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- Dog training builds effective communication between a dog and its humans.
- Successful dog training relies on rewards-based training that is rooted in the science of learning.
- Figuring out what motivates your dog to learn is essential.
- We spoke with three expert dog trainers to come up with 14 tips, tricks, and essentials to help you train a dog.
Bringing home a new dog is a joyful experience. It’s also a lot of work. Among the many commitments you make to your new pet — daily feeding and walks, regular veterinary care, comfort and freedom from fear — is to build communication through training. But for those who are new to life with dogs, just figuring out where to start can feel overwhelming.
There is no shortage of dog training “experts” on the internet, on television, and in the bookstore. Unfortunately, just because someone claims they are an expert doesn’t make it so. The methods of many so-called expert dog trainers are rooted in pain, fear, and intimidation, not the science of learning.
While you don’t need much to begin training, you do need the right kind of guidance for your dog to be successful. We’ve consulted with two dog training experts for tips, tricks, and essentials for introducing your dog to training. Althea Karwowski is a certified professional dog trainer with seven years of experience and the owner of Sit Stay SF in San Francisco. Sue Minsuk is a San Francisco-based certified dog trainer and counselor with 18 years of experience and the owner of Doggie Do Right Dog Training. I’ve also added my own insight as a certified professional dog trainer with almost a decade of experience.
At its core, effective dog training depends on figuring out what motivates your dog to learn. “Each dog is an individual,” said Karwowski. Find out what your dog truly loves, whether that’s food, play, or access to the outdoors, and use it as a reward for behaviors you want to encourage.
If your dog struggles to progress or seems “stubborn,” chances are that there’s a fairly simple fix to get them unstuck. Giving a dog more space and more choice is one way to support their learning, especially if they are shy. But the trouble may also be related to the quality of the reward you offer or the level of distraction in the environment. “Look more closely at what you’re trying to achieve and break it down into smaller steps,” said Minsuk. And if the environment seems too distracting, try training in a quieter setting.