10 Dog Training Tips That Every Seattle Dog Owner Needs To Know

As a loving, dedicated pet parent, you know that training your dog is important for keeping both of you happy. and ensuring a strong, positive bond with you and your furry companion. Training helps to establish clear communication, builds trust, and creates a harmonious living environment for both you and your dog. Sometimes it seems like a never-ending battle to get them to even look at you. Training can be especially challenging in a city like Seattle where there are tons of distractions. So that’s why I’ve put together these tips. No matter where you and your dog are in your training journey, you can use these tips to help ease those stressful feelings and start enjoying training in one of the most dog-friendly cities in the US! 

 

10 Dog Training Tips You Need Now

 

1) Work with your dog’s attention span. If you’re training a puppy, you know that their limited attention span means you need to keep things short and fun. Even when they’ve reached adulthood, some dogs are attentive for a limited time before they get the wiggles. If you have limited time to work with your dog, it’s okay to opt for brief training sessions. You can also break your training sessions up into several smaller segments as you go through the day. Working in these short sessions may not feel like you’re doing enough, but trust me, slow and steady wins the race here! The important thing is that you’re staying consistent and teaching in a way that enables your dog to be receptive to learning.

 

2) Don’t be afraid to take a step back. Your dog has mastered a new skill and is performing it flawlessly. You move on to something new, and suddenly they’ve forgotten everything they’ve ever known. This is likely training regression where your dog may seem to forget learned skills when moving on to new tasks. There can be several possible reasons this happens. Dogs struggle to generalize behaviors across different settings, so it’s important to train in various locations and gradually introduce distractions. It’s also crucial to create a supportive training environment to set your dog up for success. Additionally, training regression could be caused by age and hormonal changes, challenges your dog finds overwhelming, medical issues, or stress. Get curious and take the time to try and identify the cause of the regression. Go back to the last successful steps in training and progress at a slower pace until your dog is ready to move forward. Lastly, addressing behavior issues may lead to a temporary increase in undesired behavior, known as an extinction burst, which is a sudden and dramatic increase in behavior. This temporary response pattern will diminish and stop when the dog’s reinforcement for that behavior has been consistently removed. If this is your challenge. Don’t panic, and dont assume what you’re doing isn’t working. You’re heading in the right direction so stick to your guns!

dog in rain coat in seattle

3) Sometimes you can blame it on the rain. Seattle isn’t known for its sunny days. Does it seem like your dog’s attention wavers in the drizzle? It could be the stress of training in wet weather. Desensitizing your dog is key, but take it one step at a time. Maybe start with light obedience training in a covered area. If they’re still hesitant, freezing up, or struggling to concentrate in the rain, it’s time for a contingency plan. Consider incorporating fun and engaging games like scent work, or indoor activities such as puzzle toys, indoor agility exercises. This can help maintain your dog’s focus and provide a productive alternative to outdoor training during wet weather.

 

4) Always have control of your dog. Of course, you expect off-leash dogs at the dog park, but what do you do if an off-leash dog is in the area while you’re training? The best and safest thing you can do is make sure your dog is leashed and that you have complete control. This will allow you to leave the area quickly if necessary and prevent any confrontations. Even if you think your dog has perfect recall, unless an area is specifically marked as off-leash, keep them leashed for everyone’s safety.  The best and safest thing you can do is make sure your dog is leashed and that you’ve made a plan to manage your dog. Prepare for the possibility of encounters with unknown, off-leash dogs by training your dog to move behind you, either in a sit or a down command. You can then use your body to block the other dog or otherwise diffuse the situation. Likewise, don’t just assume your dog has great recall skills because they can be recalled when there are little to no distractions. A perfect recall takes lots of time and hundreds of repetitions around everything your dog finds distracting or enticing, as well as in each environment you consider letting your dog off leash. If there’s even the tiniest doubt, it’s best to keep your dog on a leash for everyone’s safety

 

