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Six Tips to Improve Your Dog’s Life

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Here are some quick tips to quickly improve your dog’s life and strengthen your relationship with your dog:

Learn your dog’s language 

Some of this is specific to your dog and will take time and practice to observe. However, learning to read dog body language in general can get you started with undertanding what your dog is telling you. A good resource for this is Lily Chin’s book Doggie Language.

Learn your dog’s preferences

Figure out your dog’s favorite foods and toys. Do they love food or toys more? Understanding this goes a long way toward knowing what motivates your dog and what you can use as reinforcement for training. 

Give your dog choice

“We are automatically reinforced when we successfully control the physical world.” - B.F. Skinner

Giving your dog autonomy and agency whenever possible will give you  more leeway with them in situations where they don’t. Giving your dog the power to say “no” will also mean they will say “yes” more often. 

If you really want to go deep with this, look into training your dog for cooperative care and check out the Premack Principle.

Give your dog variety

Food variety and treat variety are pretty easy to accomplish. If your dog’s food comes in more than one protein variety, switch it up every time you buy it. If this isn’t an option for your dog due to allergies or intolerances, 

Swap out toys periodically. I have a large tub where I keep my dogs’ toys and every few weeks I wash the ones that are out in a toy basket and put a few new toys out in their toy basket.

Change up how they eat — put their food in different toys, feeders, and so on.

Provide them with a variety of enrichment, a variety of games, variety of exercise, variety of socialization. This can be as easy as changing the route you walk if you walk your dog daily!

Listen to your dog

Be open to what your dog is teaching you and telling you every day – take their “feedback” seriously and make adjustments accordingly! No one is perfect, and this goes for both you and your dog, but realizing that your dog’s behavior is communication about what they want or don’t want, what they like or don’t like, will make you a better listener.

Be compassionate

In everything you do with your dog, be compassionate. Remember that he or she is a sentient being with their own learning history, genetics, and motivations. They are doing the best they can with the education you’ve given them. Contrary to what some pop culture trainers say, your dog is not your adversary and isn’t trying to dominate or manipulate you. They are just doing what works for them to get what they want. If what you want conflicts with what they want, find a way to teach them to want what you want and use rewards to make them want it too!

Play, Train, Sleep, Repeat!

By Training No Comments

Did you know that if you want to make faster progress with your dog’s training you can do multiple training sessions each day? The key is sleep!

A study performed in Hungary published in 2017 suggests that sleep is just as important for dogs as it is for humans and that sleep after training helps dogs to learn and consolidate information.

As a trainer, when a client asks for best practices for training their dog, I recommend multiple short sessions per day – as short as 2-5 minutes for young puppies and a bit longer for older dogs, but always keep it only as long as it will be fun for both you and your dog!

The important key for doing multiple sessions per day, however, is sleep. Be sure your dog has time for a nap in between sessions.

The daily routine I recommend is:

1- Play with your dog for a while (the exact amount of play will vary depending on the age, breed, and individual dog) to burn off a little energy and help them be able to focus. Play also helps us bond with our dog.

2 – Do a short training session. Keep it short and fun! Just a few minutes is all you need.

3 – Send them to their crate, a bed, a quiet room, or other favorite resting spot, for a chew or a lick session. Chewing and licking are calming behaviors for dogs and will help them settle down for a nap. Some peanut butter, Greek yogurt, or canned food spread on a lick mat are great for encouraging licking.

4 – Repeat! Once your dog has had a good rest, you can start again.

As always, be sure to make learning fun and set your dog up for success. And now you know to also be sure to give your dog plenty of opportunity to rest.

Want help with your dog’s training? Request a meet & greet!

Check out reporting from the American Animal Hospital Association on the study here:

Check out the NIH report on the study here: