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Unleash your Dog Training success: 3 game-changing strategies you can begin using today!

Updated: Jul 17, 2023


Are you looking for a dog training style that is practical to incorporate into your everyday life? Tried the mainstream styles and they just seem to be lacking something vital. Or are you ready to take your dog training game to the next level?


Today, I want to share with you three awesome strategies that I believe every dog owner should embrace in their training process. These strategies, inspired by my experience as a dog trainer, will enhance your dogs' obedience and behaviour, and strengthen the relationship between you.


a small white dog sits on her bed
Kikii the Moodle sits on her bed

Strategy 1: The Release Command


Have you ever wished you could communicate more clearly with your dog during training?


Well, introducing the Release Command is a vital step towards that clear communication!


This simple yet powerful technique teaches your dog to wait for your command before releasing themselves from a position, or before diving into doing something they are keen for. It promotes impulse control and helps set boundaries, creating a harmonious training environment.


Imagine if your dog would stay on their mat, no matter, what until you release them!

How good would it be if your dog would refrain from rushing up the stairs, down the hall, or out the gate until you ask them to go through?

How would it feel if you could take them to a cafe or bbq and they would stay in their drop until everyone is finished eating and you tell them they can go!


And, no you don’t need to control everything, just the things that are important to you, vital for their safety, or that send the right message to your particular dog.


So what is a release command?


It's simply a word that indicates they have finished. A simple concept yet very under-utilised.


Most people already get their dogs to wait before beginning their meal until the owner says a special word such as “eat” – this is a release command.

Many dog owners already get their dogs to wait at the side of the road before crossing until the walker has checked for cars, and then they say “Let’s go” or some such command – this is a release command also.


Interestingly enough, these are two things that almost every dog can do super reliably.


Why?


Because there is a clear beginning AND END to the process, and because we see the imperative to get them to do it no matter what!


Imagine if all our commands, rules, boundaries etc were this reliable. How awesome would that be? Well, it’s not that hard. All you need is a clear beginning (e.g. a command), a middle (e.g. a reinforcer), AND AN END - the release command is what most people are missing!


a small white dog sits
Kikii learning to hold her sit until released

Want to try it?


To get started, choose a specific word or phrase as your release command – I like "Free!"


I suggest you make sure to avoid words that we use a lot in general speech like “okay”, or words that sound conflicting e.g. “go” sounds too much like “no” for my taste.


Add the release commands consistently to all your commands during training sessions or everyday life, rewarding your dog for patiently waiting, and gradually increasing the duration before you say it. Then add it to some boundaries or rules around the house, such as not coming into the house or a room until invited (released!) Before you know it, you'll witness the magic of a dog who understands when it's time to unleash their inner zoomies!


Free equals freedom – now they can do whatever they like (within reason).



Strategy 2: Accountability


Dogs thrive on routine and structure, so setting clear expectations about what you do and don't want from them, and maintaining a consistent approach is vital. Communicate with your dog using positive reinforcement, rewarding good listening or behaviour, AND have a clear correction process for dealing with mistakes (that doesn’t involve using fear, intimidation, or pain).


If you only communicate what is right, they are left guessing about what they are doing that is wrong, so I always communicate clearly both sides of the coin – right and wrong – so they are super clear on both.


If you haven’t used a form of consequence before I suggest incorporating them under trainer supervision to begin with so that you know what to look for, how to communicate it clearly, and how to get from negative back to positive in a flash. I can help you with that.


Here are some of the common consequences that I incorporate:

  • A tug on the lead or collar – literally tight loose NOT tight and hold

  • Spray bottle – water only, don’t put anything in it e.g. vinegar, that’s not ok

  • Circle – walk your dog in a restrictive circle by holding their collar but don’t pull their feet up in the air


Remember not to focus on the negative – your job is to get them straight back to the positive as soon as you possibly can.


Your job, not theirs, so help them.


Be patient and remember that consistency is a marathon, not a sprint. Celebrate even the small moments and provide guidance when needed. Together, you can win this race.



Strategy 3: Repetition


Ever heard the saying, "Practice makes Perfect"? Well, in the world of dog training, it's more like "Practice makes Pawsome"!


Repetition is the key to cementing new behaviours and creating lasting habits. Make training a part of your daily routine and sprinkle it throughout the day. Whether it's practising basic commands or reinforcing day-to-day behaviours, clear and close-together repetition helps your dog understand what's expected of them.


Let’s look at an example of how this might (or might not) work:


Max walks his dog, Bella, every day, and every day they go past a house down the street that has a barking dog behind the front fence. Every day they go past that house and Bella barks when the dog behind the fence barks, and Max can tell it’s getting worse. Sometimes Bella now starts it. So, every day Max has been saying “No” when Bella barks and giving her a tug on the collar (accountability) so Bella stops barking and they move on and enjoy their walk together.


But every day they go through that same process and it’s like Bella needs to be reminded every single day.


The repetition that Bella gets by coming back past that house with the barking dog the next day is not close enough. I’d suggest that Max should walk on, just a couple of house lengths, and when Bella is quiet and the “no+tug” has done its job, he should turn and walk back past that house again straight away, getting ready to communicate with Bella again as soon as she barks. And again.


Repeat, repeat, repeat.


Giving multiple repetitions in quick succession will only take Max a little extra time and Bella will much more easily be able to see a pattern forming here. Now, that’s still no guarantee that Bella will care about Max wanting her to stop barking, but she will certainly be much clearer about what he does and does not want from her.


So how can you incorporate this?


a small white dog jumps up
Kikii jumped on me when I first arrived

Perhaps, if your dog jumps up on you when you come home, and you need to say “no” and offer a consequence – go back outside and come back in again a few times in a row, offering the same process.


Or if your dog gets off their mat command when the kids run past and you have to march him back, ask the kids to run past again. And perhaps again.


So, you're now armed with three essential strategies that could revolutionize your training process!


By incorporating the release command, fostering accountability, and embracing repetition, you're on your way to creating a well-behaved canine companion.


Now it's over to you. Give these strategies a go, tailoring them to fit your situation and training goals. Be consistent, be patient, and watch as your fur friend blossoms into the well-rounded companion you've always dreamed of.





Not sure what to hold your dog accountable for? Grab my Bossy Dog Checklist today and start improving your relationship with your dog.



About A New Leash on Life Dog Training


a lady with three dogs
Zander, Keryn, Jaffa & Miki

Because I use a balanced approach to dog training if you choose to train with me, we will be using positive reinforcement and rewards, but we will not be using food. I prefer not to rely on food because I don’t want to take food with me every place I ever go, I don’t want my dogs to learn to ignore me if I have no food or run out, and I don’t want to end up in a situation where I might still be of less importance to my dog, even with food, than the dog he's playing with or bird he’s chasing etc. Additionally, I do use the word no, and I do teach a consequence process for ignoring me or for an unacceptable behavioural choice, but without resorting to fear, intimidation, or pain.


So, for me, I train my dogs the way that I feel aligns with my belief system – rewards for listening and good behaviour but without food reliance – consequences without violence for inappropriate choices.


What do you believe in?


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