A dog learns from interactions it has with its environment.[1] This can be through classical conditioning, where it forms an association between two stimuli; non-associative learning, where its behavior is modified through habituation or sensitisation; and operant conditioning, where it forms an association between an antecedent and its consequence.[2]
Great article, Kimberly. Thanks so much. I’ve been looking for info on no food training. I’ve had 5 dogs over the past 20 years, all rescues, all adults. The only one who has been food motivated is the one we got as a young puppy. I started training her right away w/ treats, which worked great for a couple months but I’ve noticed her responsiveness is decreasing as I decrease the use of treats w/ training (and we do a ton of training- adv obedience, tricks, agility and find it) so I’ve been looking for guidance on how to make the transition go more smoothly. Thanks again. Great info! Sally looks like a happy well loved dog.
Amy grew up in England and in the early 1990's moved to North Carolina where she completed a bachelors degree in Psychology in 2001. Amy's personal interest in writing was sparked by her love of reading fiction and her creative writing hobby. Amy is currently self employed as a freelance writer and web designer. When she is not working Amy can be found curled up with a good book and her black Labrador, Jet.
Hi Caitlin, Kimberly recently had a baby and thus, is not currently responding to comments, but I wanted to thank you. We read through your thoughts and agree with many of them. So, we made some minor updates to our content based on your feedback and agree that this makes for a much stronger and more encouraging article. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts so we could make our content even better for our readers.

The trick is to get the dog to do the focus command ("look at me", or its name), and then give the command "sit" and reward that command. If the dog jumps on you do not give it a place to land, and reinforce that focus, and sit command. If the dog is overly hyper, probably you should do that, but also add in some structured exercise (fetch or go for a jog or run). See further: How to Stop a Dog from Jumping.
Puppies should be at least eight weeks old before they’re taken away from their mothers and littermates for weaning. The first eight weeks of a puppy’s life are a crucial time for him to learn social skills. Playing with littermates, wrestling with Mom and enjoying life with their own pack helps dogs understand how other dogs communicate and interact.
In addition to your graduated absences exercises, all greetings (hellos and goodbyes) should be conducted in a very calm manner. When saying goodbye, just give your dog a pat on the head, say goodbye and leave. Similarly, when arriving home, say hello to your dog and then don’t pay any more attention to him until he’s calm and relaxed. The amount of time it takes for your dog to relax once you’ve returned home will depend on his level of anxiety and individual temperament. To decrease your dog’s excitement level when you come home, it might help to distract him by asking him to perform some simple behaviors that he’s already learned, such as sit, down or shake.
Researchers have described several reasons why the dominance model is a poor choice for dog training.[71] First, a relationship based on dominance is established to gain priority access to scarce resources, not to impose particular behaviors on the less dominant animal,[72] so the dominance model is irrelevant for most of the behaviors that people want from their dogs, such as coming when called or walking calmly on a leash.[71] Second dominance-submission relationships, once established, are constantly tested and must be regularly reinforced.[73] Thus people, particularly children and the elderly, may not be able to retain their rank and are at risk of being injured if they attempt to do so.[71] Third, dominant individuals gain priority access to resources, but only while they are present, establishing dominance over a dog does not guarantee its behavior when the dominant individual is distant or absent.[71]
Dog intelligence is exhibited in many different ways, and a dog that might not be easy to train might nonetheless be quite adept at figuring out how to open kitchen cabinets or to escape from the yard. Novice dog owners need to consider a dog's trainability as well as its energy level, exercise requirements, and other factors before choosing a new pet. Very high intelligence is not necessarily a good thing in a companion dog, as smart dogs can require extensive daily mental stimulation if they are not to become bored and destructive.
Another update on our senior German Shepherd: Our precious girl, Buca, has been on generic Prozac for anxiety and canine cognitive dysfunction for a little over 9 months now. It has really helped! She is now 11-1/2, and at some point the vet cut her prozac down to 20 mg. a day. We also give her a glucosamine for arthritis daily. She still suffers anxiety with bells and buzzers on the television – definitely prefers us to have the TV off! – and during storms her anxiety is heightened, but other than that she is more or less the same sweet girl she has always been, and we are so grateful that we pursued the medication, and did not look into putting her down. I know she is toward the end of her life span, but she still seems to be enjoying the quality of her life for the most part, and we continue to look at every day with her as a gift. Ironically, she had been terrified of the vacuum cleaner ever since she was a pup. That was, in fact, the only anxiety she ever displayed throughout most of her life. Now, I can vacuum all I want, and she just lays there calmly! I usually have to ask her to move!!!
Konrad Lorenz, an Austrian scientist who is regarded as developing the foundations of ethological research,[14] further popularised animal behaviorism with his books, Man Meets Dog and King Solomon's Ring.[15] Lorenz stated that there were three essential commands to teach a dog: "lie down" (stay where you are), "basket" (go over there) and "heel" (come with me).[16]
My only success has been through isolation. Immediately upon biting, I put her in her crate, which has a doggy door to escape to the outside, for 5 to ten minutes and sometimes longer. It took over a week for her to be lonely enough to not immediately bite me upon release. We had two great days where she was so good, I took her to a friends for dinner without incident. I got rid of the crate because I do not want that thing looming in the background so she’d only be obeying to avoid jail. I woke up one morning and she was sleeping by me with her head on my shoulder. It was wonderful. Then, today, she relapsed and is sitting in her cell or outside again. I hate it. I’m missing her puppy months and I feel like she thinks I don’t want her around. So much wasted time. This breed is supposed to consist of people pleasers. My last dog was a golden and was an angel. Please help before my feelings for her mirror hers for me.
For example, before you ever teach your dog the "sit" command, give the click sound, a treat, and praise when you find him sitting. When he begins sitting just to get the treats, start saying the word "sit" to get him into position. Pair it with the click sound to reward him. Eventually, he will learn that sitting in response to the "sit" command will earn him a click reward.

