How to Train Your Dog

Questions on how to train a dog come up pretty quickly after bringing a new pet home. If you have never had a dog before you are definitely in for some surprises! Dogs are unique pets and can be a wonderful addition to any family, if you understand some basics about how to train a dog, such as when to begin. Here are a few tips to get you started on successfully training your new pet.


When to Begin

You want to begin training your dog as soon as possible, maybe not their first day home but definitely by the second or third day at the latest. Any later than that and you run the risk of allowing bad habits to become ingrained in their behavior, and honestly good training is about preventing behaviors as much as it is about correcting them.

First Lessons

The first thing you should do is establish roles in the “family”. Dogs operate with a pack mentality and the family is an extension of that pack. Your first job is to establish yourself as the alpha member. There are several ways to accomplish this goal including restricting access to furniture, especially your bed. Your new dog should have their own area for sleeping and if you do allow them on the furniture; it should definitely be by invitation only. Therefore becoming alpha is the first goal in how to train a dog.

Basic Commands

When you are ready to begin actual training, you will want to start with the basic commands. These come before teaching them to walk on a leash or any other training. Your dog should know and respond to the commands sit, stay and come. These will be the foundation for all future training. Any time you run into difficulties with other training such as walking, you can bring your dog to the sit position and basically reset the situation instead of getting into a tugging match.

To Treat or Not

There are differing schools of thought on whether you should use treats during training. If you decide to use edible treats as a reward for a job well done, you should alternate this with physical reward. You see the problem with always offering edible treats is your dog may become distracted chewing, become overweight or decide they are not interested in that particular treat today. Soft edible treats, a favorite toy and physical affection are all good options for rewarding proper behavior. There will of course be various opinions on how to train a dog with treats, simply choose the option that works best for you and your pet.

House Training

One of the most often requested pieces of training advice is about house training. Any time you have a young dog in the house potty training is going to be an issue. You should know up front that at least initially this is going to be a messy proposition. It will take some time to thoroughly communicate to your pet that outside is the place for going potty and not the living room rug.

House training should begin with a thorough cleaning of your home, particularly if you have other pets who have had “accidents” before. Your dog determines the best place for using the bathroom by giving it a sniff test, and canines are notorious for good noses.  You can purchase special cleaners that will break down the enzymes in pet urine or feces, which will eradicate the smell completely.

Use of Training Tools

While nothing replaces a correctly implemented training program, you may find that you have a dog who is resistant to traditional methods. This is where properly used training tools can be helpful. It is imperative that you learn the proper use of these tools before using them with your pet. Specialty collars, leashes, harnesses and even muzzles can improve your pet’s behavior and in fact protect them.


Training your dog can provide a happier home for you and them, if done correctly. A dog can quickly become aggressive or extremely timid by training that is too intense. Generally, this happens when a dog owner uses physical punishment for discipline. Take your time and learn everything you can about how to train a dog and you will do fine.

To learn more about training your dog, check out our review of these Top DOG Training Guides!

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