Dog Training Basics

Whether you are training your dog yourself or using the services of a professional dog trainer, the training process will be quicker and more effective if you have an understanding of dog training basics. Though each dog and his owner have individual circumstances and needs, there are some basic guidelines for dog training that apply to almost every situation.


The first rule of effective dog training basics is being consistent. This means that all prompts and cues for behaviors must be the same every time. If you are using the word "sit" to cue your dog to put his bottom on the floor, then always use the word "sit". "Down" cannot mean "lay down" and also mean "don't jump on me". Each word must mean the same thing every time, and each behavior must have its own unique name. Consistency also means that the consequence of a behavior is always the same as well. The consequences of good behavior should always result in a reward such as treats, play or petting. The result of inappropriate behavior should result in not getting the thing your dog desires such as play, a walk or attention. Consistently reinforce desirable behaviors and always ignore and reject inappropriate behavior.

A Successful Learning Environment

When your dog is learning something new, provide him with a good learning environment. Start off in an area that is familiar to him with little or no distractions around to interfere with his concentration. Use a calm and encouraging tone when speaking to your dog during training. This will motivate him to want to learn and earn your approval for his success. Keep your training sessions short (10 minutes or less) and upbeat. Working with your dog for two or three brief training sessions in a secure, low distraction area will help him learn how to listen to you and perform the behaviors that you ask of him. Once he has mastered a new cue without distractions, you can begin slowly adding them.

Practice Makes Perfect

Practicing a behavior and having it yield a positive result will strengthen the behavior. This applies to desirable and inappropriate behaviors. If your dog barks at you to get your attention and you speak to him when he barks, he will bark more. Do not allow your dog to practice inappropriate behavior such as barking and destructive chewing by keeping him confined when you are not supervising him. Preventing access to the circumstances that motivate bad behavior will help to stop it from happening. If you ask your dog to sit politely before you give him his food bowl, he will learn to sit politely to get the things that he wants. If you are with your dog, you are teaching him something. Take every moment the two of you are together to reinforce calm and obedient behavior. Prompting him to perform obedience cues before you give him the things that he wants will reinforce positive behavior and will also make learning fun for your dog.