Dog Training Hacks That Will Make Home Life Easier

Shannon Quinn - March 30, 2023

Dogs are beloved members of many families, but living with an untrained pet can be frustrating and stressful. Properly training your dog can make a world of difference in your home life. This creates a happier and more harmonious environment for both you and your furry friend. However, training a dog can be a daunting task, especially if you’re not sure where to start. That’s why we’ve put together these training hacks that will make home life more enjoyable for the whole family. From basic obedience commands to potty training and beyond, these tips will help you train your dog effectively and make the most of your time together.

Credit: Shutterstock

Consistently Use Positive Reinforcement

The most common dog training hack is consistent positive reinforcement. This is a training method that can be done using treats, verbal praise, petting or cuddling. The idea behind positive reinforcement is that dogs will repeat behaviors that are rewarded. By rewarding good behavior, you can encourage your dog to behave well. The key to using positive reinforcement effectively is to reward your dog immediately after they exhibit the desired behavior. For example, if you’re teaching your dog to sit, you would give them a treat as soon as they sit down. You should also use verbal praise, such as saying “good dog!” in a happy tone of voice. Make sure you are consistent with their commands, as well as the rules of your household. Don’t confuse the dog by having only half of your household following the rules, or using different words like “sit” versus “down”.

Credit: Shutterstock

Start Training Early When They Are Still a Puppy

Starting training early is important because puppies have a natural curiosity and desire to please their owners. This means they are more receptive to learning new commands and behaviors, and are more likely to retain what they learn. Puppies can begin learning basic commands, such as “sit,” “stay,” and “come,” as early as 8 weeks old. It’s important to keep training sessions short and fun, using positive reinforcement to reward good behavior. One important thing to keep in mind when training a puppy is to use age-appropriate methods. Puppies have short attention spans, so it’s important to keep training sessions brief. It’s also important to be patient, as puppies may need time to learn. Training a puppy can also help prevent behavior problems from developing later on. By establishing clear rules and boundaries early on, you can prevent your puppy from developing bad habits.

Credit: Shutterstock

Use a Clicker

Clicker training is a training method that involves using a small device that makes a clicking sound. The clicker serves as a marker signal that tells your dog they have done something right. It is usually followed by a treat or other reward. The clicker is a unique sound that your dog will come to associate with a reward, making it easier for them to understand which behaviors are desired. To use a clicker for training, start by clicking the device and immediately giving your dog a treat. Repeat this process several times, until your dog associates the sound of the click with the treat. Then, you can start using the clicker to mark specific behaviors you want your dog to learn. For example, if you’re teaching your dog to sit, you would click the device as soon as your dog sits down, and then give them a treat.

Edit: The Smart Local

Give a Boop On The Nose (As a Last Resort)

We don’t encourage you to hurt your dog in any way. But, according to some professionals, a little boop on the nose can be an effective way to tell your dog “no”. To avoid discomfort to your dog and the mistaken notion of playing tug-of-war, it’s best not to pull back on the leash when it pulls in the opposite direction. Dog trainer Sunny Chong recommends a gentle but firm touch on the nose to convey disapproval. Dogs interact with the world mainly through their muzzle, making this an effective way to communicate. It’s important to note that while a light touch on the nose can be effective in communicating to your dog, it should only be used as a last resort and with caution. It’s always best to try positive reinforcement techniques first, such as rewarding your dog with treats and praise when it walks calmly on the leash.

Credit: Shutterstock

Use a Crate or a Gated Pen to Simulate a Dog’s “Den”

Crate training involves using a crate, which is a small, enclosed space for your dog to relax in. This can be helpful for a variety of purposes, such as potty training, preventing destructive behavior, and keeping your dog safe when you’re not home. When crate training, it’s important to make the crate a comfortable and inviting space for your dog. This can be done by adding a soft bed or blanket, and providing your dog with toys or treats to keep them entertained.mTo use a crate for potty training, you can place your dog in the crate for short periods of time, such as 30-60 minutes. Then take them outside to go potty immediately after. This helps your dog associate the crate with a positive outcome, such as getting to go outside. It’s important to note that a crate should never be used as a form of punishment.

