Over time, the words “good dog” and the affectionate pat become secondary reinforcers. Because they have been paired with food in the past, they take on more meaning and become reinforcement in themselves. It is important to use secondary reinforcement because you will not always have food with you when you need your pet to obey. In addition, if you rely on food to get your puppy to comply, you will have a puppy that will only do the task when you have a treat.
Teach him to come when called. Come Jasper! Good boy! Teaching him to come is the command to be mastered first and foremost. And since he'll be coming to you, your alpha status will be reinforced. Get on his level and tell him to come using his name. When he does, make a big deal using positive reinforcement. Then try it when he's busy with something interesting. You'll really see the benefits of perfecting this command early as he gets older.
Note – Pressure wraps will not work on all dogs. Some dogs may get even more anxious, when they experience continuous pressure on their body. In addition, it is unlikely that pressure wraps can fully solve our dog’s anxiety issues. Wraps and other calming equipment, are commonly used together with desensitization and other dog behavior modification techniques, to achieve true long-term success.
It’s easy to reward good behavior if you focus on teaching your dog to do specific things you like. Dogs can learn an impressive array of obedience skills and entertaining tricks. Deciding what you’d like your dog to learn will depend on your interests and lifestyle. If you want your dog to behave politely, you can focus on skills like sit, down, wait at doors, leave it, come when called and stay. If you want to enhance your enjoyment of outings with your dog, you can train her to walk politely on leash, without pulling. If you have a high-energy dog and would like outlets for her exuberance, you can teach her how to play fetch, play tug-of-war or participate in dog sports, such as agility, rally obedience, freestyle and flyball. If you’d like to impress your friends or just spend some quality time with your dog, you can take her to clicker training or trick-training classes. The possibilities are endless! Please see the following articles to find out more about what you and your dog can learn to do together: Teaching Your Dog Not to Jump Up on People, Teaching Your Dog to Come When Called, Teaching Your Dog Not to Pull on Leash, Teaching Your Dog to Play Tug-of-War, and Teaching Your Dog to Play Fetch.
Moving to a new environment can be very stressful for a dog. After I moved, I quickly set up a fixed routine and schedule for my dog. I also set up a consistent set of rules and increased my level of supervision. I took my dog out for longer hikes in quiet and relaxing trails, so that he can have fun and chill out (only if the issue is stress based).
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.

Once your dog has been diagnosed with anxiety, you can work on figuring out how to solve this issue and get them back to living a normal, relaxed life. Depending on the severity of the issue, the vet may prescribe medication or come up with a specific treatment plan to make your dog feel more comfortable. Anti-anxiety medication may be prescribed, however, this is usually in the last case scenario.
One thing that is very important with desensitization exercises is that during the retraining process, it is important not to expose our dog to large doses of the fear stimulus. The key with desensitization is to start small, and only very slowly increase the strength of the stimulus. In this way, our dog is able to stay calm, learn from the experience, and can slowly rebuild confidence.
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!!!
The idea of using treats to train is often equated with bribery. Truthfully, dogs do what works. If using treats gets them to do what you want, then why not? You can also use the world around you as a reinforcement. Every interaction you have with your dog is a learning opportunity, so when you think about it, you probably don’t use food very often except during active training sessions. So why does your dog continue to hang out? Because you reinforce him with praise, touch, games and walks. Just remember, the behavior should produce the treat; the treat should not produce the behavior.
Are you thinking of adding a new dog to your life? Would you like your current dog to be better behaved? Would you like to train your dog to serve your needs instead being trained to serve its needs? Attending dog classes led by a professional trainer is the best approach, but not everyone can afford classes. These tips are a good start to training your canine companion. There are many philosophies and approaches to dog training, so do your research and learn what works for you and your dog.[1] Regardless on which approach to training your dog you take, building a good relationship with your dog is essential to being able to train effectively.
Non-associative learning is a change in a response to a stimulus that does not involve associating the presented stimulus with another stimulus or event such as reward or punishment.[46] Habituation is non-associative learning. An example is where a dog that reacts excitedly to a door bell is subjected to repeated ringing without accompanying visitors, and stops reacting to the meaningless stimuli. It becomes habituated to the noise.[47] On the other side of habituation is sensitization. Some dogs' reactions to the stimuli become stronger instead of them habituating to the repeated stimuli or event.[48] Desensitization is the process of pairing positive experiences with an object, person, or situation that causes fear or anxiety.[49] Consistent exposure to the feared object in conjunction with rewards allows the animal to become less stressed, thereby becoming desensitized in the process. This type of training can be effective for dogs who are fearful of fireworks.[50]
Before you begin dog obedience training, choose the best method for you and your dog. Training styles vary, but most trainers agree that dogs respond best to positive reinforcement, such as praise or treats. One common training variation, known as clicker training, includes the use of conditioned reinforcer. There are plenty of dog training books and websites where you can learn about training techniques and determine which best suits you and your dog. When planning out your training methods, don't forget about socialization.

Also, please note that because of volume, we are unable to respond to individual comments, although we do watch them in order to learn what issues and questions are most common so that we can produce content that fulfills your needs. You are welcome to share your own dog tips and behavior solutions among yourselves, however. Thank you for reading our articles and sharing your thoughts with the pack!

Set up his private den. He needs "a room of his own." From the earliest possible moment give your pup or dog his own, private sleeping place that's not used by anyone else in the family, or another pet. He'll benefit from short periods left alone in the comfort and safety of his den. Reward him if he remains relaxed and quiet. His den, which is often a crate, will also be a valuable tool for housetraining.

