It's National Train Your Dog Month! Here's Our Top 9 Dog Training Tips

Published: 01/12/2021
January is National Train Your Dog Month. As we settle into a new year, there’s no better time than now to start helping your pup become a better-behaved member of the family.

An initiative of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, National Train Your Dog Month is all about spreading awareness of the importance of socialization and training for every dog. Not only does regular training improve behavior and provide your dog with much-needed mental stimulation, it also helps you develop a stronger bond with your fur-baby.

So if you’re ready to celebrate this special month with your dog, keep reading for our top 9 dog training trips.

1. Make training part of your daily routine

For some pet parents, training is an area of dog care that is often neglected. We all start out with the best of intentions, but then life gets in the way and training falls by the wayside.

But that’s why National Train Your Dog Month is such a great initiative. It encourages dog devotees all over the country to put time and effort into training their furry friends once again.

And training your dog doesn’t have to be hard. All you need to do is to make a commitment to spend a little bit of time training each day. It could be something you do first thing in the morning, a quick session in your lunch break, or part of your pup’s play time when you get home from work.

It’s up to you when you do it — the important part is that you make training part of your pup’s daily routine. Even as little as 5 minutes a day can make a big difference.

2. Use positive reinforcement

Numerous studies have shown that positive reinforcement training is more effective than outdated training methods that rely on punishment. So if you want to give yourself the best chance of success, stick to a rewards-based training program.

Start by working out what your dog’s favorite reward is — it could be treats, play time, praise, cuddles, or a combination of all of the above. Then you can use that reward every time your dog behaves the right way or takes an important step towards learning a new skill.

With a consistent approach, your dog will soon start to get the hang of it.

3. Make it fun

Training may be very important, but that doesn’t mean it can’t also be fun. So rather than taking a strict, rules-based approach, use each training session as an excuse to have some fun with your dog.

Overly repetitive training can quickly become boring for pups, so do whatever you can to make it more enjoyable. Keep your sessions short, use different rewards from time to time, and never chastise your dog for making a mistake.

And if you end each training session on a positive note, your dog will always be keen to come back for more.

4. Be patient

Some dogs learn faster than others. Some dogs are a little headstrong and would rather do things their own way. Some dogs are known more for their looks than their smarts.

Whatever the case may be, there might be times when things don’t go to plan. But if your planning doesn’t produce immediate results, don’t despair. More importantly, don’t get frustrated. Losing your temper with your pup will only confuse them even further, and it won’t get you any closer to your training goal.

So take a deep breath and try again, maybe with a slightly different approach if Plan A isn’t working. Your patience will eventually be rewarded.

5. Don’t just focus on obedience — train some tricks, too!

Sit, stay, and come are all important commands for a dog to learn, but training doesn’t have to be serious all the time. Instead, you can also use your pup’s regular training sessions to focus on teaching them a few tricks.

Best of all, the trick training possibilities are just about endless. Maybe you’d like to teach your playful pup how to bring your slippers, bark on demand, or even jump through a hoop — it’s up to you.  

Besides, trick training is great fun, offers excellent mental stimulation, and gives your pup a cool trick they can show off to your friends. What’s not to love!

6. Mix it up

If you think your training sessions might be getting a little too stale and predictable, why not try something different?. We’ve already talked about mixing up your rewards, but there are plenty of other cool ideas to try.

As an example, you could try training the basics of a dog sport like agility or obedience, or try some fun nose work games for your pup. Maybe you’d like to change up where you do your training, such as incorporating it into walks or when you visit the dog park.

The key is to keep it fresh and interesting for your pup so that they’re always eager for your next training session.

7. Get the whole family involved

Training your dog doesn’t have to be a solitary pursuit. In fact, unless you live alone, it’s a great idea to get all members of your household involved. 

Why? Well, then you’ll all be on the same page about what training commands and signals to use, which means you’ll be able to keep things consistent for your dog. Best of all, it’ll ensure that your dog gets a chance to bond with all of their human family, which is a good thing indeed.

8. It’s never too late to start

If anyone ever tries to tell you that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, don’t listen to them. The truth is that dogs can learn new skills at any age, so it’s never too late to start training your pooch. 

In fact, older dogs often tend to be a bit better behaved and calmer than their younger counterparts, so you may find your senior easier to train than a puppy. So if your older pooch has developed some bad habits, there’s no time like the present to start teaching them a better way to behave. 

9. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Training your dog is easier than you might think, but sometimes things don’t always go to plan. If your pup is a slow learner, or if there’s a problem behavior you just can’t seem to eliminate, there’s always plenty of places you can go to for help.

You might want to start by asking friends, family, and other pet parents at the dog park for their training tips. Maybe someone has dealt with a similar problem before, or knows someone who has. You’ll also find a huge database of training articles on our website, so there’s plenty of helpful advice right at your fingertips.

If socializing your pup is your aim, you can sign your pooch up for some group classes. If you need expert help, you can always find a dog trainer with Wag! in your local area — and your dog will become a perfectly polite pooch in no time.