Basic Training Questions, Answered

When it comes to dog training, there are plenty of simple things you can do to maximize your dog’s results. From the type of treats you use to when you choose to train, even the little details can impact your dog’s ability to learn.

When is the best time of day to train your dog?

When they are hungry, of course! If you’re using reward-based training techniques, your dog will be more likely to perform if they haven’t yet had their next meal. If you’re worried about giving your dog too many treats, you can even use kibble as the reward. Of course, if you’re training a new command, you’ll probably be more successful with a higher value treat.

What treats should I use?

Use treats your dog likes. When trainers talk about “high value” rewards, they’re referring to rewards that your dog perceives as high value. Spending your weekly grocery allowance on dog treats doesn’t guarantee results. Dogs can be just as picky as two-year-old children when it comes to food and treats. I’ve seen dogs who love jalapeño peppers (don’t give these to your dog unless you enjoy cleaning up diarrhea) and dogs who think peanut butter is gross. Your best bet is to get a few types of treats that are safe for your dog, and see what they like best. Make a game of it! If they get super excited, begin jumping around, maybe even start barking at you… then you’ve found a winner!

I’ve had good luck with shredded chicken (boiled, non-seasoned), cheddar cheese, and a variety of training treats that are small, soft and stinky. Small treats keep your dog from filling up too fast. Soft treats are faster to chew. And stinky treats keep your dog’s attention/nose on you.

Where should I train?

For the best results, begin training in a quiet area free of others dogs, kids and distractions. You can always introduce distractions later when your dog has a fairly good understanding of what your asking of him.

If you’re looking for a trainer, try to find a trainer that offers private lessons and that can help you safely introduce your dog to public places and other dogs. While large group class settings are often less expensive, they don’t really show your dog what the “real world” is like and they are often too distracting for your dog to really learn while in class. Private lessons, on the other hand, give you the opportunity to work with a trainer on your specific needs.


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