5) Use city living to your advantage. Living in the heart of downtown can present unique challenges when it comes to training your dog. The noise and chaos might make you feel like training is impossible, but in reality, it’s a great opportunity for training. Once you’ve laid the groundwork at home, you can begin to slowly increase the difficulty. Start by taking your training into the hall or courtyard of your apartment building. Once your dog is comfortable there, progress to the busy streets, where you can task your dog with calmly observing the commotion without needing to interact with everything. Make sure you find a spot off to the side so you can still create some distance and be prepared to advocate for your dog if someone tries to approach them. As your dog becomes more at ease in these environments, begin training with basic commands like “sit” or “down,” and work on “watch me” or focus exercises. As your dog starts getting better at working with distractions, add more challenging commands like “stay” or the “place” command. Eventually, your dog will become more relaxed and will get used to paying attention to you despite everything going on around them.

dog in seattle city

6) Pay attention to your body language. Dogs may not speak English as their first language, but they are highly attuned to body language and energy. They constantly observe and respond to the visual and energetic information you convey, from your facial expressions to subtle changes in your posture, all of which can influence how they respond to your commands. Moreover, if you’re feeling tired, impatient, or not fully focused, your dog will pick up on these cues. Have you noticed when you have stressful days, your dog tends to act up during training? This could be why. Take a few minutes to destress and get into the right training mindset so you don’t confuse your dog with mixed signals from your body language.

 

7) Make training more fun and exciting! Instead of viewing training as a chore, transform your sessions into something both you and your dog eagerly anticipate every day. Discover creative ways to infuse training with the thrill of a game. Reserve special high value treats exclusively for training to motivate your dog. Also, incorporate a personal reward that you only indulge in on training days, such as finishing your sessions with a leisurely stroll to a dog-friendly cafe. By considering training as quality bonding time with your dog, it will evolve into an exhilarating daily ritual.

 

8) Practice training daily. Don’t think of training as something you only do during your training sessions. You’re training your dog to control their impulses and cohabitate with humans. The basic cues your dog learns are meant to be used in daily life. As you start incorporating the basics into your daily life, you’ll see them evolve from mere obedience cues to instinctive behaviors for your dog. Sitting before feeding, settling down on the “place” command when you answer the door, and other obedience basics will become routine for your dog as they learn your expectations. Keep in mind that even when training transitions into solid behavior, it doesn’t mean you’re finished. Just like with our own education, if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. So, stay engaged!

 

9) Be patient with your dog and with yourself. It’s important to practice patience with both your dog and yourself. It’s not just your dog who’s learning, you’re also mastering the art of interpreting your dog’s cues and body language. There will be days when your dog is rambunctious or may appear to be stubborn, but it’s important to understand that they’re not trying to upset you; they’re simply working within their realm of understanding using the information they’ve been given. Reflect on ways you can pivot to offer more support and help them work through their barriers. We, too, have those days when we’re feeling on edge and find it hard to concentrate. You may struggle to comprehend what your dog is trying to convey through their actions, leading to moments of frustration for both of you. These are the days when it’s beneficial to keep your training sessions brief and simple. Maybe you need to take some time to decompress by taking a calming walk together or by bonding over play. Be kind with yourself and tune into the “wins,” no matter how small they may seem. This will be especially helpful during the bigger challenges you may run into… particularly when dealing with behavioral issues such as fear, anxiety, or reactivity that will likely necessitate more detailed and dedicated efforts.

dog scolding

10) If you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to consult a professional trainer.If you find you are overwhelmed by the challenges you’re encountering with your dog, there’s no shame in seeking the expertise of a professional trainer. In fact, acknowledging the reality that you may need help is a brave and proactive step. Whether your dog struggles to ignore distractions, pulls on leash, you’re dealing with behavioral issues, or you simply aren’t feeling confidence in training alone, a certified trainer can make a world of difference. Partnering with a seasoned trainer will equip you with invaluable knowledge and strategies to build a harmonious relationship, ensuring that your furry friend thrives in our human-centric world. With the empathetic, judgement free support I aim to offer, you can cultivate a well-adjusted and happy canine companion, enhancing both their life and yours. Ultimately, building a strong connection with your beloved pet and paving the way for achieving your training goals.

Cosmic Home & Pet offers one-on-one private dog training here in Seattle. Looking for a dog trainer that really listens and problem-solves alongside you? I am the dog trainer for you! Check out the Dog Training page to learn more about how we can work together.

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