Image by Joe Caione

Training Success Tips

We don't get the behavior we want, we get the behavior we train. 
Follow these tips to quickly train the behavior that you want.


Don't be stingy with the treats

The MORE treats they get in the beginning, the faster the behavior is learned and treats can be faded out. Training with treats makes it fun for the dog and they work harder for you. Studies since the 1940s have proven this to be true.

Keep the treats small so that your dog doesn't get full or gain weight. I've trained several dogs using treats while helping them lose weight at the same time. 


Use Treats that your dog will jump through fire for

If they don't LOVE the treats, then they won't LOVE the training. The effort they give will match the quality of the reward. Better reward = better effort!


Keep training sessions short and fun

Both you and your dog should enjoy the process. It's a fun activity with your dog and not a dreaded chore. If either of you are frustrated, bored, or annoyed, stop and email us to let us help you figure it out. 

Frustration usually comes from lack of success. If your dog isn't getting it, make it easier:

  • Move to an area with fewer distractions

  • Shorten the duration (less time holding the position)

  • Shorten the distance (move closer to them)

  • Increase the value of the reinforcer (get better treats)

  • Increase the rate of reinforcment (give treats more often)

  • Remember to praise!


Be clear and consistent

  • A cue (command) can only mean ONE thing. Down cannot mean lie down on Tuesdays and get off the couch on Thursdays. 

  • Only say a cue one time. If your dog doesn't respond right away, wait a few seconds to give them a chance, then help them out by showing them what you want (hand signal). If they aren't getting it, talk LESS - not more.

  • Slow down, stand up straight, and breathe!

  • Never punish your dog for something he or she does not know. 


Don't give up!

If we had a dollar for every student who said, "my dog WON'T lie down!"... Of course they will, they aren't horses! Even horses lie down eventually, but you get the idea.

If your dog doesn't do something you ask, don't throw your hands up and quit. Dogs learn real fast who they can get away with things with (like kids do with grandparents)! Dogs do what works, and if blowing you off works, that's what they will do. Be patient, and make the behavior easier if your dog is struggling.


Positive does not mean Permissive

Training with positive reinforcement (treats) is not hippy-dippy kumbaya stuff just to make you feel good. It is backed by Science. Behavior is created by consequences - not by commands. Put simply, if a behavior works for the dog they will keep doing it. If it doesn't work they will stop. If a child touches a hot stove, the consequence is PAIN so they don't repeat that behavior. If they throw a tantrum in the store and the consequence is they get a new toy, they will repeat that behavior because it worked! 

Positive reinforcement training builds drive for the behaviors you do want better than any other method. Bonus - a better relationship with your dog!


End each training session with play or a sniff walk

The more excited a dog is about working, the stronger their work ethic will be. Leave them with a great positive imporession of training by ending with a short play session, or let them sniff around. Play tug or fetch or simply jolly up your dog with excited happy talk, praise, and petting.