Dog Training, Tips, Tricks, and Plenty of Good Advice

Do’s and Don’ts

Pack Leadership Do’s and Don’ts

Want to be the leader of your pack?
Follow these simple rules.


  • Eat before you feed your dog.
  • Restrict access to your bedrooms and furniture.
  • Take the shortest route to your destination and make your dog move out of the way.
  • Proceed first through narrow passages.
  • Run the opposite direction if your dog “takes off” on a walk.
  • Take your dog’s “kills” (stolen articles or food) away.
  • Call your dog to you to give affection.
  • Ignore or discourage pawing, nudging, and whining.
  • Ignore your dog first thing in the morning, when you get home, or when you come in.
  • Restrict your dog’s movements with the “long down” exercise.
  • Initiate games with your dog, make sure you win them and end up with possession of the toy.
  • Reward your dog for completing an exercise well.


  • Feed your dog first.
  • Let your dog sleep in or on your bed.
  • Let your dog restrict your access to anything in the house or take up residence in a doorway.
  • Let your dog bound out ahead of you.
  • Chase your dog yelling “Come!”
  • Allow your dog to keep or play with the “kill.”
  • Go over to your dog to give affection.
  • Give attention when your dog demands it.
  • Make a large fuss over your dog whenever he demands that you do so.
  • Give more than one command, or give up.
  • Play games, especially tug of war, if you can’t win, or give the toy to your dog after the game is over.
  • Give any command if you are not prepared to enforce it.

From: Cranbourne Dog Training School

Puppy Training – Reinforcements

What follows is an in depth explanation of the different forms of reinforcement, along with general guidelines about when and how to use them.

What is Reinforcement?

Reinforcement is information. It tells your puppy just what you like and don’t like. It works only on behavior that is already occurring. You cannot reinforce behavior that isn’t happening. Timing is critical. It must happen at the exact same time as the behavior you want to modify.

Positive Reinforcement

  • Encourages specific behavior to be repeated.
  • Something your puppy wants.
    • Praise (“good puppy”). Tone of voice is very important.
    • Petting, tummy rubs, etc.
    • Attention, eye contact.
  • Feels good.
  • Use generously.
  • Timing is critical – I cannot stress this enough.
    • Positive reinforcement that occurs too soon teaches your puppy how to manipulate you.
    • Positive reinforcement that occurs too late reinforces the wrong behavior.
  • Positive reinforcements that involve food should be limited to one small mouthful. Use sparingly on specific behaviors only.
    • Come when called.
    • “Out.” Get your nose out of my food.
    • Successful potty break outside.
    • To revive interest in previously learned behaviors.

Negative Reinforcement

  • Discourages specific behavior.
  • Something your puppy wants to avoid.
    • Verbal correction (“NO”), tone of voice important.
    • Physical correction.
      1. Hard squeeze of muzzle or feet for jumping or biting.
      2. Sharp jerk with a leash, or hand on collar.
      3. Scruff shake.
      4. Quick spin through the air.
    • Squirt bottle.
    • Shake can or other sharp noise.
  • Feels bad.
  • Use sparingly.
  • Timing is critical – I cannot stress this enough.
    • Negative reinforcement that occurs too late is called “punishment” and does nothing to educate your puppy.
    • Negative reinforcement that occurs too soon may actually prevent the behavior you are trying to encourage.
  • Negative reinforcements should be only just strong enough to make an effective impression, but not so strong as to cause fear.


  • A surprising reward 10 times bigger than what your puppy is used to (treats are acceptable).
  • Can be used to mark a sudden breakthrough.
  • And also as a morale booster.
  • Will help your puppy maintain a positive attitude about you, and the training.
  • Do not do this very often or it will use it’s effectiveness.

