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How to Best Train Your Dog for Success!

Profile picture of the author - Anna Lengacherby Anna Lengacher


Jump to:
The ultimate DIY guide for dog training
When to do it yourself, and when to hire a professional
How can I find a quality dog trainer?
Where do I find a dog trainer?
Dog Training Resources
How much do dog training classes cost?
Dog training FAQ


Training your dog, that’s what we’re talking about today.

Whether you have a new little puppy or a mature adult dog, training is nothing to take lightly.

Specifically for puppies and young dogs, it is paramount for them to learn and understand good behavior if you are ever going to have fun together.

Imagine a dog that never responded to his or her name.  Imagine a puppy that refuses to stop jumping on people and nipping at your children’s heals.  Imagine….actually don’t imagine.  Because this doesn’t need to be anywhere near your reality.

Instead, grab yourself a dose of positive puppy training and you’ll have yourself the perfect recipe for raising a well-behaved, respectful canine.

And seriously, what’s not to love about a furry pal who responds to your commands and is respectful towards your other dog-loving friends?

 

Whether you are planning to train your puppy yourself, or you choose to hire a professional dog-trainer instead, you’re at the right place.

Today we are delving into how to train your dog, how to find a trainer, along with why training even matters.  Then to top it off, we’ll round it all out with the most frequently asked questions in dog training.

In the following space, you’ll learn solid fundamentals and valued tips for training your dog right inside your very own home.

You’ll also discover how to find the best professional trainer for your dog.

Together we’ll look at what questions you should be asking when looking for a trainer, along with what today is, hands down, the best style of puppy training available.

Let’s dive in!

[Heads up: This post may contain affiliate links.  If you buy something through one of the links below, you won’t pay a penny more, but we’ll get a small commission.]

 

The Ultimate DIY Guide for Dog Training

The 7 best steps for training your dog at home infographic.

 

First things first.

Research is showing again and again that the absolute best way to train both a puppy or an adult dog is through positive reinforcement.

Simply stated, positive reinforcement is any time you reinforce good behavior by rewarding your puppy with something positive.

This could be as simple as either lavishing your pup with positive praise after she responds to her name, or giving your puppy a treat every time she remembers to go outside to relieve herself.

Rewards can take many different forms.  While treats and positive praise are obvious rewards, you could also reward your puppy with either a new toy or extra playtime together, just you and her.

In addition to reinforcing good behavior, when utilizing positive reinforcement training, you will also want to suggest alternative behaviors when your puppy is misbehaving.

For example, if your puppy is constantly chewing on the sofas and table legs in your home, provide your puppy with a favorite chew toy instead.  This way your pal can enjoy the satisfaction of chewing on something without it actually being destructive behavior.

Dalmatian dog getting a dog treat during training.

In addition to positive reinforcement, you’ll want to be clear in establishing what is expected from your puppy right from day one.

Many puppies enter their new home around six or eight weeks of age.  This is the perfect time to begin positive puppy training.

Keep each training session short and stop before your puppy starts to feel frustrated.

Include positive momentum to keep each training session fun, and always always end on a good note.

If you keep each training session short and fun, your puppy will come to love training sessions and it will be so much easier to continue training as your puppy grows into an adult.

 

Now that the ground rules are in place, here are seven tried-and-true tips for training your dog for success, right from the comforts of your own home.

 

1. Establish Clear House-Rules

If you have a room in your home that’s off-limits to your puppy, let her know right from day one.  Don’t let her hang out in it for the first few weeks, and then suddenly expect her to know never to enter it again.

Or if there is furniture that you don’t want your little pal climbing on, make it clear from the beginning.

The clearer you can be in letting your puppy know what’s expected in your home, the happier you both will be.

 

2. Build a Routine

Never mind that your life may be filled to the brim already.

There’s work, school meetings, after-school activities, parties with friends, and the list could go on.

Yet the truth is, the more of a routine you can build for your Fido, that happier she (and ultimately you) will be.

