Train Your Dog

What you need to know before starting dog training

As a dog owner it is important to know some of the basic factors that underpin a relationship with your dog. Understanding these can go a long way towards training them effectively.

The first fundamental step is to have a loving, but respectful, bond with your dog. This bond will not only help you to understand the dog’s needs, but appreciate their natural instincts. It also helps your dog to have trust and confidence in you. You will need this in order to train your dog.


Form a Bond to Train your Dog

Let’s see how all this works…

Creating a healthy bond with your dog

Developing a bond with your dog is perhaps the single most important step towards successful training. There will always be an initial “bedding in” for a dog coming into your home. They will need to establish in their own mind where they fit into the family and what their place is in the home.

Bonding with your Dog

Like any dog training, you will need to show patience and understanding while this “settling” occurs. Once a dog is secure in the knowledge they belong, they are more likely to respond well to training – listening and being more responsive to their owner’s instructions. There needs to be an element of mutual trust.

The point I’m making here, is there is a balance to be struck – a dog will need at least a few days to settle in before any training starts (some may need longer to feel comfortable) and equally so, you shouldn’t leave it so long that a dog is allowed to develop their own bad habits. These habits will only be harder to train your dog back out of, if left for a long time.

Trust takes time to develop and respect comes from defining boundaries and treating any breach of those boundaries with firmness and fairness. Just like with children, dogs like to know what their boundaries are, so you need to be prepared to enforce them along the way.

4 Golden Rules To Building A Relationship With Your Dog :

  1. Make sure you spend enough quality time together
  2. Go out and about together, experiencing what the outside world has to offer (If you have a puppy, please make sure they are old enough and vaccinated appropriately before going out)
  3. Work on establishing and developing mutual respect
  4. Be aware of your dog’s body language and how they communicate with you

Having a good bond with your dog will not only help you manage him/her more easily, but your dog is more inclined to be a well adjusted pet.

“Love Your Dog and He Will Love You back”

if you spend time on these fundamental aspects first, your will find training your dog a lot easier and quicker!

So how does a dog learn?

There are 5 stages of learning that your dog will go through during his/her education:

Training your Dog1. The Teaching Phase

During this phase you will need to physically show and demonstrate your dog exactly what you want them to do. It may take a few demonstrations for them to get it, but if you’re patient and consistent, they will get there!

2. The Practicing Phase

Once they have got it, keep practicing with them. It is this reinforcement which will help them master the action.

3. The Generalizing Phase

An extension of the practicing phase, this is all about changing small elements like the location, but working on keeping the behavior the same. For example, during a walk take your dog to a different location and give them your usual command and see how they react.

This further reinforces their training and helps towards making it second nature. We are working on making it an automatic response, that your dog will remember for all occasions.

4. The Testing Phase

When you feel your dog reacts correctly about 90% of the time, try upping the level of distractions – for example, in places where there are more people and/or other dogs.

The idea is to keep testing your dog to see how he responds in new situations. This is a measure of whether the training is now “ingrained” in your dog, and is something you can rely on in almost all cases.

In any new situation, there are only 2 outcomes:
  • Your Dog succeeds!!! (Trumpets please!)
  • If your dog doesn’t respond as you expect, be consistent and keep on with the command until they respond correctly. Again, this might take practice in a new situation, but with perseverance they will understand what you want of them.

Keep on testing until you dog is almost perfect, always using the 3 P’s –

Patience, Persistence, Praise.

Dog Agility Training

5. Internalizing Phase

Over time, your dog may “internalize” the training, adopting it as a behavior without you having to issue any command.

Please Remember:

  • Never scold your dog if he/she fails. It’s not their fault, and it means you have failed as a trainer!
  • You must be patient and persistent with your efforts to show rewards.
  • Appreciate and love your dog when he/she does get it right! A little encouragement will go a long way!
  • Dog Training is easy when done in the right way.


If you have any questions or would like to share your own experiences, please do so below. 🙂

12 thoughts on “Train Your Dog

  1. haha this page made me smile, dogs are so stupid and loving it warms my heart lol. My dog deffo needs to be trained but i think it’s too late now? He’s 11 and still drags us to the woods for his walk and tries to scrap with other dogs lol. Full of life and he’s getting old, even got grey hairs now!


