Training Your Dog

Often, dogs are returned to the shelter or rescue because they are “bad dogs”.  However, in many of these cases, the dogs could have been a wonderful addition to the family, but were misunderstood or lacked the ability to communicate with their family.  Review these tips on training your dog and you may find that the dog that left you frustrated a few weeks ago is making you proud now:

  • Start Early – The old adage is not necessarily true, you CAN teach an old dog new tricks.  But, like humans, dogs get used to certain patterns or rhythms; it makes it harder to train an older dog.  So, if you have a puppy, start the learning process early so they develop good habits right away.
  • Treat Your Dog Well – It is easy to get frustrated when you are trying to train your dog.  However, if you yell or hit the dog, it will hinder the learning process and your dog may learn to fear the sessions.  By keeping it positive, you make the sessions enjoyable and aid the learning process.
  • Ensure Your Dog Listens to You – If you continue to tell your dog not to jump all over you when you get home and s/he does it anyway, it is a sure sign the dog won’t listen to you when you are outside your home.  Your dog is most comfortable at home, so it is easiest to have him/her begin to obey commands here.
  • Say It Once – Although it is tempting to tell your dog to sit several times in a row in an attempt to have him/her do it, repeating it does not help enforce the action.  When teaching a command, say it with authority once and then gently move the dog into the desired position.
  • Use One Word – Rather than saying stay here or sit down as command, use stay or sit.  One word commands are easier for dogs to understand.
  • Don’t Punish – Yes, it is frustrating when you have been working with your dog for weeks and s/he does not want to learn the command – sit.  Although you may feel as if the dog will “get it” if you punish it, the dog won’t understand the punishment and it will inhibit the learning process.  Remember, some dogs take a little longer to learn things than others, so it is important to be patient and to continue working with your dog.  S/he will learn the command.

If your dog has more significant behavior issues or if you want the advice of an expert, you can work with a dog trainer.  This can be done in your own home; most times the trainer will come to you.  In these sessions, the trainer will go over commands with you and provide guidance regarding how to teach them to your dog.  If you have specific behavioral problems, e.g., barking, jumping or begging, the trainer can work with you and the dog to develop a plan for changing these habits.  In addition to one-on-one training sessions, many major pet stores and other pet care services (doggie day cares or kennels) offer basic obedience classes at which you can learn the basic commands.  These sessions are best for dogs who are brushing up on skills learned at home.

So, before you give up your new friend due to bad manners, set aside some time to work with the dog and build good communication between him/her and you.  Before you know it, everyone will be talking about what a good dog you have and you will have saved yourself the heartache of losing a wonderful companion.

If you find that you are having a difficult time with your dog, please contact us at We are happy to assist you in getting the help that you need

by Danielle Brogan