As you look at your life and all you have going, consider if there is any possible way of building in a routine of scheduled mealtimes, regular walks outside, and daily playtime.

In addition, carve out time for consistent training, good puppy socialization, and an occasional dose of exciting tricks and games together.

As you build these routines into your lifestyle, your puppy is able to thrive.  She suddenly understands what to expect and knows in advance what is coming next.

She isn’t thrown into a whirl with the unexpected.  Instead, you can put your mind at ease knowing you didn’t miss a thing.

It’s all in the routine.  All you need to do is be consistent, stick to it, and you both will feel less chaotic and more peaceful for it.

 

3. Introduce a Crate

Puppies like to have a space to call their own.

Perhaps you have a favorite chair you like to unwind on each day as you watch the evening news.

In the same way, your puppy likes to have her own little den to relax in each day.

 

Insert dog crates here.  Comfortable dog crates are an excellent solution for providing your puppy with a safe space to call her very own.

To first train your puppy to use her crate, begin by leaving your puppy in the crate for only a few minutes each day.

You could leave a treat or favorite toy inside the crate to keep your puppy entertained.

Over time, slowly increase the amount of time your puppy spends in her crate each day.

Soon, with consistent training, the crate may easily become your puppy’s favorite place to hideaway.

Do note, however, that no matter how fond your puppy is of her crate, she should never be left inside her crate for more than a few hours at a time.

 

4. Study Your Puppy

This may sound a bit strange at first.

Still, take time to pause and really get to know your puppy.

What makes her happy?  What makes her sad?

How does she respond to strangers?

Where is her favorite place to play?

Does she enjoy lots of mental stimulation, or does she prefer being curled up next to you while watching Netflix?

Once you discover what it is that motivates your puppy, you are well on the way to creating fun and happy memories together.

 

5. Teach Your Puppy Commands

Man training a Rottweiler basic commands outdoors.

 

As always, start with the basics and keep training short.

Begin by training for only five minutes several times each day.

The first commands you’ll want to teach your little pal include fundamentals like sit, stay, down, and come.  

When teaching your puppy to come, get eye level with your puppy and speak clearly.

In addition, always use the same word to teach a command.

For example, if you are teaching your puppy to “drop it”, avoid saying things like, “leave it go” or “put it down.”

Always be clear, concise, and consistent.

 

6. Reward Your Puppy Immediately

Whether it’s a positive reward or a consequence for bad behavior, always follow up with your puppy immediately after an action is complete.

Puppies have notoriously short memory spans.

If you wait even two minutes to follow up with a reward, your puppy will have no idea that the reward is connected to something in the past.

As a result, always reward or discipline immediately after an action is complete.

 

7. Teach Your Puppy Tricks

This one is optional, yet it’s a great way to instigate a dose of fun.

Teach your puppy tricks like, “shake a paw”, “rollover”, and “beg.”

It’s an exciting way to bond even deeper with your little pupper.

 

When to Do It Yourself, and When to Hire a Professional

Dog climbing on a ramp learning how to be agile.

While it’s great to start teaching your puppy the basics right from day one, you may wish to hire a professional to assist in training your little fur pal.

Maybe you feel unsure of how to begin.

Perhaps your puppy just won’t stop a specific behavior.

Or maybe you are looking for a community of dog lovers where you can learn together how to up your puppy game.

If you connect with any of this, it may be time to look for a professional dog trainer.

 

Alternatively, perhaps your puppy is responding well to training at home and you simply what to amp things up a bit.

Maybe you’re ready to enroll your dog in an obedience class or dog sports or some other round of canine tricks.

Again, a professional trainer can be the perfect resource for both teaching your dog new tricks while also getting him/her proficient in favorite dog sports.

 

By accessing a professional dog trainer, you suddenly have a source that you can troubleshoot ideas with.

You can improve your own dog training skills.  Plus, you get access to an expert opinion on how to improve the relationship between you and your pupper.

 

How Can I Find a Quality Dog Trainer?

