The best and most practical free dog training tip I can offer anyone is HAVE FUN! Have fun with your family or significant other, in choosing the best dog breed for your family pet. Have fun with the process of investigating the possibilities, tools and toys needed to prepare for the new pup’s arrival. Have fun looking around, playing with various pups and dogs until you find the “right one.” And, of course, have fun with that new friend!
No Matter What!
No matter what breed, rescue, age, or purpose for your new four-legged companion, dogs thrive on what is fun for them. It keeps them motivated, focused and makes for an all-round healthy pup and pack. Having fun with them also keeps you–the pack leader–motivated, reduces stress, and keeps the relationship quite rewarding.
Whether simply housebreaking (okay, that is often not so simple!), or trying new tricks, or basic to advanced obedience, keep the training fun for you and your pup. Leerburg has some awesome videos for doing just that. The videos will cost you a little, but are well worth it. Keep watch here and you will soon find some videos of my own, implementing the very tactics and tips taught in those training videos.
Throughout your days, everything can be (and should be) used as training moments. Keep watch for those opportunities to redirect or teach something new to your pack and its members. Once you realize that a dog looks to you for direction (especially if you have established yourself as the pack leader), you will be able to have fun in all things puppy. You will also find that all other training comes with greater ease–for both you and your pup! Soon after building these healthy habits you will establish a firm foundation for a lifetime of a mutually beneficial relationship.
Key Tip #1: Always be mindful of the fact that training starts with you, and must include other members of your pack.
Key Tip #2: Be watchful and take every opportunity for a training moment.
Key Tip #3: Have FUN!
Why I most certainly do! The first that comes to mind is how folks that visit my home think it’s so funny that my dogs know what “excuse me” means. This started a long time ago, but I’ll use my Mia for this example.
It just makes sense to me that having a pooch about the house involves lots of cross over areas. If you’re in my kitchen and I need to squeeze by to open the fridge, most likely I’ll say, “Excuse me.” And I think we all know how it can be when a playful pup is under foot or in the way constantly. That can be frustrating! So it’s just sensible dog training, to me at least, to incorporate some things that are common in household etiquette (for want of words).
To make the most of every opportunity in helping my pup become a great pack member, I let Mia play and follow me around. When she was “in the way”, I gently nudged her with my foot or leg and said, “Excuse me.” Every time. Of course, the first many times she took this as an invite to play tug with my foot or pant leg, but she’d still move. I praised her for any movement away from the area I needed her out of. Rarely would I give her a treat for something like this. Usually, lavishing attention works just fine to help her get the point in these scenarios. After a few days of doing this consistently she would just move back when I said, “Excuse me.”
Since I was 13 years young with my Norwegian Elkhound, Lady, I have done this. Dogs are amazing animals that are capable of things we humans have yet to discover. No, they are not people or like people–but they are amazing and unique. If we make the time to watch them closely it doesn’t take long to begin to understand how to better communicate our wishes and demands to them. And when we make it fun, it’s all the better for all of us!
Talk with your dog?
There are lots of great books out there…and lots of wacky ones. Some great books even have some wacky stuff in them! It’s important to be able to weed out the wacky from the sensible. Watching our dogs, and not projecting humanness onto them, interact is a great place to help weed out the wacky.
One book I very much enjoyed is On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas. Though I did not agree with some stuff (you can ask me about that below if you like), she is spot on when it comes to the many cues dogs give each other–and even us–to tell us “chill out.” It’s a big help while you learn to read your dog and attempt to communicate with her. Reading it will also help you get in the habit of watching, ready to make the most of every opportunity to have a training moment and have fun with your dog.