Regardless of the age of your dog, obedience classes could be a good way for you to teach your dog obedience. These types of classes are offered at multiple locations and are often offered in veterinary clinics. These classes involve a single teacher who works with a group of dog owners and their dogs in teaching obedience. These classes are group oriented much like children’s classrooms. Owners are taught obedience commands and how to encourage their dogs to obey. One at a time after being practiced, each owner will exhibit their dog’s ability to perform the task at hand.
Try again! Find a tasty treat he loves and make him earn it as a reward. Work on one command at a time ("Sit" is a good one to start with) in a room without distractions. Use the treat to lure him into a sit, and, once his butt hits the ground, say "Sit" and give the treat. Train every time you remember you have a dog. Keep a pouch of treats on you, and train him a little bit at a time, but frequently, all day, every day. As he gets the hang of things, take his training outdoors where there are distractions, and persevere in the same way.
Dogs have become closely associated with humans through domestication and have also become sensitive to human communicative signals. Generally, they have a lot of exposure to human speech, especially during play, and are believed to have a good ability to recognize human speech. Two studies investigated the ability of a single dog that was believed to be exceptional in its understanding of language. Both studies revealed the potential for at least some dogs to develop an understanding of a large number of simple commands on the basis of just the sounds emitted by their owners. However the studies suggested that visual cues from the owner may be important for the understanding of more complex spoken commands.[77]
 I started Take the Lead with the goal of creating harmonious relationships between humans and dogs.  Dogs have a language all of their own and my goal is to help owners bridge the gap in communication.  The first step to strengthening our relationship with our dogs is understanding what they are telling us, but most importantly what we REALLY have been saying to them.   Dogs can be such a joy in our lives, but they can also be an equal nightmare!  I know it's not a lack of trying when it comes to families trying to improve their dog's behavior, in the end it's just missed communication of expectations between human and dog! The good news is, with the right training it doesn't have to be like that forever!
Thank you for pointing out that my pet has limits and that there are things that a younger dog will not be able to pick up on as compared to an older dog. I do not know the age of which I can tell it is perfect for my pet to learn new things. I do not want to force him if he isn’t ready either. Because of this, it might be a better idea to let the professional train him. At least, that way, he is sure to receive the training appropriate for his age.

When your dog is relaxed, you can see it in his face. His eyes will be soft and rounded or possibly slightly squinted. The coloring of his eyes will be easily seen. He will hold his ears semierect and forward (unless he has floppy ears). When he interacts with a person, his ears may go back slightly, in a polite social gesture. His mouth will be relaxed — in fact, it may look like he’s smiling.
First and foremost, the best thing you can do is consult your veterinarian. Your dog may or may not need medical help, but the safest thing to do is take him/her to the vet and see. If there is a need for medicine, it can take a couple weeks for the medicine to take effect. Ultimately, it is up to you to modify behaviors to get them to relax and not react to environmental situations.
In recent years, a new form of Obedience competition, known as Rally Obedience, has become very popular. It was originally devised by Charles L. "Bud" Kramer from the obedience practice of "doodling" - doing a variety of interesting warmup and freestyle exercises. Rally Obedience is designed to be a "bridge", or intermediate step, between the CGC certification and traditional Obedience competition.