    1. Hi Kyle,

      This sounds so like our German Shepherd – at 11 he was still pulling us to the woods as well. It’s never too late to start if you want to consider formal training. What I would say though, is it requires more patience and perseverance with most older dogs.Bet he looks very distinguished with his grey hairs!

      Mara 🙂

  2. Hi Mara,
    Thank you for your very informative article. I have always had rescue dogs and I had no trouble training them. That is, until little Duncan! He is so sweet until other people enter the house or room and then he goes into protective mode. I sometimes worry that he actually would bite someone. I have to keep him on a harness for the first hour or so when anyone new is around and he is all of 6 pounds! Then whenever they get up or move around, he barks at them rather viciously.

    After reading your article, I think I need to spend more time #4, the testing phase. What are your thoughts? Did I mention he is a little Chihuahua?

    This is a beautiful site and I will be going through all of it and taking advantage of the information and products. And I will pass it on for sure.

    Lynn Drew

    1. Hi Lynn,
      This is an interesting one for such a little guy – maybe he has “small dog” syndrome! It’s possible that because he is so grateful and loyal to you for giving him a nice home, that he feels super protective of you when anyone else enters the house. I definitely think you should spend some dedicated time on the testing phase and try getting just one person to come over for a start, as opposed to a group of people. Ask them not to react to him at all until he is settled, so he doesn’t interpret any human behavior as a threat. You might want to look at How to stop a dog from barking and use this technique in conjunction with your other training. This might help him to realize that he doesn’t need to vocalize when you have visitors. Keep me posted, I would be interested to hear your progress with little Duncan.
      All the best, Mara

  3. Hi Mara,

    what a great article. you have reminded me about going back to basics with my own pack. Sometimes life can get so hectic that I forget to just relax and ensure I am giving the right direction and focus to my dogs. Your training tips are really easy to follow so will be sure to update you on how I go. 3 out of 5 of my pack are what I would say as trained. So need to get to work on the other 2.

    thanks for a great article


    1. Hi there,

      Thanks for leaving a comment and I’m glad you liked the training article. I know what you mean about life being hectic, and it is a good idea just to “stop and smell the roses” every now and again. You must have a busy household with 5 dogs, but we wouldn’t be without them and I bet you all have lots of fun times. Please do update me on how you get on, particularly with the 2 you class as “untrained” – did you take a look at the free training mini-book? There may be more helpful tips there is you need them.

      I would love to hear how you are getting on and if there’s anything I can help with, please get in touch anytime.

      Mara 🙂

  4. Hidy Mara,
    I have just learned a few things that I wish I had known before. I have 3 out of 8 of my dogs somewhat trained. I feel part of my problem is having too many animals to show them the attention that they deserve.
    Anyhow thanks for the information, it will come in handy with the next one.
    Keep up the good work,
    Hillbilly Vapor

    1. Hi there,
      Thanks for visiting my site and boy, you must be really busy with 8 dogs! Hopefully some of the good habits you are instilling in the 3 dogs, will rub off on the other 5…or maybe that’s wishful thinking. Anyway, it sounds like you have a really fun household and I’m sure they really enjoy being part of a big doggie family. Hope you stop by again in the future,

  5. Great article and tips! What do you do when all members of the household are not on board with training. Or when relatives come over and despite being asked not too feed table scraps, put the dog on the couch and otherwise completely undermine your training. Obviously they have been asked to respect our choices but they just don’t get it.

    1. Hi there,

      That’s a really difficult one – it’s really up to you how far you want to take it. If you all have to be inside together, then I think it’s quite reasonable to say they are undoing all your hard work with your training. If it was me, I would say to the relatives they can’t come over unless they listen to your house rules with the dog. I do totally get it – it’s fun to have a dog around, and what canine doesn’t like being fed table scraps given half the chance! For your own family, it’s much trickier! You don’t want the dog to suffer by a forced separation from the family, as it’s not his/her fault. The only advice I can give is keep persevering 🙂


  6. I live with several dogs. I love them and they love me back, but the truth nobody, including myself, is that disciplined in my household.

    The cats and dogs run the show here and it ain’t pretty. I’d describe my home as sort of commune of laid back hippie critters. It works for us, but if I could start over, I would have trained the guys before things got so out of hand.

    1. Thanks for stopping by. Your house sounds like a lot of fun and if it works for you all then that’s great. Best wishes to you and your critters,


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