Credit: Shutterstock

Be The “Alpha” Pack Leader Your Dog Wants to Follow

Dogs are pack animals and instinctively look for a leader to follow. As a dog owner, it’s important to establish yourself as the pack leader so that your dog respects and listens to you. Use confident body language and a firm but calm tone of voice when interacting with your dog. This means standing up straight, maintaining eye contact, and using a deep, authoritative voice when giving commands. It’s also important to set rules and boundaries for your dog, and consistently enforce them. An important aspect of establishing yourself as the pack leader is to provide your dog with structure and routine. When your dog sees you as the pack leader, they will be more likely to follow your commands. Establishing yourself as the pack leader doesn’t mean being harsh or aggressive with your dog. It’s about providing clear guidance and leadership in a calm and confident manner.

Credit: Shutterstock

Use Hand Signals Alongside Verbal Commands

Using hand signals in addition to verbal commands can be a powerful training tool. It provides your dog with a visual cue to accompany your verbal command. This can be especially helpful for dogs who may have trouble hearing. To start using hand signals, choose a set of simple gestures that correspond with the commands you want your dog to learn. For example, you might use a flat hand held out in front of you to signal “stop” or “stay,” or a downward-pointing finger to signal “lie down.” When introducing hand signals, it’s important to use them consistently and in conjunction with the verbal command. Over time, your dog will begin to associate the hand signal with the command and will be able to follow the command using only the hand signal.

Credit: Shutterstock

Chewy Toys Help Stop “Destructive Chewing”

There are plenty of horror stories out there about dogs that have destroyed their owner’s things by chewing them to bits. But according to Harsh Goyal, a dog trainer and pet behaviorist as well as the founder of Improve Dogs, says that “Giving them something to chew is a great way to stop them from destructive chewing.” For example, my brother’s dog chews on his slipper every day. She doesn’t chew on it enough to destroy it. Most people would get angry or try to save their shoes from the dog. But he’s happy knowing that as long as she is chewing on the slipper, she’s not chewing on something more important! There are plenty of chew toys on the market at your local pet store and online.

Credit: Shutterstock

Establish a Consistent Daily Routine

Establishing a consistent routine for feeding and potty breaks is so important. Dogs thrive on routine and predictability, and having a set schedule can help reduce stress and anxiety in your furry friend. A consistent feeding schedule can also help prevent obesity and other health problems in dogs. By feeding your dog at the same time each day and providing them with a consistent portion size, you can help maintain a healthy weight and prevent overeating. Establishing a consistent routine for potty breaks can also be helpful for potty training. Dogs need to go potty frequently, especially when they are young. So it’s important to take them outside regularly and at consistent intervals. For example, you might take your dog outside to go potty first thing in the morning, after meals, and before bed.

Credit: Burst by Shopify

Exercise to Prevent Your Pet’s Boredom and Lead a Healthier Lifestyle

When training your dog, it’s important to start with simple exercises and gradually increase the difficulty over time. This allows your dog to build on their skills and confidence, and helps prevent frustration and boredom. For example, if you’re teaching your dog to sit, you would start by asking them to sit in a quiet, distraction-free environment. Once they have mastered this skill, you might move on to practicing sitting in a more distracting environment, such as a park or busy street. Gradually increasing the difficulty of training exercises can help prevent your dog from becoming overwhelmed and discouraged. It also allows you to build on your dog’s skills and teach them more advanced commands and behaviors. It’s important to note that each dog is unique and may progress at their own pace. Some dogs may need more time to master a particular skill.

Credit: The Smart Local

Go to the Vet For “Happy Visits”

Many dogs experience fear when visiting the veterinarian. This can make medical visits difficult for both the pet and their owner. To address this issue, Dr. Christine, a veterinary expert, suggests scheduling non-medical visits, also called “happy visits,” to the veterinarian’s office. These visits aim to establish positive associations with the vet’s office and staff. This helps dogs feel less anxious during future visits. During happy visits, pet owners can bring their dogs to the clinic for short visits that involve non-medical activities such as playing, getting treats, or simply spending time in the waiting room. These visits allow the dogs to become familiar with the sights, sounds, and smells of the clinic without any stressful medical procedures. This can help them build trust and feel more relaxed during future visits. This technique is particularly effective for younger puppies who have not yet had any medical procedures.

