs often end up abandoned to become just another statistic of pound dogs that had to be put down.
Even well-meaning owners can get it seriously wrong! Your dog depends on you to assume leadership in the relationship. Being a good leader requires you to understand the basics of dog training, so congratulations for finding this page – you are well on your way!
The attention and care you put into the first few weeks of your puppy’s life with you will pay off handsomely in the long term. So, while it is likely to be busy and demanding, at first, keep your sense of humor and be patient, and things will go better for you and your pup. Begin teaching your puppy simple commands as soon as you get him home.
Unless you are keenly interested in fully pursuing the training road, there are only a few things that you need to teach your dog by way of commands. I have found the most important to be: SIT, STAY, and COME. Whenever I hand out titbits (like the fat trimmed off tonight’s dinner) I insist that my dogs first sit. If they don’t sit, they don’t get!
“SIT” is the foundation for all obedience. All other commands, learning and control branch from this one simple exercise. Even for those who don’t care to teach “formal” obedience, “SIT” will still be a valuable tool.
Consider what happens when you take your dog for a walk. Going for a walk is usually very exciting for a dog. Often, he will jump and prance and perhaps bark while you are getting the leash and collar. By this time, the dog has gone so crazy that applying the leash and collar becomes all but impossible. Instead, put a firm “SIT” command to this craziness before it gets out of control: “Bozo SIT!” Use firm, short words (don’t “ask”). Insist that the leash and collar will not go on a crazy dog. Your dog must get the message: “You must “SIT” before you go anywhere!”
Follow through by showing the dog what you want if he doesn’t comply immediately. Don’t forget to praise for a nice sit – even after you have made him do it. The sit will help to make him a thinking rather than a reacting dog. After you accomplish that, you can now attempt to go for that walk!
Now consider a dog who drags you toward the door, gasping and choking the entire way, jumps at the door, and rushes through the door as soon as you open it. This dog has no respect for you. Instead of allowing all the pulling and choking, insist again on a “SIT” by the door, along with a “STAY”. As leader, you must always be the one to go through the doorway first. After you have gone first, a cheerful release word “OK” signals that Bozo may follow. If you must lock the door, then another SIT should be required while the dog calmly waits to start the walk.
Jumping up on you or other people can also be controlled using “SIT”. We can teach “OFF” (or another word, if you wish), but we must also give your dog an alternative for jumping – one that will bring praise. And that magic “something” is SIT.
When your dog becomes excited or appears worried during a trip to the veterinarian or groomer (or wherever, for that matter), “SIT” can be the key to calm your dog and, again, get him to think rather than react.
So, practice “SIT” – quick, small, fun sits to start. Ask the dog to SIT or STAY before he gets any treat – whether it be for his meal, a treat or a walk – use every opportunity to enforce yourself as leader and instill respect. Then practice longer sits, or sits not so close to you (on the leash helps you to reinforce the command if the SIT doesn’t happen). Above all, “SIT” should always be praised and your dog must know that, in any unfamiliar situation, “SIT” will always make you happy. That is how you start to get respect and obedience from one simple command – “SIT”!
If teaching sit, have Bozo on a leash, say SIT, (you could also couple this with an accompanying hand signal, such as holding your hand palm down in front of you and sweeping it downward as you voice the command) and if she doesn’t sit immediately, push her back end down into a sitting posture. Do so until she remains sitting for a few seconds, then praise and reward her. Take her for a little walk around, and repeat the command, going through the same procedure several times each lesson.
For COME, you may pat your knee and crouch while calling her name, or the command “come”. Start again in an enclosed area, when she is not too far from you. When she complies, give her a small treat and lavish cuddles and praise. Repeat often, gradually increasing the distance you call her from. You may also use a particular whistle. A good way to reinforce good coming habits is to use your “come” command to call your dogs in at every mealtime. Don’t trust your dog to come in an open, public place until you are sure she has developed reliable compliance to this command in a confined place, and start by only letting her off for a short distance, gradually increasing it as she shows she is ready.
I make my dogs STAY at every opportunity. They must SIT and STAY successfully before I will put their leads on them for their beloved daily walkies. They must sit and stay at each roadside before we cross. When I get to the park or beach where they are allowed to run around free, they first must SIT and STAY, while I walk a short distance away, and wait till I give them a voice and hand signal that means they can go (I wave them forward and say “Off you go!”). Start by getting your puppy to stay for a few seconds, or while you move away by a few meters. When they succeed, reward and praise them. Gradually increase the time and distance, until they reliably comply even if you leave their sight for a little while. Eventually your dog will faithfully stay and wait for you outside the shops while you go in for the paper (even if I tie my dogs up, I still make them SIT and ask them to STAY – they have no other choice, but take every opportunity you have to reinforce the learning!).
A collar needs to be one of the first things you deal with when a new puppy comes home.
Purchase a cheap nylon buckle collar long enough to allow room for the puppy to grow and put it on your pup within the first day or two home. To avoid the pup getting a limb caught in the strange and at first uncomfortable collar, it should be fitted only loose enough to allow a couple of your fingers under it. In older dogs, the collar can be fitted a little more loosely. Remember to check it every week so that it does not become too tight as your pup grows.
