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Everyone wants a well-behaved dog.
Feels like a pretty fair and true statement, right? Rarely though does a dog just magically become well behaved. Dogs need obedience training or puppy training if we're talking about a new pup. Some dogs need advanced dog training, but no matter what, every dog needs to start with basic obedience training. But where and how do you start?
Right here! Basic Manners on Dogly is an ever-growing resource guide for you and your dog to start working together in your own training sessions. We have 4 guides created for you and your dog through a collaboration of certified dog trainers all using positive reinforcement training. We'll take you through an overview of the 4 guides or you can go straight to the Basic Manners training here.
Why do basic manners matter in dog training?
Basic manners are the building blocks of obedience training. They lay the foundation for more complicated behaviors and can help prevent problem behaviors from developing in the future. Teaching your dog basic manners is one of the best things you can do for your relationship with your dog. If you don't have the basics, I promise any advanced training issues will be nearly impossible to work through down the road. Not to mention, dog training, in general, is a great way to have a stronger bond with your dog and give your pup the physical and mental stimulation every dog needs!
Here's an overview of the 4 guides from positive reinforcement certified dog trainers to help you train your dog in basic manners.
Basic Manners Guide 1: Focus on the good behavior when dog training
This seems simple but it's probably the most important and also one of the hardest things to teach ourselves as pet parents in dog obedience training. What this essentially means is reward the good behavior instead of punishing the bad when training your dog. It's giving your dog a tasty treat for all the right things he/she does instead of saying "no" for any not-so-right things.
Here are 5 dog training tips to practice this:
- In your training process, think about the behavior you want from your dog. When you know what you want from your dog, you can set up your training sessions so that behavior is the easiest choice for your dog to make.
- Train your dog with a clicker. The click marks the exact moment your dog did what you wanted and is the closest we can come to speaking their language (for now).
- Always reward your dog for good behavior when training. By rewarding good behavior your dog will want to keep doing it to get the treat or food from you.
- When training your dog, set him/her up to succeed. Just as you thought about the behavior you want to see from your dog, think about what you can do to help your dog be as successful as possible when trying to learn that behavior.
- Practice is how you get a well behaved dog. Obedience training isn't a one-and-done type of thing! But it doesn't have to happen in training classes - 15 minutes of home training every day will work wonders to help your training of common behaviors.
If you want to put this into practice, jump to the full guide here from positive reinforcement dog trainer, Tessa Fessenden-McKenzie.
Now that we have a base for our dog training, let's focus on learning one of the most useful manners skills in a range of situations, "touch."
Basic Manners Guide 2: Why & How to Teach Your Dog "Touch"
Teaching "touch" is one of the first behaviors certified trainers teach most dogs. That's because it's a versatile foundational behavior you can use to set up your dog for success in so many situations.
That's also why positive reinforcement trainer and Dogly Advocate Melissa Dallier created this guide so both you and your dog can add "touch" to your repertoire - or refresh your skill if you already know it.
What you'll learn:
What "touch" or hand targeting is
- At its essence, it's a simple behavior that teaches your dog to touch your hand with his or her nose, one of the basic cues in dog training to connect you and your dog.
What makes "touch" so widely useful in dog training
- Melissa shares some of the many uses of "touch": from teaching your dog to orient toward you and dependably pay attention to having a fast, reliable recall to using it as an alternative positive behavior if your dog is reactive around other dogs.
What you'll need to teach your dog "touch"
- It's the simplest of set-ups: a few minutes in a quiet space, a clicker or marker word (yes! or good!), some small, yummy treats (or soft, easily breakable-into-pieces treats) and a treat pouch to keep them handy.
- How to do it:
(You can also watch Melissa demonstrate step by step in the accompanying video.)
Here's a quick overview of the 5 steps to teach hand targeting aka "touch!"
- Present your flat, outstretched hand close to your dog's face. Click/mark & reward with a treat as soon as your dog moves toward your hand with his/her nose. You'll learn how many repetitions you should try in this first step along with troubleshooting tips.
- Begin to move your hand target to different positions once your dog is reliably nosing your hand in step 1. And of course, click/mark & treat and repeat several times.
- Now add the cue word "touch" immediately before presenting your hand. You'll learn what do if your dog doesn't respond with the word added.