THERAPY DOG DEVELOPMENT: $950 – If your goal is to have a Certified Therapy Dog, this is the program for you! We provide the required training to prepare your dog for therapy testing/certification. This program includes training equipment and 8 private lessons. The first 4 lessons will cover our Basic Obedience curriculum, and the last 4 lessons will specifically target therapy testing scenarios. ***Be prepared to practice daily for at least 30 minutes and schedule lessons 1 week apart.***
With the approval of your veterinarian, you can give your dog anxiety medication to help ease his anxiety. Benadryl is commonly prescribed to help alleviate symptoms of anxiety in dogs.  The antihistamine is known to serve as a mild sedative. When administered correctly prior to the environment or activity that may cause heightened anxiety in your pet, it can help him remain calm and relaxed.
In the beginning, I only let him meet with calm people that I know will result in a successful greeting. I also coach people on how to meet him. Often, fearful dogs show aggression because they feel threatened and cornered, and think there are no other alternatives available to them. I make sure I do not put any of my dogs in this type of situation.
You can also lure a down from a sit or stand by holding a treat in your hand to the dog’s nose and slowly bringing it to the floor. Give the treat when the dog’s elbows touch the floor to start. After a few practices, begin bringing your empty hand to the floor and giving the treat AFTER he lies down. When he can reliably follow your hand signal, begin saying “down” as you move your hand.
Let your new dog gradually earn freedom throughout your home. A common error that many pet parents make is giving their new dog too much freedom too soon. This can easily lead to accidents relating to housetraining and destructive chewing. So, close off doors to unoccupied rooms and use baby gates to section off parts of the house, if necessary. One of the best ways to minimize incidents is to keep your dog tethered to you in the house and by using a crate or doggie safe area when you can’t actively supervise him.
Imagine your puppy running out the front door. You call him, waving a treat. But he'd rather chase a squirrel into the road than come back to munch on a treat. In addition to the obvious danger of Puppy getting hit by a car, he learns that he doesn't have to listen to you. He learns that he's in charge of what he decides to do and what he decides not to do.
Your hub is so informative. We had a dog for 17 years, 13 of which were filled with major separation & noise anxiety. It’s a tough situation to deal with because she would do anything she could to get out of the house/yard if we left her including digging, jumping fences, etc… Everything we tried, including bringing her with us, didn’t work because she would be so stressed. The only thing we found to help her was an herbal remedy called Aconitum Napellus. We bought it at Whole Foods and it made a significant difference. She’s in heaven now after a long life but the thunder jacket you wrote about looks like something we would have tried.
Sally eventually got the hang of it all and she is attached to me 24/7. I have a 4 month old son and if I go to his room to feed him she instantly follows. If I get up from the couch to use the bathroom, she follows. If I go to the bathroom to brush my teeth, she follows. She is almost always within 5 feet of me, so I know she is behaving and looking to me for direction.
i have a 4 year old dachshound. i think she has anxiety. if she’s in my room with the door is closed.she does this scratching at the carpet. and tries to dig a hole into the floor. and she’s doing this whinning thing too. i live with my mother and she has 2 cats. sometimes they play, but at night time she sneaks out of the room to rip open a trash bag and starts fights with the cats. and i don’t usually have a ride to take her to the vets. is there anything i can do. before i go completely nuts with her.
Before you try to teach your dog to protect a child, you need to take the time to make sure he is fully obedience trained and well-socialized. This means taking the time to take your dog out in a wide range of environments where he will encounter lots of people, objects, other animals, sounds, and sights. You need to know that no matter what distractions you are around, your dog will obey your commands. He needs to know you are in charge.