Credit: Shutterstock

Play “Fetch” Before a Training Session

Before engaging in high-focus training, it’s a good idea to let your pup release some energy through a fast-paced fetch session. Training after a nice long walk or game of fetch can help your dog take the edge off and improve its focus. You might also want to consider buying a ball launcher, which will help you throw a ball longer distances. The launcher is user-friendly and easy to operate, making it a great choice for dog owners of all experience levels. Spending quality time playing fetch with your furry friend before training will not only help them release their energy but also strengthen the bond between you and your pup.

Credit: Shutterstock

Use High-Value Treats

When training your dog, it’s important to use treats as a reward for good behavior. However, not all treats are created equal. High-value treats are treats that your dog finds especially tasty or rewarding. They can be used to motivate and reinforce good behavior during training. High-value treats can vary from dog to dog. But common examples include pieces of cooked chicken, cheese, hot dogs, or freeze-dried meat. These treats are more appealing to your dog than regular dog biscuits. They can be used to keep your dog engaged and motivated during training sessions. For example, you might use them to reward your dog for successfully completing a difficult task, or to reinforce good behavior during a training exercise. It’s also important to balance high-value treats with regular treats, so that your dog doesn’t become too dependent on high-value treats and lose interest in regular training.

Credit: Burst by Shopify

Celebrate Progress Every Step of the Way

Dogs thrive on positive reinforcement, and celebrating progress can be a powerful tool in motivating and encouraging good behavior. Some ways to celebrate progress during training include using positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats and praise, to reward good behavior consistently. Celebrate small successes along the way, such as learning a new behavior or mastering a challenging command. Incorporate play and affection as rewards for good behavior, such as a game of fetch or a belly rub. Setting achievable goals for your dog, and celebrating their progress as they work towards these goals When celebrating progress, it’s important to be patient and consistent in your training. Avoid getting frustrated or angry if your dog does not immediately respond to a command or behavior. It’s also important to use positive reinforcement techniques consistently, and to avoid using punishment or negative reinforcement.

Credit: Shutterstock

Try Playing The “Elevator Game” With Treats

Who doesn’t love a challenge for a tasty treat? If you’re looking to improve your dog’s behavior, Shonyae Johnson, the behavior manager for Operation Kindness, recommends the elevator game. This game teaches dogs patience while waiting for food or treats. To play, simply hold a treat in your hand and lift it up high (representing the top floor of an elevator), then slowly lower it down to your pet’s mouth once all four paws are on the ground. If your dog’s paws lift off the ground at any point, raise the treat back up to the starting point and continue until your dog can control its impulses. Johnson notes that this method rewards patience and improves basic skills like lying down, sitting, and staying.

Credit: Burst by Shopify

Don’t Punish Your Dog

Punishing your dog for bad behavior is a common mistake that many dog owners make. But it can actually be counterproductive and damaging to your dog’s training and well-being. Dogs respond best to positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats, praise, and playtime. This rewards good behavior and encourages them to repeat the behavior in the future. Punishing your dog for bad behavior, on the other hand, can cause fear, anxiety, and aggression, which can lead to more behavior problems in the long run. Instead of punishing your dog for bad behavior, it’s important to focus on redirecting their behavior towards a more positive outcome. For example, if your dog is jumping on guests, you might redirect their attention to a toy or treat and reward them for sitting calmly instead. It’s also important to be patient and consistent during training, and to avoid getting angry or frustrated with your dog.

Credit: Shutterstock

Be Aware of Your Dog’s Body Language

Being able to read and interpret your dog’s body language is an important part of effective training and communication. By understanding your dog’s body language, you can better understand their emotions, needs, and desires. Adjust your training techniques accordingly. Some common examples of dog body language include wagging tails, erect ears, and raised hackles. These behaviors can indicate a range of emotions. It’s important to be aware of your dog’s body language during training, as it can help you gauge their level of engagement and understand how they are responding to your training techniques. Being aware of your dog’s body language can also help you prevent behavior problems before they occur. For example, if you notice your dog becoming stiff or tense around other dogs, it may be a sign that they are feeling fearful or aggressive. It’s important to remove your dog from the situation.