- Add distance and movement. Once your dog is solid and reliable with step 3, you're ready to expand the behavior. You'll learn how to watch your dog's body language to gradually increase the distance successfully - and what to do when your dog isn't ready yet.
- Start over in a new environment (with distractions) once your dog is comfortable with step 4. You're upping the difficulty in this step so take it slowly with minor distractions. And be prepared to go back to step 1 if needed!
The guide includes all the nuances and troubleshooting for each step, so you'll want to follow along in the full guide here where you can also learn the steps visually as Melissa takes you through it with her dog.
Another behavior that is so worth it to take the time teaching your dog is the cue "drop it," up next...
Basic Manners Guide 3: How to Teach Your Dog to "Drop It," Even Food!
As pet owners, knowing how to teach our dogs to "drop it" is huge. That goes for chew toys, your dog's food bowl, your favorite shoe, or even food your dog shouldn't be eating. If you have a begging dog, you'll want to be especially good at this cue. "Drop it" is an important cue because it can help prevent your dog from getting into things they're not supposed to and can also help keep them safe (e.g., if they pick up something poisonous).
Here's an overview of the 7 simple steps to teach your dog the "drop it" cue. When you're ready to start training this behavior, go to the full guide here.
- Make the "drop it" cue a game. This will reinforce good behavior by creating positive associations every time you ask your dog to "drop it" rather than a negative association. Never punish or scold your dog. This could drive your pup to quickly learn to resource guard the special treat or food you're trying to get him or her to drop.
- Start training with low-value toys and treats. It's extremely helpful if you get to know which toys and treats are super interesting vs not to your dog. Use the not-so-interesting toys and treats as you start this training.
- Reward your dog with a higher value treat than what's being dropped. That makes sense right? If you're going to drop something, what I'm getting needs to be better than what I'm giving up.
- Replace the food lure with a cue word like "drop." I highly recommend jumping over to the full guide here for a better understanding of this and the next few tips.
- Whatever your dog dropped - give it back. Double win for your dog! Not only does your dog get a treat for dropping the item but your dog also gets it back afterward. Hello, positive reinforcement.
- As your dog gets comfortable with training this behavior, upgrade to higher-value items.
- Teach your dog good things happen when you "drop it." Your dog will remember every time he/she dropped it, there was a reward.
This is a fairly simple overview, so to properly train this behavior head over to the full guide here. You'll also see a word of warning on resource guarding in the full guide. If your dog is a resource guarder, get a certified positive reinforcement trainer involved before trying this yourself. We have lots of great trainers in the Advocate Community we would be happy to recommend.
Now that you have a reliable "drop it" cue with your dog, let's move on to how to teach your dog not to jump.
Basic Manners Guide 4: How to train your dog not to jump on people
Jumping is a super common behavior issue for most dogs. It's a behavior that's important to work on to keep your dog safe as well as the person he/she is jumping on. Force-free dog trainer and separation anxiety specialist, Melissa Dallier shared a video to help you teach your dog not to jump as well as 6 tips to follow while training your dog, and she troubleshoots some common behavior problems all here.
Here's a short overview of her 6 tips to teach your dog not to jump on people:
- Learn when your dog jumps. Being able to anticipate the jump and getting ahead of it is your best shot at putting an end to it.
- Understand why your dog jumps. Is it because they've missed you so much? Probably. Can we train your dog to channel that excitement into something other than a jump when you get home? Absolutely.
- Always use positive reinforcement in your training. Never punish your dog or new puppy by kneeing or pushing them away.
- Make sure the treats you are using match the difficulty of what you're asking your dog to do. In other words, pay your dog appropriately for their hard training work!
- Teach your dog the "touch" behavior and either a marker word like YES or solid association with a clicker.
- Train your dog to "go say hi" instead of jumping on you at the door. Melissa goes into a very detailed explanation of how to teach your dog this behavior. I highly recommend you check it out here.
And that's it! You and your dog have made it through all of the guides in Basic Manners on Dogly. Not only does your dog know some amazing new obedience cues but you've learned how to train those behaviors too. Well done!
Check out the Manners Channel on Dogly
If you want to keep training and learning with your dog, you can continue in the Manners Channel to Food Manners, Travel Manners, Public Manners or even Holiday Manners.
Enjoy the better bond you're building with your dog and if you need help, you can ask the Dogly Advocates in any channel or work with them one-on-one through Dogly.