At first your pup will try to remove the offending collar, and worry and scratch at it, and the leash is likely to cause even more trauma to begin with. The best training leash is a narrow two meter leather type with a hand loop on one end and a strong clip on the other. Leather isn’t apt to slip in the hands the way nylon and other fabrics do.
Introduce the leash by clipping it to the collar and allowing the pup to drag it around for a while, supervised so it does not come to grief. Then begin by holding the other end and introducing a little resistance. Hold firmly and quietly until all struggling ceases, then reward the pup and end the lesson.
Once the pup has given up fighting the leash, encourage it to follow you with vocal encouragement, gentle tugs, and perhaps a few tiny treats. Encourage him to remain by your side as you walk, and respond to digressions by getting his attention back to you. You can do this by changing direction or coaxing him with a treat. Keep it light and fun.
To teach walking manners to a puppy, clip leash to buckle collar, put toys or treats in your pocket, and coax the pup to remain near your side as you walk. Whistle, clap your hands, pat your leg, and praise as you go. If he loses concentration as a butterfly flits by or the neighbor’s cat entices him to chase, change direction, coax him with a treat, and get his attention back to you. Keep things bright and cheery – you want to teach the little dickens that being by your side is fun.
To teach older puppies and adults not to pull while on the leash use or a dog halter, prong collar, or a training chain-slip collar that tightens and relaxes in response to pulling. While training, remove any other collars as they interfere with the action of the training collar. When your dog walks without pulling, don’t forget to praise him. Start out by getting his attention by changing direction often while the leash is slack. If he pulls, give him a firm jank. Be persistent, consistent and determined to win! You may have to resort to a prong collar if he doesn’t respond. Failing that, consider enrolling in a dog training school.
Establishing good habits early on in housetraining your puppy is critical. Consider bringing your puppy home for the first time on a weekend so you have extra time to devote to settling in and housebreaking in those crucial first few days.
Your pup will not be reliably housetrained until it is about 6 months old, and if you are diligent in your training, will never eliminate in your house unless forced to do so by illness or excessively long confinement. However, if you at any time allow your puppy to eliminate indiscriminantly in your home, the bad habit will be hard to break without having to resort to time-consuming, tedious retraining at a later date.
Housetraining is much easier when the puppy’s meals, exercise and playtimes are on a regular schedule throughout the day, so work out a schedule for you and your puppy. What goes in at regular times will come out at regular times and be easier to manage! So don’t have food available at all times of the day – give your puppy 10 to 15 minutes to finish each meal, then take any leftovers away.
To establish good toileting habits in a pup, it needs frequent access to the toilet area. When you are at home, take your puppy there every 30 to 45 minutes immediately following a play session, eating or drinking, and upon waking. Be sure to offer enthusiastic praise and reward whenever he eliminates in the proper place. The more often you catch him doing it right and give him positive feedback, the quicker your pup will be toilet trained, so the more time you put into this early on, the better. Punishing him for mistakes can set his progress back – focus instead on noticing and reinforcing success, and minimizing the possibility of errors.
So, never allow your pup to roam the house unattended. When you are home to monitor him, either have him on a leash or confine him to a crate for gradually increasing periods of time, helping him to develop self control. Immediately after he has pooped and peed in his toilet area you can allow him supervised freedom for short periods in your home, but don’t let him out of your sight.
If you are not home or cannot tend to the puppy, then you must make sure he cannot make a mistake! Either confine him to a puppy-proofed room and line the entire floor with papers. Or if you live in a temperate climate you can put him outside in a small, secure and comfortable pen with good shelter from the elements. Ideally the pen will be surfaced with something like his toilet area and unlike the flooring in your home – dirt, grass, gravel or concrete. Put his bed, toys and food/water bowls there.
If using a room, replace the papers with clean ones when you get home. You will notice with time that he will begin to favor toileting in a particular area. Begin gradually removing papers from areas he never uses that are furthest away from his favorite spots. If he makes a mistake, you have been a bit too quick for him and need to go back to repapering a larger area or even the whole room. Once he is reliably using a small area of paper without mistakes, you can start moving the papered area to a corner, just an inch a day. If he makes a mistake, it means again you have progressed too rapidly and may need to go back to papering the room again. Just be patient! Over time he will become accustomed to toileting in a small papered area, and learn not use the floor.
This involves confining your puppy in a crate when you cannot directly supervise him indoors to prevent him from soiling in the house. The crate must be just big enough for him to sleep comfortably in. Associate it with positive things by putting his favourite treat inside, lining it with a sheepskin rug if possible, and leaving it open as a sleeping bed within a playpen a lot of the time. Puppies will not toilet inside a correctly sized crate, so when you let him out you can take him directly to where you want him to toilet and reward and praise lavishly once the deed is done.
With consistence and patience your pup will gradually develop better and better control of his bowels and bladder and become a successfully housetrained pet.