Credit: Shutterstock

Don’t Give In To “Bossy Barking”

According to Shonyae Johnson, the behavior manager for Operation Kindness, it’s important to avoid giving attention to demanding barks from your dog. She suggests teaching the opposite: that barking gets your pet nothing or makes you leave. This helps your dog understand that barking is not an effective way to get what it wants. Johnson explains that as soon as your dog becomes quiet, you can give it the attention it desires. However, if your dog starts barking again, it’s important to go back to ignoring it. By withholding attention or withholding dinner until your dog is quiet, you can teach it that it gets what it wants faster by stopping the barking. It may take some patience and consistency, but over time, your dog will learn that barking is not the best way to communicate its needs and desires.

Credit: Shutterstock

Use a Variety of Training Methods

Dogs, like people, learn in different ways. Using a variety of training methods can help keep your dog engaged and motivated during training. Some common training methods include positive reinforcement training, clicker training, and lure training. Positive reinforcement training involves using treats, praise, and playtime to reward good behavior. Clicker training uses a clicking sound to signal good behavior and reinforce positive outcomes. Lure training involves using a treat or toy to guide your dog into performing a desired behavior. By using a variety of training methods, you can also tailor your training to your dog’s individual needs. If your dog is more interested in playtime, you might incorporate games and toys into your training routine. It’s important to note that not all training methods work for every dog, and it may take some trial and error to find the methods that work best for them.

Credit: Shutterstock

For Smaller Dogs, Try Elevated Training

Certified professional dog trainer Nicole Ellis from Rover recommends elevated training and specialized tools to facilitate this method. She suggests using an elevated platform, such as an ottoman or training platform, to bring pets higher and improve their focus. This prevents them from running off, and discourages jumping on visitors. An ottoman with storage like this one is an ideal option for implementing the elevated training technique recommended by Ellis. It not only provides a functional footrest for your living space but also has a soft surface and durable build for comfortable and safe training sessions with your furry friend. However, just make sure this elevated space is appropriate for your dog. If you are training it to not stand on the furniture, don’t confuse it by allowing them on an ottoman you use as a footrest.

Credit: Burst by Shopify

Practice In Different Environments

Dogs learn best when they are exposed to a variety of environments. Practicing training in different environments can help your dog generalize their skills and behaviors to a range of contexts. For example, if your dog has learned to sit and stay in your living room, it’s important to practice the same commands in a public space. You can help your dog learn to generalize their skills and behaviors, and respond appropriately to different cues and situations. This is especially important for dogs who are being trained for specific tasks or jobs, such as service dogs or search and rescue dogs. When practicing in different environments, it’s important to start with less challenging environments and gradually work up to more distracting or challenging ones. For example, you might start by practicing in a quiet backyard, and then gradually move to a busier park or other public space.

Credit: Shutterstock

Consider Professional Training

While many dog owners can successfully train their dogs on their own, there are certain situations where professional training may be necessary. Professional trainers are experienced in working with a range of dog breeds and behaviors, and can provide personalized training plans that are tailored to your dog’s individual needs. Some situations where professional training may be necessary include severe aggressive or destructive behavior problems. If your dog is being trained for a specific task or job, such as a service dog or therapy dog, professional training may be necessary to ensure that your dog is properly trained and certified for the task. And if you have limited time to train your dog, a professional trainer can help you develop a training plan that is tailored to your schedule and your dog’s needs. It’s also important to remember that professional training is an ongoing process that requires consistency and commitment.

Credit: Burst by Shopify

Use Real-Life Rewards

Real-life rewards refer to using real-life experiences, such as going for a walk, playing fetch, or receiving affection, as rewards for good behavior. This type of training can be highly effective, as it helps your dog associate good behavior with positive experiences that are part of their everyday life. The goal is to encourage the dog to repeat the behavior in the future, in order to receive the same reward. Real-life rewards are especially effective because they are highly motivating for dogs. They can also help build a stronger bond with you both. For example, if your dog has learned to walk calmly on a leash, you might reward them with a walk to their favorite park or trail. Similarly, if your dog has learned to come when called, you might reward them with a game of fetch or some quality cuddle time.

