Top 10 dog training tips

Dogs are never too young, or old, to start training! Because dogs are always learning, teaching a dog that certain behaviour results in good things happening means they’ll be more likely to behave that way again. Training your dog is an important part of being a responsible owner, because it can prevent unwanted behaviour problems developing. Through training, you can make sure your dog is rewarded for good behaviours that will enable them to lead a safe and happy life, including settling during quiet times, coping when alone, walking nicely on lead, coming whenever called, meeting people and other dogs calmly and having great manners around food! Our Dog Schools teach all these useful skills, and more besides, using fun training methods and games, and with the full support of our expert Coaches.

One of our Dog School Coaches, Megana, shares 10 top training tips…

Two puppies running up to the camera
  1. Before the session starts, make sure your puppy's been to the toilet, and isn't really hungry

  2. Plan exactly what you're going to teach your puppy, and practise without him first of all. This may sound weird, but if you make sure you know what you're doing, and you've gone through the motions physically first, before bringing in your puppy, you'll be less likely to confuse him, or get confused yourself! Don't do too much at once - keeping it simple means your puppy can be confident and get it right. You can then progress slowly, but surely! 

  3. Start your training sessions in a calm place you're both very familiar with, so you can both concentrate without too many distractions.

  4. Always have a reward your puppy will really want and enjoy; this will help to motivate him to find out what he needs to do to earn it, and means he'll always really enjoy the session. Choose something he loves, whether that is food or toys. If you're using food, try cutting your chosen treat into small pieces about the size of a fingernail and count them out into 10s, so you can be sure to give your dog a break after every set of 10 practices! 

  5. If you are worried that your puppy might gain too much weight because of the extra treats, you can use a portion of his daily food ration as part of his training treats.

  6. Always use a good variety of treats, as this will keep your dog interested, and means you can use different types of food at different times in your training. In general, treats are useful for calmer, slower exercises, where you want your dog to stay relaxed, and toys/games are useful for more energetic exercises, such as recall, where the dog comes running to you. You can enjoy a great game together, which will really make your dog's effort worthwhile, and encourage him to want to be with you!

  7. Keep sessions short, and end with a game - counting out your treats helps as it means you won't just keep doing. I do up to 12 repetitions, then stop and have a game. 

  8. If you or your puppy are getting confused or frustrated during training, stop the session with a game. Next time you train, go back to the stage where they were getting it right for a little longer, before trying to move on again. Your puppy might just need a little longer to build confidence, or you may need to practise without them again to make sure you're giving clear instructions. 

  9. Only train your puppy if you're both relaxed and in the mood. If you've had a tough day, just enjoy having fun together, and wait until you're feeling more relaxed - it means you'll both get the most out of each session, and always enjoy training together!

  10. It can be incredibly useful to film yourself training your dog, as you'll be able to look back and see how you were both doing, what kinds of things he was trying in his attempt to work out how to get the reward, and whether you could have given the reward differently. Plus, it's always nice to look back and see you and your puppy bonding and to be able to record your progress!