Did your family recently bring home a new puppy or dog? Did you make a New Year’s resolution to teach your dog a few new tricks? Well, you’re in luck! January is National Train Your Dog Month. Since 2010, the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) has dedicated the month of January to promoting the importance of socialization and training dogs with everyday manners.

The thought of training your dog can be overwhelming, but there are so many benefits! Dog training can help establish a healthy relationship between owners and their furry friends. It improves the bond between owners and their pets, plus it can help eliminate behavioral issues like chewing, jumping, barking, and digging. And it’s fun! Training gives you the opportunity to spend more time with your dog while getting to know him better.

  1. Use your resources! Whether you plan to train your dog yourself or go to dog training classes, there are so many resources that can help. The ADPT offers a variety of free resources with tips and tricks for teaching your dog the basics like sit, down, wait, stay, coming when called, and walking on a leash. You can also find professional training courses in your area to help with training and socializing your dog.
  2. Be consistent. Consistency is key! Letting your puppy or dog get away with a certain behavior part of the time causes confusion. Make sure that all family members are on the same page about training. It’s best if you establish house rules from the beginning so that your dog knows what is off limits.
  3. Start with basic commands. Teaching your dog some basic commands can help ensure his safety. Some essential commands to start with include come, sit, stay, down, and leave it.
  4. Use positive reinforcement. We all like to be rewarded, and that includes our dogs! You can reward and encourage your dog’s good behavior with positive reinforcement, from toys and treats to affection and praise. It’s important to reward good behavior right away or your dog won’t associate the behavior with the treat. It’s also important to make sure you don’t reward behaviors that you don’t want him to continue. Instead, take rewards away or ignore unwanted behavior to discourage it from continuing.
  5. Tell or show your dog what to do. If you’re training a puppy, he has no idea what “no” means, which is why it’s important to tell or show him what to do. Instead of just saying “no” to a certain behavior, tell your dog what he should be doing. If your dog is on the couch, consistently say “down.” If he is jumping on guests, consistently say “sit” to encourage him to sit instead of jump.
  6. Keep it fun! Training your dog should be fun for both you and your dog. Keep the sessions short and positive, and be sure to take a break if you’re becoming frustrated or upset. Keep in mind that puppies have short attention spans. It may help to use a combination of physical and mental stimulation to help keep things interesting. And always try to end training on a positive note!
  7. Have patience. Training doesn’t happen overnight, although it would be nice if it was that quick and easy. In reality, training takes time, consistency, and a lot of patience.

Training your dog can be intimidating. It’s best to have realistic expectations and show your dog a lot of affection. Have fun and happy training!