How to train a dog
Training can be a rewarding journey for both pooch and owner, helping strengthen the bond between you while ensuring you have a well-behaved canine companion. Whether you have a puppy or an older dog in need of some refreshers, we can help you teach all sorts of essential aspects of dog training.
Building a strong foundation for trust
First things first. Before diving into specific training techniques for different results, it’s important that your dog trusts you. Here’s how to establish a strong foundation with your pooch:
Always be sure to reward your dog with their favourite treats, praise and affection when they show the desired behaviours. This will help create positive associations with the training, making it enjoyable for all!
Make sure that whomever is in involved in training your dog uses the same commands and rewards to avoid any confusion in the process. Everyone should work together to use the same cues.
Just like us humans, every dog learns at their own pace. It’s important to be patient and stay calm, even on the more challenging days.
How to train your dog to walk on a leash
Your dog’s daily walks are essential for their health and wellbeing, so making sure your dog has proper lead etiquette will make it a stress-free experience for everyone! Follow these steps to ensure enjoyable walks:
- Introduce the leash: Let your dog get used to their lead by allowing them to wear it in the house before going outside.
- Staying still and quiet: Once they’re used to being attached to their collar or harness, stand still and quiet. Reward your dog for sitting or standing by your side.
- Stop walking when the lead tightens: This will help teach them that walking next to you means they get to move forward and continue walking. Stand still and wait for the lead to loosen, don’t yank the lead or tell them off.
- Be consistent: Consistency in your training and the commands you use will help indicate the desired behaviour. Make sure you reward your dog when they respond correctly.
- Positive associations: Use treats and praise to reward your dog for walking beside you and staying close. Gradually decrease treat rewards as your dog becomes a walkies pro!
How to clicker train a dog
Clicker training is an effective method for making sure your dog is paying attention during training. Here's how to get started:
- Get a clicker: Buy a clicker or use a verbal cue (e.g., "yes") as an alternative. The key is consistency, so when you pick one make sure to stick with it, even when you think it’s not working.
- Show them what it does: Show them the clicker and immediately reward your dog when they do what you asked them to do. This helps them associate the sound with a positive outcome and they’ll anticipate the reward after the ‘click’.
- Ask them to do something they know: Asking your dog to do something that they already know and when they do it, click and reward them. This will also help them realise they’ll be rewarded for good behaviour and help them learn the positives of a clicker.
- Use during training: When teaching a new trick or command, make sure to break it down into smaller steps that should be clicked and rewarded.
Remember: Only click when your dog displays the correct behaviour.
How to crate train a dog
Crate training can be a valuable tool for both house training your pooch and providing them with a safe space. Here are some tips on training your dog to use a crate.
- Positive association: Try and make the crate as comfortable and inviting as possible, by placing toys and treats inside. Never use the crate as a punishment, as they will come to hate any time spent in there.
- Gradual introduction: Begin with letting your pooch spend short periods in the crate and gradually increase as they get used to it. Always reward your dog for entering the crate of their own accord.
- Potty training: You can use the crate to assist with toilet training by taking your dog out immediately after releasing them from the crate. Line the crate with potty pads, just in case an accident does happen as this will make it easier for you to clean up.
See our in-depth guide to crate training your dog.
How to train a reactive dog
Reactive dogs may display anxiety or aggression toward other dogs or people. Dogs might need professional help in severe cases, but here are some tips to try and help:
- Desensitisation: You can gradually expose your dog to any of their triggers at a distance. Always reward calm behaviour with treats or praise, to help them understand that they’re not in danger.
- Stay away: Alternatively, stay away from their triggers. You can do this by taking them for walks during quieter periods of the day or by sticking to familiar paths.
- Counterconditioning: Replace negative reactions with positive ones. For example, reward your dog for looking at other dogs without barking.
- Routine building: Reactivity can often be caused by uncertainty, so knowing what’s coming next will help your pooch remain calm. Try to stick to a daily routine so that your dog knows what to expect and when.
How to train a dog to heel
Teaching your dog to heel means they walk calmly beside you. Follow these steps:
Be prepared: Get your leash and stock up on treats to start your heel training.
- Sit, heel and treat: Start by having your dog sit beside you, hold a treat in front of your dog’s nose, tell them to heel and start walking. To begin with, reward your dog after a couple of steps.
- Cut down the treats: Once you’re able to walk a small distance with your dog beside you, gradually work up to walking a little further before giving them a treat. Always be sure to give them their reward before they lose interest.
- Add a distraction: Adding a distraction to your heel work will help your dog understand what’s expected from the command. Start with lots of treats and praise and slowly phase these out as they get better at ignoring your chosen distraction.
- Practice, practice, practice: Consistency is key in teaching heel and be sure to practice in different environments to help reinforce the behaviour.
How to train your dog to ignore other dogs
If your dog gets overly excited or reacts negatively to other dogs, these tips can help:
- Focus command: Teach your dog to focus on you and redirect their attention away from other dogs. Once they look at you, give them a yummy treat or lots of praise.
- Gradual socialisation: Gradually expose your dog to other dogs in controlled settings and always reward any calm behaviour.
- Distance control: Keep your dog at a safe distance from other dogs or avoid places with too many dogs until they become more comfortable with their presence.
- Play time: If your dog has a few canine friends that they don’t mind being around, make sure to give them a chance to play together. Dogs are social animals, and most will love being given the chance to be their doggy self.
How to train recall dog
Recall training ensures your dog returns to you when called, even in distracting situations. Here's how:
- Start indoors: By starting recall training in a low-distraction environment, your dog will know what’s expected of them before heading outside. Make sure you use a positive and enthusiastic tone.
- Use high-value rewards: Offer your dog an enticing treat or toy when they come to you, so that the reward is better than what they had been doing.
- Practice off-leash: Once your dog responds indoors, you can gradually move to more challenging environments like fenced areas with more distractions.
Remember: Only let your dog off their lead when you can trust that they’ll come back when called.
See our in-depth guide to dog recall training.
Remember that dog training is an ongoing process that requires time, patience and consistency. Celebrate your dog's successes, however small, and be prepared to adapt your training techniques to suit their needs and preferences. Happy training!