Conditioned Reinforcement

  • Teaches your puppy to respond to the following:
    • Verbal praise – an all purpose positive reinforcement.
    • Verbal correction – an all purpose negative reinforcement.
    • Other signals – reinforcement for specific behaviors.
      1. Sounds such as bells, clickers, whistles.
      2. Motions such as hand signals, or specific actions.
      3. Lights, or anything your puppy responds to visually.
  • Establishes more exact communication.
    • Tells your puppy exactly which part of a behavior you like the best.
    • Reinforces behavior without interrupting it.
  • Has more power than ordinary reinforcements because:
    • It works on an unconscious level.
    • Can be paired with several ordinary reinforcements such as:
      1. Food, water, and petting.
      2. Tummy rug, treats, focused attention.
      3. Loud noise, squirt bottle, leash correction.
    • It says, “You’re right!” which is important information, and a valuable reinforcement by itself.

How to establish a conditioned reinforcement

  • Verbal Praise
    • Pick one phrase and use ONLY for this purpose.
      1. “Good Puppy” or “Very Good” or “Thank You”
      2. Something similar to the above.
    • Always use a POSITIVE tone of voice.
    • Say the phrase when giving food, water, treats, tummy rubs, ear scratches, etc.
    • Do NOT continue to say the phrase after the positive reinforcement is finished.
  • Verbal Correction
    • Pick one phrase and use ONLY for this purpose.
      1. “Bad” or “No” or “Shame on you.”
      2. Something similar to the above.
      3. Do not use in conjunction with your puppy’s name.
    • Always use a STERN demanding tone of voice.
    • Say the phrase when using negative reinforcements.
    • Do NOT continue to say the phrase after the incident, or naughty behavior is finished and dealt with.
  • Signals, bells, clickers, whistles, lights, etc. for POSITIVE reinforcement.
    • Make the signal and give a reward.
    • Do this until the signal brings the puppy to you for another reward.
    • When the connection between the signal and the reward is made, begin to use the signal to reinforce behavior while it is happening.
    • Use the signal for ONE behavior at a time.
  • Use your conditioned reinforcements sparingly.
    • Try to pick words, phrases, and or sounds that your puppy will not ordinarily hear during the course of the day.
    • Do not repeat the words or sound over and over again during the action unless you have a specific reason.

How to maintain what your puppy has learned.

  • Random Reinforcement.
    • Positive reinforcement should be constant and consistent during the LEARNING process only.
    • As soon as your puppy has learned a specific behavior, cooperation is expected.
    • Positive reinforcement is given only when the behavior is done quickly, or unusually well.
    • Do not use random reinforcement to eliminate unwanted behavior.
  • Avoid pampering and spoiling.
    • If positive reinforcement is too easy for your puppy to achieve, the desire to try harder will NOT be reinforced, and you will get less and less instead of more and more.
    • If negative reinforcements are easy to ignore, your puppy will continue to test established boundaries, and you will find yourself in a continual struggle for authority.
  • Variable Schedule.
    • Do NOT use when working to ELIMINATE behavior.
    • Use when the behavior has been perfected.
    • Gradually phase out positive reinforcements.
    • Limit yourself to reinforcement, every 3rd, 5th, 7th, etc.
    • Every now and then throw in a “jackpot.”
    • Keep your puppy guessing.
    • A long schedule is the most effective.

Exceptions to the variable schedule

  • When you are working to eliminate an unwanted behavior.
  • When solving a puzzle, or taking a test.
  • When it is necessary to make a choice between two or more items, or actions.
  • Whenever independent thinking is required, some sort of feedback is necessary, and can be in the form of conditioned reinforcements.

Written by: Shirley Janner


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Puppy Training – Guidelines

Know and understand your puppy.

  • Your puppy’s temperament will determine what rewards and which corrections will be most effective.
  • Take into consideration how your puppy reacts to his senses.
  • Don’t forget that your puppy is a DOG, and that certain behaviors are part of his DNA and to be expected.
  • Dogs and puppies are motivated by pleasure, pain, fear, and also by their assessment of their place in the family or pack.
  • Dogs and puppies have a strong need for leadership. If you do not take the role of leader, your puppy will.

Teach one thing at a time.

  • Too many different things at once can be confusing.
  • Divide complicated tasks into simple steps.

Take it one small step at a time.

  • Make steady improvement easy for your puppy.
  • Do not expect too much too soon.

Don’t rush the training.

  • You have to walk before you can run.
  • Patience and repetition are important words to remember.

Temporarily ease up on everything else when introducing something new.