Unfortunately, not every dog trainer is a match made in heaven.

To date, dog trainers are not regulated in the United States.  So you’ll want to be cautious when choosing a trainer who is right for you.

9 tips for finding the best dog trainer infographic.Here are nine of the absolute best tips to follow when searching for a dog trainer near you:

  1. Ask about methods and training philosophy.  Look for a trainer who utilizes positive reinforcement.  Harsh words and violent actions should never be a part of any training session.  Rather, look for a breeder who reinforces good behavior with positive praise, favorite treats, and exciting toys.  No matter how a puppy is behaving, a trainer should always be kind, gentle, and positive.
  2. Define your problem.  Are you trying to curb a bad behavior?  Perhaps you are simply hoping to teach your puppy a few new commands or tricks.  Different trainers offer different services, so look for a trainer who specializes in exactly what you are looking for.
  3. Know your expectations.  Are you looking for group classes or one-on-one training?  In addition, are you hoping for just a few lessons with a trainer?  Or are you looking to build an ongoing relationship with an expert near you?  The more clearly you can define your expectations, the higher your chances are of finding a trainer that will leave both you and your little puppy happy.
  4. Consider a trainer’s education and credentials.  Trainers learn differently.  Some gain knowledge through apprenticeship, others through formal education.  Talk to your local trainer and learn how many years of experience he/she has.  Also, inquire about any certifications the trainer has acquired.  In addition, learn if the trainer is a member of any professional organization.
  5. Do you like the trainer?  Prior to committing, always speak with the trainer first.  What type of personality does he/she have?  What are his/her people skills like?  When working with puppies, is the breeder first kind, patient, and encouraging?  Always look for a breeder who you actually like as well as feel comfortable leaving your puppy with.
  6. Ask to observe a class.  Again, prior to scheduling your first session, ask to observe a training class.  This allows you to see the trainer in action.  Note especially how he/she responds to challenges and surprises in the classroom.
  7. Ask for references.  Speak with your local veterinarian.  Ask your fellow dog-loving friends, and talk to your neighbors about trainers they recommend.
  8. Go beyond the basics.  Look for a trainer who teaches more than just the basics.  A high-quality trainer will go beyond teaching commands only.  He or she may also discuss with you how your dog best learns, what motivates him/her, and how to best make your little puppy feel safe.
  9. After you start, be alert to shifts.  Over time, a trainer’s methods and style of training may change.  Watch for these changes and be ready to move on should your trainer move in a direction you don’t feel comfortable with.

 

Where do I Find a Dog Trainer?

While you can always search in your local town for high-quality dog trainers, here are two on-line resources of quality dog trainers across the United States.

Simply enter your location to find trainers near you.

First is the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers.  For immediate access, click here.

Screenshot of Certification Counsel for Professional Dog Trainers Website

A second option is The Association of Professional Dog Trainers, which you can access by clicking here.

Screenshot of The Association of Professional Dog Trainers website.

 

While not as reliable, of course you can also do a Google search for dog trainers near me.

Dog Training Resources

Whether you are training your dog yourself or opting for a professional dog trainer, surround yourself with helpful information along the way.

One book we recommend is Don’t Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor.

Screenshot of the dog training book, Don't Shoot The Dog.

In the book, Pryor explains a basic set of principles for behavioral training.  She delves into how these principles can be applied to any common situation without yelling, without getting angry, and without shooting the dog.

Pryor expounds, “Whatever the task, whether keeping a four-year-old quiet in public, housebreaking a puppy, coaching a team, or memorizing a poem, it will go fast, and better, and be more fun, if you know how to use reinforcement.”

 

In addition to good reading, you could enroll in an online course such as Dog Training 101 by Jean Donaldson.

Dog Training 101 course by Jean Donaldson.

 

Donaldson is an expert dog trainer who is excited about equipping dog parents with proven training techniques.

Within the course, trainees discover why many training programs are not successful, along with how to actually train your dog for success.

The course is organized into twenty-four units to break everything into attractive, digestible pieces.

