Training Tuesday: Dog Training for Dummies

Seriously friends? It doesn’t have to be so hard…

I am all about sharing knowledge on the internet (obviously, or this blog would cease to exist). It is no secret that the world wide interwebz are an amazing gift given to our generations, where no piece of information or opinion is out of our reach. But it is also important to remember that not all of the information we come across is reputable or reliable.

With that being said, the companion animal industry (and yes, it is an industry, one that grossed over $53 BILLION last year alone, up from $28.5 billion in 2001) is one of the most lucrative and dynamic. According to the APPA National Pet Owners Survey, 68% of US households own at least one pet, which equates to 82.5 million homes. Because of this exponential growth, it is no surprise that many of these owners, plenty of whom are new to pet ownership, are turning to the internet as a resource for advice.

An interesting (yet depressing) study shared by Petfinder and directed by the National Council on Pet Population, showed that of the 4 million+ dogs surrendered to shelters in 2012, 96% had received NO obedience training. Of those, between 2-3 million will never make it out of the shelters alive. So statistically, we can reasonably assume that a large percentage of owners who surrender their dogs to shelters may do so because of training and behavior issues. If we make training so complex and nearly elitist, who are we really helping? Rather, if we make it straightforward and approachable and even (gasp!) fun, how many lives could be saved? Even if it’s just a handful, wouldn’t that be worth it?


So let’s stop it. As much as us dog-nerds enjoy delving into the nitty-gritty of animal behavior and the learning process, what purpose does that serve? Instead, let’s remember why we do what we do. Instead of approaching animal behavior as behaviorists or veterinarians or scientists or dog trainers (even if you are one of those!), let’s start approaching it as the average dog owner.

In honor of this approach, I am going to devote one day a week to talking about training tips in a fun, simple way! I am not a professional or certified dog trainer, and I don’t pretend to be. There are lots of amazing blogs and websites out there written by brilliant dog trainers and animal behavior experts that cover those bases… but I believe that some of them leave a lot to be desired in terms of approachability and usability. I have developed (and will continue to!) some tools in my experiences as an owner, dog sitter, and foster, and why shouldn’t I share that with all of you?


So stay-tuned for Training Tuesdays!

10 thoughts on “Training Tuesday: Dog Training for Dummies

  1. And just in the nick of time! We have recently started fostering dogs, and although our rescue agency gives us access to their volunteer trainers and behaviourists, it would definitely be an added bonus to hear your take on things. I’ve only recently discovered your blogs through the Foster Mamas facebook page, and I really enjoy your perspective. Our current foster is a 2 year old Shepherd-Rotti cross, who hasn’t yet been taught that there are play boundaries (he can sometimes get a little rough when he gets excited), or that he doesn’t have to guard high-value treats (like leftover people food). We’re working with him on these (and other) issues, but would sure like to hear any advice you have to give.

  2. YAY! We love getting ideas for training. We’ve done tons of classes with both the pooches, but know that training is an on-going commitment. But is it just us, or does doing repetitions of down-stays get super boring! So, we’re all about new training ideas – especially if they are fun “games”!!

    I agree, while I do really like reading about the philosophy behind the training techniques, sometimes you just want to know how to do it. And some techniques are actually really fun to do, and help with focus (which is what SO many high-energy shelter dogs need), that owners might actually be excited to work with their pooch!

  3. can’t wait for next tuesday:) you are correct when you say the biggest reason dogs are given up is behavioral issues. i’ve trained tons of dogs and it’s still frustrating to me sometimes…so how could it not get frustrating and tedious to a first time owner? Of course it’s easier to just give up and get rid of the dog! In the end with patience and effort you can have the dog everyone wishes they had! I’m so excited to read you fun tips:)

  4. I’m really looking forward to hearing “real” training tips. Having my first dog is a bit intimidating. There’s no option for me where I don’t train my dog. Our guy is good as gold, but I know I can always do better. I really appreciate you being open to sharing your advice.

      • Our guy is pretty low energy, so sometimes it’s about keeping him interested in training. We’ve taught him “crawl” for example, but he’ll only do a couple of repetitions before he decides he doesn’t care anymore. I fully admit that it also could be a case of my not communicating clearly, although I’m not sure exactly how. Feel free to take a look at this blog post and critique my technique:

        Food is only so motivating, and toys are not interesting at all. That makes training basics like “come” somewhat challenging. As much as he loves us, sometimes it just takes too much energy to move from where he is to where we are. We’ve been working on emergency recall with hotdogs (and that’s the command we use too), and it seems to be going pretty well, although I’d love some tips about building recall. So far we’ve kept it in the house because he’s easily distracted outside.

        Some tips about managing chase drive (squirrels, cats, rabbits) would be helpful. He yanked the leash out of my hand one morning to tear of in pursuit of something, which is a very scary situation that I’d prefer not to repeat.

      • I think that a ‘look’ or ‘touch’ command would come in really handy to help you in a variety of these situations. It is a very simple, straightforward command that dogs pick up quickly and are typically very willing to offer due to its simplicity. It reminds the dog to focus on you and helps to build your relationship! Lots of online resources should be able to assist you with this, but please feel FREE to email me if you’d like more info!

  5. Pingback: Blinded by Love | And Foster Makes Five

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