  • The key word here is TEMPORARY.
  • Do correct mistakes, but gently and with patience.
  • Expect mistakes whenever something new is introduced, or when working with your puppy in a new place.

Plan ahead.

  • Know in advance the desired result.
  • If your puppy suddenly catches on to what it is you want, this will give you a good opportunity to make quick progress.

If what you are doing isn’t working…

  • If what you are doing isn’t working, and you’ve put in the time, the repetition, and the patience – rethink your strategy.
  • Trust your intuition.
  • Be open to new ideas.

Timing is very important.

  • Everything that happens to a puppy happens right now.
  • Praise and correction must be handed out during or immediately following the behavior or yhour puppy will not get the message.

When working with your puppy, stay focused.

  • Don’t stop in the middle of a session to talk on the phone, smoke a cigarette, or etc.
  • Remember, training is a form of communication.
  • Removal of attention can be a negative reinforcement.

Positive and negative reinforcements, how to use them:

  • The reward for good behavior must outweigh the pleasure gained from the bad behavior.
  • The correction must override but not overwhelm the will of the puppy to continue with the bad behavior.
  • Use lots of positive reinforcement.
  • Be sparing but effective with the negative reinforcements.

If your puppy suddenly “forgets”…

  • If your puppy suddenly “forgets” what he has learned, go back to the basics.
  • Sometimes a quick refresher is what is needed.
  • A relapse midway into training is common and usually means you are about to make a major breakthrough – so don’t get discouraged and quit.

Quit while you are ahead.

  • Make progress in each training session
  • End each session on a high note.
  • Too much pressure or too many repetitions can ruin a training session. Three times in a row is usually suficient.
  • If necessary, end the training session on something easy.

A successful outcome depends on these factors:

  • Patience and persistence
  • Consistency and repetition.
  • Whether or not you took the time to follow through.

Written by: Shirley Janner


You are welcome to share this post but ONLY IF you give credit and a link back to Teach Your Dog To Behave or

Puppy Training – The Basic Principles

A puppy learns through – Consistency and repetition.

This requires:

  • Patience
  • Persistence
  • Confidence
  • Follow through
  • TIME

You will also need – Knowledge of your puppy’s temperament, an understanding of canine behavior, and a balance of rewards and consequences.

Crimes and Corrections / Praise and Discipline:

  • The reward for “good” behavior must outweigh the pleasure gained from the “bad” behavior.
  • The correction must override the will of the puppy to continue with the “bad” behavior, without overwhelming the will of the puppy to make decisions.
  • The puppy’s confidence in naughtiness must be shaken, and at the same time, the puppy’s confidence in self, and in you, must remain strong.
  • An understanding of why your puppy is doing a particular thing can be very helpful, also take into consideration how your puppy reacts to his senses.
  • Puppies are motivated by pleasure, pain, fear, and also by their assessment of their place in the family or pack.
  • Dogs and puppies have a strong need for leadership. If you cannot take on the role of leader, your puppy will.


Everything that happens to a puppy happens right now. Praise and correction must be handed out during or immediately following the behavior or your puppy will not get the message you are trying to get across.

Written by: Shirley Gibson


You are welcome to share this post but ONLY IF you give credit and a link back to Teach Your Dog To Behave or

Holiday Toxins and Dangers

This is the time of year when pets can be exposed inadvertently to toxic substances or tempting taste treats that can be dangerous.

One “toxic” plant you don’t have to worry much about is the poinsettia, though. These plants are either nontoxic or only slightly irritating to the gastrointestinal tract, depending on the reference source. On the other hand, mistletoe berries are poisonous and it is best to be very careful when hanging mistletoe so that pets are not exposed to the berries. Even one or two berries of this plant may be fatal. Even the products used to help plants make it through the holidays can be a problem.

Some of the solutions used to make the Christmas tree last through a long holiday season can be pretty irritating to mouth or stomach tissues. If you add these to the water in your Christmas tree stand you should be sure that pets can not drink the water.

Plants are not the only problems. Holiday food treats and decorations can be dangerous to pets. It takes a fairly large amount of milk chocolate to cause poisoning problems in dogs and cats but a whole box of chocolates is likely to cause diarrhea at the least and may be toxic to smaller pets.

