3 Tips for Supporting Your Puppy’s Training at Home

Photo of a dog receiving a treat

3 Tips for Supporting Your Puppy’s Training at Home

Now that you and your young pup have started learning a few things in a professional dog training class, you may be wondering how you can take this information and further your fur-baby’s training at home. You’re in luck, because Wagsworth has just the right person to ask—Davyda DeSimone, our talented professional dog trainer. Davyda has over 10 years of experience training dogs and holds certificates from two esteemed academies: Karen Pryor Academy and Dunbar Academy. In addition, she is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and a CGC Approved Evaluator for the American Kennel Club. Davyda teaches all our training classes here at Wagsworth, and she has plenty of ideas to help you and your new best friend stay on track between classes.

“Puppy parents don’t have to commit hours to training their fur-babies outside the classroom. If you and your pup only have 5 to 15 minutes a day, you can still get great results.”

~ Davyda, Wagsworth Professional Dog Trainer

Unleash your pup’s potential with Davyda’s three at-home training tips.

While we can’t share everything Davyda knows in just this one blog (that would take volumes and volumes), we think these insights are a great starting point. But if you have further dog training questions, feel free to get in touch.

Tip #1: Positively reinforce your fur-baby’s good behavior.

You gave your pup the “sit” command, and, amazingly, their tush hit the floor. Now, it’s time to let them know what a good job they’ve done. One of the most effective tools for reinforcing good behavior in a positive manner is through treat training. But don’t go investing in boxes of dog treats quite yet. Davyda says you can use your puppy’s kibble as training treats. Her “no free lunches” approach, which includes feeding your dog from hand rather than putting their food in a bowl, has two main benefits: first, it promotes healthier eating habits since your dog won’t be eating as many treats outside of meals, and second, it fills them with a sense of pride and achievement whenever a reward is earned.

“The more you reward and praise for good behavior, the more your dog is going to repeat that behavior.”

~ Davyda, Wagsworth Professional Dog Trainer

Once your puppy gets the hang of how this works, you can decrease—and eventually phase out—the number of treats you give them for following a command, or you can start upping the ante. For example, instead of giving them a reward for sitting when asked, give them two commands to follow at a time, like “sit” and “lie down,” before offering a yummy prize. Keep in mind that treats are just one way to reward good behavior. Showering your dog with lots of verbal praise and petting usually works quite well, too.

Tip #2: Give your puppy clear and consistent direction.

One of the most important ways you can ensure that what your dog learns in the classroom actually sticks is to stick to a regular routine at home. You can establish this consistency by making training part of yours and your pup’s daily activities. For example, before allowing your fur-baby to enjoy a meal, you could ask them to sit and wait in front of their food bowl, count to three silently, then give them abundant praise for their patience before letting them enjoy their food. This exercise helps with patience and discourages overprotectiveness. Repeatedly doing training exercises like this at home should help your pup recognize basic cues, pick up on patterns, and move up the learning curve more quickly. It also reinforces with your dog the idea that “If I cooperate, there’s likely a reward in it for me!”

Of course, there are also some surefire ways to confuse your puppy if you’re not clear with your communication. For example, varying the words you use to ask your dog to do something or overcommunicating when they don’t respond to a command can lead to a very perplexed pup. Instead, it’s important that all members of the household know the terms for cues and commands used in the classroom and that they adhere to them at home. Also, try to avoid giving too many corrections in a row. If your dog doesn’t immediately respond to a request, it’s best to give them a minute to think about it, as they may just need a little extra time to process the command.

“When a parent asks their dog to ‘sit’ and the pup doesn’t do it right away, the inclination is to rush right in with the command again. But it’s best for your dog’s learning to say the command, pause a few seconds to let them think about it, and then try again, if necessary.”

~ Davyda, Wagsworth Professional Dog Trainer

Tip #3: Make sure training is fun for you and your best buddy.

Incorporating games—and laughs—into your at-home training plan is a great way to reinforce what you and your puppy have learned in class. But what kind of game should you and your dog play? For starters, you can try a pup-friendly version of hide-and-seek. Here’s how to play: Ask your dog to “sit” and “stay.” Then, you find a hiding spot in another room (that’s not so hidden). After that, call out to your little buddy to come find you and give them plenty of praise when they do—heavy petting works well here! Of course, familiar games like tug-of-war and fetch are great opportunities for you and your puppy to practice commands like “drop it” or “leave it.” But not all games have to be so structured. Dogs love to sniff all sorts of things, so a fun game to try is one that Davyda calls “sniff-ari,” in which you give your dog the freedom to explore a new area and all its interesting scents. When your pup starts poking its nose somewhere it shouldn’t be, though, it gives you two the chance to practice the “come” command.

“To be a success, at-home training shouldn’t feel like work. By incorporating games, you and your dog can have lots of fun while learning together!”

~ Davyda, Wagsworth Professional Dog Trainer

Start your puppy off on the right paw by enrolling them in a class at Wagsworth.

For many parents, the toughest part of training their new dog is getting started. There is so much information available today that it can make it difficult to figure out the best approach for working on better behavior with your unique fur-baby. But you don’t have to go it alone! Wagsworth and Davyda would be thrilled to have the opportunity to guide you and your pup along this wonderful learning journey.

If you’ve got a puppy who is anywhere from 10 weeks to 7 months old, our S.T.A.R. Puppy class may be perfect for both of you. In this beginner class, the primary focus is socialization, so the first 15 minutes of each class is all about letting the four-legged students and their parents get to know one another. During this time, Davyda pays close attention to how your dog interacts with others. Based on her observations, she provides specific feedback about your pup’s distinct communication and play styles. In addition, in this 6-week series, you will get numerous dog parenting tips, from the best ways to crate and house train your pup to how to handle mouthing. Your puppy, in the meantime, will learn important social skills, basic cues, and good manners, like sitting instead of jumping, paying attention, leaving it, and walking nicely on leash.

Wagsworth also offers private lessons for parents and puppies who might benefit from a more personalized approach. Or, you can add a training class to your dog’s Daycamp or overnight stay. Davyda welcomes any parents who add that service to their pup’s stay to come in and observe how she is using different movements, gestures, and hand signals, so they can make sure they’re using the same methods at home.

Professional dog training provides many benefits beyond just a well-mannered pup, the most important of which is that it is sure to help strengthen the bond between you and your fur-baby. Check out the variety of training classes we have for dogs of all ages and experience levels. You’re sure to find one that is the right fit for both you and your best friend. No matter which course you select, Davyda and her team will make sure that having fun is at the heart of it.