 

In addition to positive books and on-line courses, you could also listen to podcasts, find a favorite you-tube channel, or follow expert dog trainers on social media.

Whatever the case, be intentional about surrounding yourself with positive, encouraging voices as you train your little pupper to be her very best self.

 

How Much do Dog Training Classes Cost?

How much you can expect to spend in training your puppy will rely both on your location, as well as what type of training you choose.

If you opt to enroll your puppy in a training class, these are typically in packages of six and are the most cost-efficient options.

Another option is to hire a private dog trainer.  This will typically cost more although you are rewarded with personal one-on-one training with training specific to want you want.

If pricing is not on a breeder’s website, feel free to reach out and contact them directly to learn their packages and pricing.

 

Dog Training FAQ

Q. How much does dog training cost?

For dog training classes, prices vary on average between $30.00 to $80.00 per class. In addition, instructors with more experience are likely to be on the higher price end.

 

Q. How much does it cost to hire a private dog trainer?

To hire a private dog trainer, the current national average varies between $90 – $140.  Private instructors are typically more expensive than group classes as you get personalized, one-on-one instruction.

 

Q. How many training sessions does a dog need? 

If you are training in a group, lessons are often sold in packages of six.  After the sessions are complete, you can opt for additional training if you prefer.

 

Q. How long should I train at one time?

When training your dog, keep training intervals short and frequent. You’ll experience best results when you train frequently each day for only five to fifteen minutes at a time.

 

Q. What are the benefits of private dog training?

Private dog trainers provide personalized training that specifically targets your dog. He/she can address unique behaviors while troubleshooting with you on how to best raise and nurture your dog.

 

Q. What should I look for in a dog trainer?

Look for a professional dog trainer who utilizes positive reinforcement and is always kind, consistent, and firm.  Also, learn what credentials a trainer has, along with years of experience.

 

Q. What is the best method to train a dog?

Research has proven positive reinforcement as the best method for training a dog.  Positive reinforcement simply reinforces good behavior by offering rewards for doing good, while negating bad behavior.

 

Q. When should you start training a dog?

Start training on the first day your dog comes home.  Many puppies arrive home when they are eight weeks old.  Begin training immediately for a well-behaved puppy.

 

 

Wrapping It Up

Whether you are planning to do all the training yourself or hire a dog training expert, don’t be intimidated.

Above all else, be kind, firm, and consistent.

Reward often and be clear about what you expect.

Know that in time, your hard work will pay off.

Your puppy will catch on and soon you’ll both be enjoying happy moments together.

 

In the meantime, what’s the first command your puppy ever learned?  We’d love to hear in the comments below.

 

As always, we’re glad you’re here.

We believe in your ability to love and train your puppy well.

We’re cheering you on!

VIP Puppies

 

References:

A guide to choosing the best dog trainer for you and your dog (2019).  WholeDog Journal.  Retrieved from https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/training/a-guide-to-choosing-the-best-dog-trainer-for-you-and-your-dog/.

Bender, A. (2019).  How to train your dog.  Retrieved from https://www.companionanimalpsychology.com/2016/12/how-to-choose-dog-trainer.html.

10 best training tips (n.d.).  Pedigree.  Retrieved from https://www.pedigree.com/dog-care/training/10-best-training-tips.

Lunchick, P. (2018).  Teach your puppy these 5 basic commands.  Retrieved from https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/teach-your-puppy-these-5-basic-commands/.

Gibeault, S. (2018).  Choosing a great dog trainer 101.  Retrieved from https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/choosing-a-dog-trainer/.

Todd, Z. (2016).  How to choose a dog trainer.  Retrieved from https://www.companionanimalpsychology.com/2016/12/how-to-choose-dog-trainer.html.

 

 

Profile picture of the author - Anna LengacherAs the Editor in Chief, Anna Lengacher helps dog lovers learn the ropes of finding, raising, and caring for their dogs so they can enjoy many happy memories together.

 

 

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