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How do you train a dog?

I have seen many questions on training dogs in here, and the advice runs from on end of the spectrum to the other.

So, my question is: Is there ONE method of training that works for every dog?

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13 Responses to “How do you train a dog?”

  1. Bozema said :

    No, actually there isn’t. Basic puppy obedience training should focus on socialization and positive reinforcement. Also dealing with most behavioral problems requires a similar approach. But dogs with severe aggression problems sometimes need different approaches. However I never advocate any approach that is violent or causes fear or harm to the dog.

  2. letterstoheather said :

    yes, consistency and effort work every time.

    you can’t be lax.. you have to be consistent, and let the dog know what you want.

    there are many free websites about dog training. do a yahoo search on FREE DOG TRAINING TIPS, DOG OBEDIENCE for starters.

    take care too.

  3. lizard S said :

    Consistency and keeping your temper/ fear under control.

  4. Shadow's Melon said :

    No, there is not just one method that works for every single dog. Each dog is different and so different methods will apply. In the case with my Border Collie, I have found the clicker/positive reinforcement method to be very effective. Now, there are still corrections as needed, but not often a need for anything major.

    I have also found tug play reward to also be effective and builds the drive up in my dog during a training session better than anything else.

    These methods work well with my dog, because she wants to please. Not all dogs are this way and so some would need a different training method.

    When I offer any kind of training based advice, it is always given for what works for me and I often suggest the asker research their options, try some on their dog and then settle into one that suits them best.

  5. Cindy said :

    Yes, I think so.

    Patience, consistency, repetition and praise or reward. That works every time.

    I forgot – discipline. Not beating the daylights out of your dog, but a firm, not angry correction is good.

    You adjust each of the things listed for the individual dog… but I think you apply them all – just to varying degrees.

    It’s not a formula, it’s a way of living with your dog on a daily basis. I don’t see training as something you do once and stop. You LIVE it. Make sense?

  6. Dogjudge said :

    If you’re looking for a response along the lines of Mr. XXX’s method works for all dogs at all times. NO there is no one method that works.

    You need to consider what you’re dealing with. Size of the dog. Temperament of the dog. The various drives of the dog.

    Even within a specific breed, or a specific litter you are going to get variations that the trainer has to be sensitive to.

    That being said, there are a variety of methods that tend to be more effective than others for most dogs.

    One of the signs of a great obedience trainer is the fact that they’ve got a lot of different options in their bag of tricks. If one thing doesn’t work, they have a variety of other things that they can try.

    Lastly. Good trainers are also aware of the evolution of dog training. What was considered THE best method 20 years ago is totally different today. Those ideas, coupled with the new ideas, give us the ideas for tomorrow.

  7. greekman said :

    Oh boy, Kats, this will be a hot one. OK, here we go. Although there are many members, friends and associates that will tell you there is only one method to train a dog for a specific discipline, I do not totally agree with that. I know of clubs in Holland where they have one training method that is used on every single dog that goes there to train for their PH I title, or police dog title. Now, while I happen to think that there is more than one training method available, I also think that there is also a limited number of ways to train a dog to do scent discrimination for example. I do understand that there are dogs out there with very different temperaments and different training methods need to be employed to clearly communicate with them, but, again, there are a finite number of ways to train a dog to RELIABLY exhibit a behavior. In th end, yes, it is not about different training methods really, but about different ways to tell your dog what you want done and have him do it every time. I cannot wait to see what others will say.

  8. gartom said :

    Good question
    With my Silken (and yes i know I’ll get thumbs down for mentioning Silken) the reward based method works really well and she still obeys my recall every time!

    My Fauve well that was a whole different story.
    It was the first time of owning a scent hound for me, so I tried the reward method and it worked well for basic commands of sit and down.
    For recall I’ve practically given up I’m ashamed to say and he does NOT go off the lead, apart from when at agility. He sticks to me like glue and loves it, I personally don’t quite understand his logic, so if anyone has any advice about that I’d be pleased to hear from you. 🙂
    I don’t ever beat my dogs, but with the Fauve, bless him he’s a bit thick and I have to be a lot firmer with him and that’s what works for him.

  9. koehlerdogtraining said :

    There is one training concept which works for all dogs – abstractly expressed it would look like this:


    And there are many, many ways to travel that road.

    As to “one method?” I don’t think so. Even amongst my own association of trainers, we can only claim a 75-85% graduation success rate. That means that in any given Novice level class, hard as we try, we know that there is the possibility that some attending will not be able to pass the graduation test. Sure, it is not un-common to graduate the whole class … but it is definately not the norm.

    The problem? Mostly the human half of the equation. Kinda like high school, I guess. No matter how hard teachers and parents try, only some percentage of students will graduate (and move on), others will have to do the GED thing (seek another path), and there are those who simply drop out (to set up shop along the side of the road, servicing those still traveling).

    A bonus for your readership. Here’s a universal training “plan:”

    1: Teach the dog what IT is you want;
    2: Give IT a name;
    3: Praise the dog when he gets IT right; and only after he has repeatedly demonstrated that he understands what IT is you want, do you
    4: Correct the dog to help him keep IT right.

    Tony Ancheta

  10. Bassetnut said :

    I don’t think so. There are certain priciples that must be applied i.e. consistency and firmness, but otherwise you need to tailor the training to the dog (and the handler). Some dogs respond best to a soft touch and can’t handle much physical correction, others need a “smack upside the head” just to get their attention focused on you.

    Also, it’s not necessarily a question of what “works” for each dog, but of what “works BEST” for each dog. Sure, you CAN eventually get a very sensitive dog to work for you using harsh methods, but in the meantime you and the dog are going through a lot of stress and the dog may never work with the enthusiasm you want, and may not trust you. And sure, you can eventually get a crazed, hard-headed dog to work for you using “only positive” methods, but a lot of owners will give up before that point and just get rid of the dog, whereas a couple of good corrections will generally bring such an animal back down to earth pretty quickly.

  11. Lily62 said :

    Every dog is different.Usually bribes work. It’s funny because bribes don’t work people. Dog treats help a lot. After a while they’ll respond without a bribe. Then again every dog is works.different.This worked for my dog so. And every dog is different so I don’t think there is one method, but the bribe usually works.

  12. a gal and her dog said :

    Not one method, necessarily, but a formula. I agree with Tony – teach the dog what you want, name it, get it consistent, and then correct the dog. I’m guilty of yelling at dogs in the past for not behaving when they didn’t know what I wanted.

    I find that adopting the mindset – and this is with basic obedience – that I’m teaching the dog manners and showing it what I want gets me in the best state to teach the dog, for whatever reason. Each dog is different, and methods do need to be adjusted for those differences. Good question!

  13. st.lady37 (GitEm) said :

    Every dog is different and may require its own unique methods. That’s the problem I have with those training shows. You have to evaluate each dog on its own abilities and drive. Some will be happy with food, some play, some a pat on the head and recognition. I train my dogs more sternly than most. My dogs are huge and I cant ever allow them to think they can get the upper hand. I dont train my Peke the same way. She was a therapy dog, she needed a more kind and gentle personality and behavior. She sits, stays, and does little tricks to please a sick person. My Saints wont do that. They are all different.


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