five golden rules of dog training

Five Golden Rules of Dog Training

But when it comes to obedience training, it’s important to work smarter—not harder—with some tricks of the trade to make your lessons stick. Want to know how to train your dog in a way that works? Take a look at these five golden rules for dog training.

1. Go at your dog’s pace

You might think blocking out a two-hour dog training session in your diary is the way to go, but canines can only concentrate for so long— and remember, training is heavy cognitive work for them.

Break your trick and obedience training into short, regular sessions rather than pressing your pup to go for hours at a time. Otherwise, they may get tired, frustrated, bored and overwhelmed, and won’t learn as efficiently. Around 15-20 minutes every day, broken into five-minute blocks, is plenty for young puppies, while a block of 15-20 minutes maximum is enough for older dogs.

It can be a great idea to finish up each session practicing a command your dog already knows, which they are sure to get right, so they can finish on a positive note.

2. Consistency and patience are key

Don’t give up on your pup just because they don’t learn a new trick the first time around. Canines (like humans) learn at different rates, and if your pup is taking longer than you’d expect to pick up a new trick, don’t despair or stop their obedience training altogether. This is an ongoing practice that will require consistent effort from you each and every day.

It’s also essential to stay consistent with the commands or cues you’re teaching your dog. For example, if you sometimes tell them to “lie down” and at other times tell them to “drop”, this will confuse them. Pick one cue and stick to it. Similarly, don’t use the same command or cue for different actions—one consistently used cue per action is key to their learning. Make sure everyone in the household is using the same cues, too!

3. Make the reward worthwhile

All training should be rewards-based, according to the experts at Alaska Dog Works, and the more your dog values the reward you give them during trick and obedience training, the more likely they are to repeat that behavior (in exchange for that same reward).

For many dogs, this means special food treats, such as small pieces of cheese or meat—be sure to save these extra-special treats for dog training so they maintain their value. However, not all dogs are food motivated so for these particular pups, treats won’t be considered particularly valuable. For these pups, you need to determine what they see as a great reward, which might be playing with a ball or a game of tug, praise or a good belly scratch or pat.

4. Set your dog up for success

You want your dog to succeed, and your pup just wants to please you, so give them the best chance by making it easy for them to get it right. This means minimizing distractions, especially when they’re learning a new trick or command. Choose a quiet room in your house, without other people or animals, traffic noises, interesting smells, etc to capture their attention. Make sure you (and the reward) are the most interesting things available during your session, so their attention doesn’t wander during dog training.

5. Never punish

Training that involves punishing your pup for unwanted behavior is not supported by the trainers at Alaska Dog Works, and several studies show that aversive dog training techniques such as this are stressful for dogs.

You also run the risk of accidentally reinforcing unwanted behavior—for example, if your dog is barking excessively because they want attention and you yell at them to stop, you are giving them the outcome they wanted (because any attention is better than no attention, in their eyes), so they’ll keep barking as they know it gets your attention. It’s far more effective to reward them when they’re quiet and simply ignore the barking.

Punishing your dog for making mistakes can also damage the trust between you. You can read more on how to train your dog with positive reinforcement here.

Happy training!


We offer a FREE Discovery Call.

Click on the graphic to learn more