5 Foundations for Successful Dog Training

Dog training takes time and patience, but with a little foresight, you can set the stage for confidence and good behavior. These building blocks will arm pet parents with an effective approach to training, making sessions with your pup fun and intuitive!

Foundation #1: Use a Holistic Approach to Dog Training

For training to be successful, it’s important that your dog is healthy in mind and body and that there’s trust between parent and pup. An active, stimulated, and well-socialized dog will:

  • Respond better to obedience training
  • Exhibit fewer unwanted behaviors like chewing
  • Be far less likely to develop problems like aggression and anxiety
  • Be able to give you her full attention

Foundation #2: Match Verbal Language and Tone with Body Language and Action

A dog’s understanding of specific words is extremely limited. The tone is far more important than the words themselves. But it takes practice to make your voice, words, tone, and body language consistent.

For example, when you praise your dog for good behavior, act excited and happy instead of quiet and reserved—the message will be much more impactful. Likewise, don’t pair communications of displeasure with affection. Don’t pet a dog to calm her down when she’s exhibiting unwanted behaviors because you’ll send the message that you approve.

Foundation #3: Timing

Dogs live in the now: not five minutes from now, not five minutes ago—Now! This means that if your pup comes on command, do not wait to say, “Good girl, Lola!” The praise must come as soon as she sits at your feet, for example. The same holds true for disobedience or unwanted behavior.

Foundation #4: Not All Dogs Are Alike – Understand Motivation and Incentives

Every single dog is different, so there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all dog training formula. It’s your job to be attuned to your pup and adapt to what’s working and what isn’t. To do this well, you need to understand what motivates her. Is it food, toys, affection, play, or all four? What will she do anything for? What drives her, and what does she really dislike? Answering these questions is one of the most fun aspects of training a pup!

Foundation #5: Don’t Humanize Your Dog’s Expressions and Behaviors

Avoid attributing unwanted behaviors to revenge, guilt, or remorse. Rather, consider that boredom, anxiety, an overabundance of energy, and not understanding the rules are more realistic causes with practical solutions. And keep in mind that dogs have evolved for millennia to be supremely attuned to the human beings they depend on for survival. Most likely, the way your dog is looking at you reflects the way you’re looking at her.

These foundations for successful dog training are part of whole dog parenting: it’s a process of building trust, cultivating balance, understanding the demands of lifelong care, and establishing clear communication. Set your pup up for success by practicing these foundations before diving into obedience training!

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