Puppies don't have very long attention spans, so keep all the puppy training sessions short. Practice one command for five minutes at a time, and again later when you have opportunities outside of training sessions. Your dog can only do one thing at a time, so focus on one skill and move on once he has mastered it. You should also always end the training on a positive note so your pet is excited for his next lesson.


After reading some of the articles and forums out there, I see that she is likely suffering from some kind of cognitive deficiency resulting from the loss/depletion of her senses and the early signs of kidney failure. As much as it pains me to say this, I realize that she may be suffering a great deal. I hate that she has to be drugged up on valium to have a decent quality of life. It breaks my heart. She is the sweetest dog I have ever had/encountered and I hate to see her going through this. We may be facing a tough decision in the next few days.
Begin doorway “wait”-training early. Teaching a dog to respect the threshold is important. You do not want a dog that runs out the door every time it opens — that could be dangerous for him. Doorway training doesn't need to happen every single time you go through a doorway. But you should make the most of your training opportunities early in your puppy's life.

Your dog is not the only factor to take into consideration when you are training in basic obedience; you also play a huge part in your dog’s training process. If you are considerably impatient or easily frustrated, then you are going to want to approach teaching your dog obedience in short lessons that focus on one command at a time. You can also benefit from enrolling in a small obedience class that will allow you a reprieve if you are feeling overwhelmed.


Once your dog can stay, you can gradually increase the distance. This is also true for the “sit.” The more solidly he learns it, the longer he can remain sitting. The key is to not expect too much, too soon. Training goals are achieved in increments, so you may need to slow down and focus on one thing at a time. To make sure the training “sticks,” sessions should be short and successful.
In competition obedience training, “heel” means the dog is walking on your left side with his head even with your knee while you hold the leash loosely. Puppy training can be a little more relaxed with the goal being that they walk politely on a loose leash without pulling. Some trainers prefer to say “let’s go” or “forward” instead of “heel” when they train this easy way of walking together.

If your dog is nervous because of certain situations, such as fireworks or thunderstorms, or even is nervous about being in a crowd, then distraction can work wonders. Engaging your dog's brain in work will help him focus on you and things he knows, rather than on the unknown around him that's frightening him. While it isn't the time to begin new training, it is a great time to practice tricks your dog knows and can earn rewards for. Try rewarding your dog with treats for simple commands like sit, stand, lie down, shake, sit up, roll over and other tricks he enjoys. Another possibility, especially for dogs who are highly food motivated, is distracting your dog with puzzle toys like a treat ball or tug jug, or even a frozen Kong toy stuffed with peanut butter. This can also help him associate frightening things like loud noises or strangers coming over with highly valued rewards, so that the event goes from being scary to being at least tolerable.

Be consistent. Your dog won’t understand what you want from him if his environment lacks consistency. Everyone who lives with your dog should understand and be on board with his training goals. For example, if you are training your dog not to jump on people, don’t let the kids allow the dog jump all over them. This will undermine all the training you’ve done.

To help my dog with his anxiety, I first try to identify the source of his anxiety. That is difficult to do without looking at the dog, his environment, routine, and other surrounding context. If I am not sure where the anxious behavior is coming from, I may visit with several good professional trainers. They can observe my dog, give me their opinion as to what is causing the anxiety, and why. Sometimes, I am too close to the problem, so it helps to get professional opinions from others.


Dogs competing in dog sports, such as flyball, agility or Schutzhund, must be trusted in an open field, off leash and surrounded by other people, dogs, hot dogs, and flying discs. This requires more focused attention on the owner and a better recall than that found in most household companion dogs, and more advanced training than that required for formal obedience.
• Sounds: Dogs can moan, whine, whimper, bark excessively or howl when they’re anxious or afraid. These sounds may differ from their regular sounds. A dog’s whimper for a treat or a happy bark at hearing you come through the door may sound different than a noise made out of fear. Owners know when their dogs react differently to stimuli. The more time you spend with your dog, the easier it will be to spot fear-based reactions.

When your dog is feeling anxious, it’ll be noticeable. You’ll come to be familiar with his behavior problems over time and know when to expect bigger moments of anxiousness. And symptoms are typically obvious. Dogs who are suffering from anxiety tend to bark more aggressively for longer periods of time. Your dog may also tear around the house, full of energy, and unable to settle down.
We’ve had our German shepherd mix rescue since she was a puppy; she will be 11 years old in March, and has been the joy of our lives. Suddenly, and for no apparent reason, she has started displaying signs we think are anxiety, and we aren’t sure how to proceed. Although she was never afraid of storms, in the last year she began trembling and panting during storms so much so that we purchased a thundershirt at the recommendation of our vet, with minimal improvement. We then noticed she would go up and down into the basement almost compulsively, recently staying in the dark in the basement for long periods of time. Now, she is climbing on furniture in a back room, which she has never ever done before, or she is hiding in a spare bathroom in a part of the house she was never allowed in formerly. She is panting and trembling almost constantly for no apparent reason, and we just don’t seem to know how to console her, or figure out what is wrong. She does seem to sleep at night, and seems relaxed when we awake in the morning, but before very long, she is panting and tembling again, and seems tormented. Do you think medication is needed or would help, or do you have other ideas? This all seems so sudden, and I am now starting to wonder if this is an inevitable part of her aging. Would sincerely appreciate any feedback you might be able to provide.
Discourage him from biting or nipping. Instead of scolding him, a great way to put off your mouthy canine is to pretend that you're in great pain when he's biting or nipping you. He'll be so surprised he's likely to stop immediately. If this doesn't work, try trading a chew toy for your hand or pant leg. The swap trick also works when he's into your favorite shoes. He'll prefer a toy or bone anyway. If all else fails, break up the biting behavior, and then just ignore him.
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