Credit: Burst by Shopify

Practice Obedience in Everyday Situations

Practicing obedience in everyday situations involves incorporating obedience training into your daily routines and activities, such as walking your dog, greeting guests, and feeding your dog. This type of training can help your dog learn to respond to commands and cues in a variety of situations, and reinforce good behavior consistently. For example, if you’re walking your dog and come across a busy street, you might use the “stop” or “stay” command to keep your dog safe. Similarly, if you’re greeting guests at your front door, you might use commands to prevent your dog from jumping on your guests. When practicing obedience in everyday situations, it’s important to use positive reinforcement techniques such as treats, praise, and playtime, to reward good behavior. You should also be patient and consistent in your training, and avoid getting frustrated or angry if your dog does not immediately respond to a command or behavior.

Credit: Burst by Shopify

Teach Your Dog to Be Calm

Teaching your dog to be calm is an important part of training. It can help prevent behavior problems such as barking, jumping, and destructive behavior. This can also help your dog feel more relaxed and comfortable in different situations. There are several ways to teach your dog to be calm. For example, you might reward your dog for lying down calmly on their bed or for staying calm while greeting guests. Another effective method is to use relaxation techniques, such as massage or aromatherapy, to help your dog relax and calm down. You might also try using calming music or a calming pheromone diffuser to create a peaceful and relaxing environment for your dog. It’s also important to avoid reinforcing hyperactive or excitable behavior in your dog. For example, you might avoid playing games that encourage jumping or biting, and instead encourage calm and relaxed behavior with soothing activities.

Credit: Burst by Shopify

Be Consistent With Rules and Boundaries

Being consistent with rules and boundaries is an important part of training. It can help your dog understand what is expected of them and prevent confusion and frustration. When setting rules and boundaries for your dog, it’s important to be clear and consistent, and to communicate these rules in a way that your dog can understand. For example, if you want your dog to stay off the couch, you should communicate this rule consistently, using the same verbal and nonverbal cues each time. Consistency also means enforcing these rules consistently, and avoiding mixed messages or exceptions to the rules. For example, if you allow your dog on the couch one day and then punish them for it the next, this can be confusing and frustrating for your dog. In addition to setting and enforcing rules and boundaries, it’s also important to provide your dog with clear guidance and leadership.

Credit: Shutterstock

Use Positive Body Language, and Be Aware of Your Own Behavior

Positive body language is an important part of training. It can help communicate your intentions and build a relationship. Positive body language involves using calm and confident gestures. Some examples include using an upright posture and standing tall to convey confidence and authority. Maintaining eye contact with your dog to communicate your intentions. Using open and relaxed gestures, such as outstretched arms, to convey a non-threatening demeanor. Using a calm and reassuring tone of voice to communicate your intentions and provide guidance. Positive body language can also include using play and affection as rewards. On the other hand, negative body language, such as tense gestures, raised voices, and aggressive postures, can be threatening and intimidating to your dog. This can lead to fear and anxiety in your dog, which can make it harder for them to learn and respond to your training.

Credit: Bursty by Shopify

Don’t Overwhelm Your Dog. Train One Behavior at a Time

Overwhelming your dog can lead to confusion, anxiety, and a lack of responsiveness to training. Dogs, like humans, can become overwhelmed when faced with too much information or too many new experiences at once. Some ways to avoid overwhelming your dog during training include breaking training sessions into shorter, more manageable sessions. Focusing on one behavior or command at a time can help your dog understand and learn the behavior more effectively, and prevent them from becoming confused by multiple commands at once. Gradually increasing the difficulty of training exercises can help your dog build their skills and confidence over time, and prevent them from becoming overwhelmed by too much difficulty too soon.

Credit: PetSmart

Buy a Portable Playpen For Social Distancing at the Dog Park

This is definitely a “hack” that not many people think of. If you want to give your dog a social space without necessarily allowing it to interact with other dogs, a portable playpen is an excellent solution. Playpens are also perfect for various outdoor activities such as camping, picnicking, or simply spending time in your backyard. It provides a safe and comfortable space for your furry friend to relax and enjoy the outdoors without being exposed to potential hazards. Plus, its portability makes it easy to carry and store when not in use. Of course, eventually, your dog might feel ready to socialize with other dogs. Playpens can be useful for the transitional period beforehand.