Tinsel strands seem to be very attractive to cats and these will often cause severe problems, often requiring surgical removal to prevent the death of the cat if they are ingested. For some reason, almost every season a dog or cat in our practice eats a Christmas tree ornament or even one of the light bulbs off the tree. Chewing on the extension cords to the tree lights or the electric train around the tree sometimes leads to problems, too.

The abundance of food found at holiday tables presents a danger even if it isn’t cooked by your mother-in-law who believes in partially thawing the turkey then cooking it a 200 degrees. We see a definite increase in pancreatitis around the holidays due to pets getting fat laden table scraps. At least one dog a year manages to eat the whole turkey carcass and has a major case of constipation in a day or so. Try to resist the urge to cover the pet’s food with the extra gravy and put the trash out of reach of pets after an attractive meal!

Pets sometimes have a really hard time adjusting to the increases in family activity around the holidays. They may not handle the stress of house guests well. Often just scheduling a few minutes at approximately the same time each day to spend playing with your dog or reviewing those obedience exercises can make the holidays a lot easier for an anxious canine. Cats are a little harder to reassure and it is sometimes best just to make sure they have a safe haven in the house where the guests can’t find them, especially the very young guests. Make sure their litter pan is private, too.

If you are going to board your pet for the holidays make sure their vaccinations are current well before the time for boarding and check to see if there are special vaccination requirements at the boarding kennel, such as requiring Bordetella (kennel cough) vaccination. Make sure you have all the contact numbers for wherever you will be written down for the kennel, pet sitter or veterinary hospital. You might even consider giving your vet written permission to treat your pets in your absence, especially if your relationship with your vet is not close enough to be sure he or she would be comfortable caring for the pets without your permission.

Do not tranquilize pets for air travel if you are taking them with you, unless you are absolutely certain it is necessary. A recent review of pet deaths during airplane trips revealed that most of the pets who died had been sedated. The effects of sedatives are intensified at higher altitudes and even though cargo holds are pressurized they are at a lower atmospheric pressure than is found at ground level. If you do have to sedate a pet follow the veterinarian’s directions EXACTLY. It could save your pet’s life!

If you take a little time to prepare and think about the special risks holidays impose your pet should be safe. Just in case, make sure you know the number of the emergency veterinary hospitals in your are and can drive by it to be sure you can find it an emergency when you may not be thinking as clearly as on an ordinary day.

Source: Michael Richards, DVM

Training Do’s and Don’ts

All dogs (unless physically handicapped) see and hear and have feelings, so your first concern should be from your pup’s point of view. One very good way to consider him is to form one especially important habit right now. If you smoke, never do it while training or playing with your Buddy. A hot ash, accidentally dropped in his eye could cause irreparable damage.

Your body can be a towering mass for your pup to fear, or, as we hope, it can be his security and something to love. In training, try to visualize everything from his point of view. Therefore, instead of bending over so that you still tower over him, it’s much better to squat down and let him see you at the same level he is.

Be careful, too, about how you use your eyes. As crazy as it may seem to you, they can be very upsetting to your pup. Never stare at your Buddy; look over his head or to one side of him. Don’t forget that your intentions are transmitted to your pup in many ways, sometimes even in ways that we cannot fathom or explain to our own satisfaction. The bond that develops between the two of you is a great fulfillment and should not be dealt with lightly.

A list of ‘Do’s’ for training:

  • Teach only what you understand.
  • Follow any correction with praise and work.
  • Work with your pup as a team.
  • Wear quiet, comfortable shoes when training.
  • Wear clothing that does not interfere with your pup.
  • Stop your training before losing your temper.
  • Be consistent with your training, at home or in class.

A list of ‘Don’ts’ for training:

  • Correct by slapping with a lead.
  • Correct if you are not positive your pup fully understands.
  • Be a show-off with your training.
  • Over train.

You know your dog-work WITH him. Don’t confuse him with sudden drastic changes. Avoid resentment as well. Practice. Practice. Practice. Take nothing for granted.

-excerpts from
The Pearsall Guide to Successful Dog Training
by Margaret E. Pearsall

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