If your dog is less anxious before you leave, you can probably skip the predeparture treatment above and start with very short departures. The main rule is to plan your absences to be shorter than the time it takes for your dog to become upset. To get started, train your dog to perform out-of-sight stays by an inside door in the home, such as the bathroom. You can teach your dog to sit or down and stay while you go to the other side of the bathroom door. (You can also contact a Certified Professional Dog Trainer for assistance. Please see our article, Finding Professional Behavior Help, to locate a CPDT in your area.) Gradually increase the length of time you wait on the other side of the door, out of your dog’s sight. You can also work on getting your dog used to predeparture cues as you practice the stay. For example, ask your dog to stay. Then put on your coat, pick up your purse and go into the bathroom while your dog continues to stay.
In this guide, you will learn everything you need to know about the signs and symptoms of anxiety in dogs. With a little guidance, you will be able to tell if your dog is feeling stressed and learn ways to help them overcome it. By avoiding triggers and training them to react differently, you will be able to reduce their anxiety and exterminate those bad behaviors.
An anti-anxiety drug is designed to be given once a day and to keep your dog calm overall. It is not designed to be given at a particular time when your dog becomes overly anxious or excited. The best thing to do at such times is to speak calmly to your dog in a reassuring but firm voice. Keep your hand on your dog, providing your dog does not become aggressive. Some dogs may become aggressive and try to bite. If possible, remove the dog from the anxiety-provoking situation. Above all, remain calm yourself, because your dog will take cues from your behavior.
In addition to Benadryl and homeopathic treatments, your veterinarian may recommend a prescription drug for your dog’s anxiety. Most of these anti-anxiety drugs can be administered orally and are best suited for your pet prior to the anxiety-inducing situation. Because anxiety medication typically takes at least 30 minutes before they start working, it’s best to give it to your dog ahead of time rather than waiting until they present symptoms.
As a pet parent, you need to act when your dog is suffering from anxiety. Avoid punishing or scolding your dog when it is having an attack. You should also avoid praising or patting because that may lead your dog to believe that you are encouraging its anxious behavior. The first step is to identify the stimulus that’s causing the reaction. Controlled exposure to the stimulus and giving rewards for positive behavior is a popular way of desensitizing the dog. It’s also advisable to seek help from a canine behavioral expert. If the problem persists, consult a vet. There are more than a few anti-anxiety medication and nutritional supplements that can help control the problem.
The most common form of anxiety is separation anxiety in dogs, which can occur when a dog is left alone for any period of time. Separation anxiety occurs when a dog or puppy develops a phobia from being left alone. Dogs suffering from this condition may develop behavioral issues and severe stress. Often, dogs who have been adopted from a kennel have either lost a loved one or have been previously mistreated, which has caused separation anxiety to surface later on when they’re older.
In the last 6 months I would say she has “calmed down”, but we feel it’s due to her getting more used to us and her new home (she was a stray and had a couple foster homes before we got her). She still has lots of energy when we go for walks and to the park. She likes to be in the backyard (even in the evenings) and goes for a walk just fine (in the mornings only). It seems to be she only likes going for walks in the morning, and we used to go 3 times a day (morning, afternoon and evening). The only thing I can think of that would have frightened her on a walk is a few times storms have rolled in (usually a thunderstorm). When there is a thunderstorm she gets anxious, paces, pants and usually hides in the bathroom where she seems to calm down after a while. She loves the dog park and plays well with all the dogs she comes into contact with, and LOVES people. We’re really good about keeping her schedule the same, eats at the same times everyday, walks at the same time ect. We live in a new neighbourhood so there are trucks (all kinds) driving around all day. That would be the only noises I could think of.
Rehabilitation begins by having your dog know what is expected of him. You and other members of your family are the pack leaders, and you need to be recognized as such, not as dictators, but as leaders. For example, if your dog comes up to you and nudges your hand, or slaps you with his paw. You think this is cute and he is petted. This becomes a habit, and now your dog thinks “I am in control and I can tell you what to do.” Then, when he cannot carry it out, he becomes stressed.
It really starts the moment you get your puppy. All too often a puppy taken from the litter begins to cry when left alone. This is a big change for the pup, they no longer have the pack they were born with. When he cries, we go and pick him up and show sympathy—his crying is rewarded. Later, if he is crying in a crate, and you let him out he is being rewarded for his crying. Only reward desired behavior.

An anti-anxiety drug is designed to be given once a day and to keep your dog calm overall. It is not designed to be given at a particular time when your dog becomes overly anxious or excited. The best thing to do at such times is to speak calmly to your dog in a reassuring but firm voice. Keep your hand on your dog, providing your dog does not become aggressive. Some dogs may become aggressive and try to bite. If possible, remove the dog from the anxiety-provoking situation. Above all, remain calm yourself, because your dog will take cues from your behavior.
There are a variety of established methods of animals training, each with its adherents and critics. Some of the better known dog training procedures include the Koehler method, clicker training, motivational training, electronic training, model-rival training, dominance-based training, and relationship-based training. The common characteristics of successful methods are knowing the animal's attributes and personality, accurate timing of reinforcement and/or punishment and consistent communication. The use of punishment is controversial with both the humaneness and effectiveness questioned by many behaviourists.
Most can agree that they are probably as many methods for training dogs as there are dog owners. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Training a dog is very crucial to their overall development and it will make them much better-rounded. But remember that training a dog isn’t going to happen overnight. To achieve the desirable traits that you’re searching for, you’ll need to persist. Let’s take a look at the top 10 ways to train your dog.

The clicker is a small hand-held device that makes a distinct, short sound to mark a desired behavior. (See clicker training for a more detailed discussion of this methodology.) It has gained popularity in recent years as being a means of training that does not involve physically correcting the dog, though it may be used in conjunction with these methods.

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Unless you plan to keep your dog outdoors--and few of us do because it's not recommended--you'll need to teach your dog where to eliminate. Therefore, house training (also called housebreaking or potty training) is one of the first things you need to work on with your dog. Crate training can be a very helpful part of the training process. This includes house training as well as many other areas of training:
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