Credit: Shutterstock

Use a Variety of Rewards So Your Dog Never Gets Bored

Using a variety of rewards is effective to help keep your pet engaged and motivated during training. This helps reinforce positive behavior consistently. Dogs respond well to rewards. And by using a variety, you can find what motivates them the most and use it to your advantage during training. Some examples of rewards you can use during training include treats, which are a classic reward for good behavior. You can use small, bite-sized treats or larger, more special treats. Praise is a simple way to reward during training. You can use a happy and enthusiastic tone of voice to communicate your appreciation and satisfaction with your dog’s behavior. Playtime and toys can be great rewards, as it allows your dog to have fun. Affection, such as a belly rub or a scratch behind the ears, can be a powerful reward and can help build a stronger bond between you.

Credit: Shutterstock

Train Your Dog to Be Alone To Alleviate Anxiety

Dogs are social animals and can become anxious when left alone for too long. Training your dog to be alone is important, because it can help prevent separation anxiety. It also helps to stop destructive behavior when you’re not home. Gradually increase the amount of time your dog spends alone. Start by leaving your dog alone for short periods of time and gradually increase the time as they become more comfortable being alone. Use treats and praise to reward your pet for good behavior during alone time. Create a safe and comfortable space for your pet when you’re not home, such as a crate or a designated area with toys and comfortable bedding. Provide plenty of exercise and mental stimulation before leaving your pet alone, to help them feel tired and content. Using calming aids, such as calming music, can help your furry friend feel more relaxed during alone time.

Credit: Shutterstock

Use a Long “Smiling” Leash for Recall Training

Using a long leash for recall training is an effective way to help your pet learn to come when called. Recall training is an essential part of training, as it can help prevent dangerous situations, such as when your dog is off-leash in a public area. Choose a leash that is appropriate for your dog’s size and weight. A long leash that is too short or too long can be ineffective or dangerous during recall training. Begin recall training in a quiet and safe area, away from distractions or dangers. Start with short distances and gradually increase the distance as your dog becomes more comfortable and confident. Avoid pulling on the leash. Let your dog move freely on the leash and reward good behavior when they come to you.

Credit: Shutterstock

Try Giving Your Dog The “Knot Test” On Your Next Walk

In the previous post, we talked about using a long leash when you’re training your dog. So if you already have the longer leash on hand, try this next hack. If you’re looking to take your dog on more leash-led walks, certified dog trainer and founder of MJ’s Pet Training Academy, Melissa “MJ” Viera, has a useful tip. She suggests tying a loose knot in the leash to test your dog’s ability to walk calmly without pulling. By the end of the walk, if the knot is still loose, your dog is doing a great job at walking calmly on a leash. However, if the knot is tight, your dog may need more training in walking calmly.

Credit: Pexels

Train in Short Bursts

Training in short bursts is an effective training hack that can help keep your dog engaged and focused during training, and prevent boredom or frustration. Dogs have a relatively short attention span, and long training sessions can become tedious and ineffective. Rather than dedicating one long session to training, set aside brief training sessions throughout the day. Keeping training sessions to 10-15 minutes at a time. This is a good rule of thumb for keeping your dog engaged and focused during training. Use positive reinforcement techniques to reward good behavior consistently. Incorporate play and affection into training sessions as rewards for good behavior. Vary the types of training activities to prevent boredom, such as obedience training, trick training, and agility training.

Credit: Canva

Enjoy the Process

Last but not least is that you should try to enjoy the process. Training dogs can be a challenging and time-consuming process. But it can also be a fun and rewarding experience for both you and your furry friend. Enjoying the process of training can help you stay motivated and engaged, and can create a positive and enriching experience. Incorporate games, toys, and other fun activities into training sessions to make them more enjoyable. It’s important to take breaks and avoid burnout during training. Set realistic goals and break up training sessions into shorter, more manageable segments. Celebrate your dog’s successes and progress, no matter how small. Remember that training is a process. It may take time and patience to see results. Training can be a great way to strengthen the bond between you both. Enjoy the time spent together and build a stronger relationship.