Dr Yin’s Top 10 Dog Training Tips

13 | Posted:

By Dr Sophia Yin

Have you ever gone to a dog training class or taken a private lesson and left with your head swimming?  With so much information, the main messages can sometimes get lost among the more intricate details.  Here are some take-home messages that I use to guide my every-day interaction with my patients as well as my own pets.

1. Every interaction you have with the animal is a training session. So it’s important to be aware of what you may be doing to reward inappropriate behaviors throughout the day especially when you are not having planned training sessions.

2. Animals care about your body language and actions more than your words. Consequently, you should focus on the messages your body is giving, pay attention to your pet’s response, and cut down on the words you use.

3. Animals perform behaviors that have been reinforced. In order to change behavior it’s important to reinforce desired behaviors, but we also have to remove reinforcers or motivators for unwanted behaviors.

4. Training is a skill like playing tennis, dancing or playing the piano. Little variations in how you move and on the timing of the movements and rewards make a big difference in whether you can communicate your intentions to your pet. If you’re not getting good results, find someone who can better instruct you on the intricacies of making the change.

5. Positive reinforcement is not just about giving treats for good behavior, it’s about moving and performing the exercises in a manner and speed that make it fun. It’s also about using everything your pet likes or wants, to your advantage—toys, petting, attention, access to go outside or come in, fetch….. and more.

6. The goal of training is to make behaving well fun for the pet. Dogs are more likely to behave well when good behavior is fun.

7. The walk is not a time for your dog to blow you off and do his own thing, rather it’s a time for you to bond with your dog and have fun. Practice exercises during your walk where your dog focuses on you as if you’re playing games. The goal is that the walk becomes like an enjoyable conversation.

8. Dogs, cats, horses and other pets need exercise every day. For dogs, walks provide not only exercise but they are crucial for continued socialization to people, new environments, and other pets.

9. Throw your dog’s food bowl away. Animals in the wild spend hours searching for food. They are hardwired to enjoy this behavior and studies show that given a choice, all species studied prefer to work for their food once they know how to rather than getting it for free. The best way to use food as entertainment and enrichment for the pet is to use it in training and games when you’re home as this provides both food and structured interactions with you. You can also place food in toys and puzzles made specifically for such purposes of entertaining your pet.

10. Make sure your pet is healthy and on a balanced diet. Dogs should have annual veterinary check-ups. For information on balanced diets, visit the American Society of Veterinary Nutritionists at http://www.acvn.org


Download Dr Yin’s Top 10 Dog Training Tips as a handout to give to clients and friends.

What important training tips do you give to clients?  Share them here!


Find out how to implement these tips into your training with this book!


Tags: , , , ,

13 responses to “Dr Yin’s Top 10 Dog Training Tips

  1. Love your tip, “Throw away your pet’s food bowl.” We hide our dog Sydney’s food after making him “Wait.” When we say, “Find it” he has a treasure hunt of bite-sized pieces to hunt, up and downstairs. He loves this game. We also add other training fun to his meals.

    1. But how do you make the distinction between HIS food and OUR food?
      Ex. Food on the coffee table ( his height)

  2. When I was still teaching obedience classes, many clients would come up to me before class and say, “we just didn’t have time to practice this week.” I began teaching “Kitchen Training.” Basically, the concept that every action and interaction is a piece of the practice/training. So, you go to the kitchen and Rover follows you. You say, “Rover, Sit!” Rover does and you click and treat, use a cue such as “Yes!” and treat. The idea being you let Rover know that you’re happy with what he’s done. Do it 5 times and you have about 5 min. of your training time done for the day. Next session could be in a few minutes or a few hours. “Catch” Rover lying quietly on his bed? Good bed, Rover! or Good down, etc. Click and treat that behavior a few times and there’s another 3-5 minutes.

    Clients were usually much more likely to practice during the week when they knew rewarding wanted behavior could occur wherever they were, instead of thinking they had to come home from work and put in a straight 30 min. training their dog grin

  3. This article really reinforced this concept for me because, my little dog eats breakfast every morning with me . She absolutely loves chasing and hunting for her breakfast. I throw it and she chases and finds it. This may sound silly to some,yet she loves it .

  4. I loved these tips and the way they are explained! They are things I often try to relay to my clients. Could you provide links or names of the studies referenced in #9?

  5. Love your tip, “Throw away your pet’s food bowl.” We hide our dog Sydney’s food after making him “Wait.” When we say, “Find it” he has a treasure hunt of bite-sized pieces to hunt, up and downstairs. He loves this game. We also add other training fun to his meals.

  6. This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading this post reminds me of my previous room mate! He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this page to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

  7. Great post! I am a dog trainer and this information has been helpful for the specific requests of one of my clients. Glad to see this kind of good info is widely available on the web!! Thank You!!

  8. great post !! Here are the puppy training tips that when you use it will allow you to train your dog in the perfect way possible.

    • Always note that a puppy is an infant dog.

    When you understand that a puppy in an infant dog then this will lower your expectations. Also at times adjust your expectations as you consider its physical and mental limitations.

    • You need to understand that Puppies were not being born understanding English.

    This is where you always need to show a puppy what to do and not command him to do that.

    • Learn the Dogs Body Language.

    Most of the dogs do communicate through body language cause they do not talk. Thus if you want to understand what your puppy needs then you need to understand the body language of the dog.

  9. I liked that you pointed out that you will want to have a goal in mind when it comes to training your dog. That is great for me to understand because I want to get a German Shepherd puppy. I want him to be a really good guard dog who will help keep me safe. So, I will have to keep that in mind while training him. I wonder how you would go about training dogs to be in films. It seems like you would need to get them to do a few different things all at once.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *