Puppy playing during training on the carpet - Knose

Your Complete Training Guide for Dogs

Klarisse Galido - Editor in chief of Knose Pet Insurance

Curated by

Klarisse Galido

As the content curator of Knose, Klarisse is all about blending vet advice, practical pet tips, and stories from the pet-loving community. Her passion for pets brings to life the everyday joys and challenges of pet ownership.

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Bringing home a puppy or rescue dog can be one of the most exciting times in our lives. There is something so special about bringing them home and watching them as they explore it with you. There is so much for them to learn, but equally, we as their guardians have a lot to learn too. 

A lot of information is available to us when it comes to health, training, and behaviour, but it can be overwhelming and often not based on any research or science. To overcome this, I have come up with eight essential tips in this training guide for dogs that will help form a trusting relationship that will allow them to succeed in training. 

8 tips to help your dog or puppy succeed in training

1. When to train 

Start training your puppy or dog as soon as you bring them home. Don’t wait for puppy school or dog obedience class to start. Training guide for dogs are available online and are free. Remember, every interaction you have with them is a mutual learning opportunity. 

Find out what rewards your dog would like, what makes them feel safe or fearful, how do they like to play, or how they feel around other dogs. Your dog will tell you through their body language. 

From their nose right back to the tip of their tail, every part of a dog’s body is a tool to communicate. It is so important that we become fluent in their language, so that they feel they can trust and respect us.

2. What to train

Puppies are emotional sponges until they are about four months of age, which is a great time to get the most of this limited learning window. Older dogs are able to learn just as much, however they may have already formed judgments about certain things from their puppyhood. This may mean that training takes a little more time and flexibility. 

As a behaviourist, there are only four cues I really care about: Sit and stay, come, leave it, and look.

These are behaviours that are most important for a dog to learn, because they are cues that not only keep your dog safe, but they are cues that allow you to communicate clearly with them when it really counts. Remember, a lot of the time, your dog will volunteer these without being asked, so make sure you are in a position to reward them! 

3. Socialising 

Socialising is an invaluable skill for every dog, no matter what age. To do this properly however, this must be curated by the dog’s owner. You cannot simply follow a training guide for dogs step-by-step.

Socialise with dogs and puppies who are of the same interest and energy level. Calm older dogs are often a great start. Meeting on neutral ground is very important. As the dog’s advocate, it is important that we look for any signs of uncertainty from either dog to prevent unpleasant encounters. This is expressed in our dog’s body language and it is best to prevent a dog from being fearful, rather than waiting until they react to the fear. 

A puppy training indoors during winter - Knose
Setting a routine is the best way for a puppy to learn.

4. Routines 

Predictability is really important to dogs of all ages. This helps dogs figure out how the world works and how to fit into this world with you. Toilet training or potty training can be taught quickly as long as there is consistency in the environment the dog is in. They must be taken out hourly to the potty location, rewarded when eliminating, and never punished for having an accident inside. In other words, if you set them up to succeed, they will. 

Puppies may destroy items by chewing, which is very normal. Provide them with appropriate chew toys and interact with them during play to prevent them destroying items. Dogs let us know when they are feeling playful in their body language. If we offer our dogs options before they make their own choices, this can help avoid destructive behaviours. Older dogs may become destructive due to anxiety. This makes it important for us to identify if this is the case and alleviate the cause of anxiety promptly. 

5. Calming down 

Dogs may find it difficult to settle especially when they are unsure or overstimulated. This is where teaching your pup to settle on their bed can be very valuable. This can also be extended in other places such as a portable mat. 

Working in my field, I always find that helping a dog settle comes down to what environment we set them up in. This is why I rarely allow people to approach my dogs in public spaces. Instead, I cue them to their mat, give them something to chew on or sniff. This way, they know that nobody will bother or threaten them. Our dogs need to know we have their back. 

6. What collar to use 

I always prefer harnesses to collars. If a dog pulls hard enough, they can damage their neck and breathing tube, and even put strain on their chest with a collar. Harnesses do not teach a dog to pull, and are much more comfortable for them to wear. Teaching a dog not to pull on the lead all starts with training under low distraction. This might begin in your living room for a few days before extending it to the front or back yard. 

7. Vet Consultations 

Visiting the vet may be a scary experience for a dog but we can help them overcome this fear. You may keep your dog in the car instead of in the waiting room, employ a vet to visit the home, or make regular visits to the vet without actually having a consultation. It can help your dog desensitise them to the smells, sounds and sights of the clinical environment. Try handling your dog’s paws often, around their ears and even opening their mouth for yummy treats, to get them used to these sorts of invasive examinations in the future. 

8. Troubleshooting 

It is common for dog owners to observe concerning behaviours from their dog from time to time. I’ve recently hosted a live discussion about pet behaviours and why they shouldn’t be ignored. Many pet owners are confused as to translating and troubleshooting certain issues. My advice during these times is to answer the following questions: 

  • Is this a dog behaviour problem, or is it normal dog behaviour that just bothers me? 
  • Have I set my dog up to fail in this situation? How do I set them up to succeed to get the best from them? 
  • Is my dog physically in good health? Are they in pain? Are they ill? When was my last vet consultation? 
  • Am I being reasonable by expecting a certain behaviour from my dog? Or am I asking too much? 

To watch a replay of the discussion, you can watch it here.

Answering those questions encourages people to really think about their relationship with their dog. So for those who are reading this training guide for dogs, be patient. Sometimes changing our expectations and seeing the world from our puppy’s eyes can make a world of difference not just in their behaviour, but in our relationship with them. 

Post by Laura V © for Knose Pet Insurance 

Laura V is deeply dedicated to enhancing the lives of dogs beyond recognising their thoughts and feelings. Laura’s approach goes beyond traditional training. She integrates behavioural medicine, education, and psychology to foster long-lasting bonds between dogs and their owners. Her muse, Chester, has inspired her to live purposefully. Laura aims to share insights and guidance to help others provide the best care and companionship for their dogs.

For those who want to learn beyond the basics of owning and training a puppy, we have your back! Download our Puppy Handbook for more tips and expert advice on puppy knowledge.

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