Aggressive dogs, barking, jumping, biting, growling, potty accidents, begging, digging, chewing… Sounds familiar? These are just some of the problems facing a typical dog owner.
How do you stop them? Can you stop them? Where do you go? No worries. I will give you more than one solution!
Dogs have always been my best friends. I am blessed to have shared my life with five dogs so far: two medium black poodles, an English Cocker, a chocolate Lab, and a gray mutt, whatever he is 🙂 I like big mutts and I cannot lie…
Most of them I had without knowing the first thing about dog behavior training. So I can say that I was very fortunate with their personalities and relatively small headaches they caused me. But maybe you weren’t so lucky 🙁
Here is what I will cover for you:
- Why it’s important to train your dog
- Specialized dog training
- Dog training methods
- Which training method is better?
- How I selected these training programs
- My Top Best Online Dog Training Courses
- BONUS – Honorable mentions
Why it’s important to train your dog
It is human nature to seek pleasure and avoid pain. The reason you got a dog was probably for pleasure. Yet here you are, trying to stop the pain! That’s why you’re here, isn’t it? However, there are many more reasons why you need to learn how to raise your puppy properly or why you must train your dog ASAP!
- Safety – A disobedient out of control dog is a major hazard to himself, you, your family, and everyone else. I don’t want to get all dark and heavy right from the start. I’ll only mention costs and liability and assume there’s no need to belabor this point.
- Physical Benefits – If you could take your dog with you when you’re going jogging or biking, that would be extremely beneficial for his health! Regular exercise prevents dogs from developing anxiety and other stress-related behaviors like barking, growling, or chewing destructively. Habitual physical activity keeps the virtuous circle going.
- Mental Balance – Similar to the point before. That same stress can cause all kinds of emotional problems that get expressed as behavioral issues.
- Social Interactions – Dogs are like people and some are more social than others. A well-trained dog can deal with all types of interactions with people and other dogs better. This will, in turn, make those around them more relaxed, and this will, in turn, make both yours and your dog’s life much easier.
- Traveling and Boarding – When you travel, you may need to either bring your pooch with you or leave them with a friend or at a reputable kennel. This is where their level of social skills comes into play again. A well-trained dog should be able to obey commands given by their temporary humans in charge.
- Avoiding Problem Behaviors – Dogs live in our world and they face numerous challenging situations on a daily basis. An unprepared dog can exhibit negative behaviors in response to what to us may seem like perfectly normal scenarios: crossing the street, kids running around, or as simple as someone reaching out to pet them.
- Building Strong Relationships – The best human relationships are based on trust and this is true with dogs as well. Dogs whose owners don’t rule by fear behave much more predictably and are more self-controlled.
- Loyalty – These furry canines will spend their whole lives with you. It is undoubtedly beneficial and rewarding for everyone involved to get to know each other well. This will strengthen your bond and help you both live a longer stress-free life.
Specialized dog training
Many dogs have jobs in law enforcement, search and rescue, military, or working with other animals. They can also be trained to assist those with physical or developmental disabilities. Here are just some out of hundreds of tasks that dogs can perform to help humans in need:
- Home assistance: retrieving items, opening/closing doors and drawers, turning lights on and off, bringing mail, taking out the garbage
- Medical tasks: seizures, medications, phones, wheelchairs, alerts, carrying
- Visual assistance: leading, avoiding, alerting
- Hearing assistance: alerting to all types of sounds
- Mobility: assisting up and down, bracing, pushing, pulling
- Psychiatric problems: alerting, interrupting, retrieving
Dogs that can perform these tasks have all been trained using standard methods that I will be covering next. The main difference is that their training strongly focused on learning those particular tasks. They were also carefully selected from the litter and went through a rigorous selection process before their training got underway.
With that in mind, here’s a word of caution. Even if you master any of the training courses that I will recommend, please don’t expect to be able to reliably train a dog to perform such life-critical tasks. If you require a dog that can perform these types of services, don’t mess around and search for specialized dog trainers.
For the purposes of this article, I will focus on everyday dog behavior essentials that all dog owners should master.
Dog training methods
No question – dogs are pack animals! This fact has been the basis of dog training for thousands of years. But things have been changing recently.
To give you some perspective, it was only back in 1932 that a journal from the Harvard Medical Group wrote about successfully using enemas for patients with a bipolar disorder! Yikes! I’d say we’ve come a long way in that department in a short time. LOL So why not finally change how we treat and train our best friends?
There are more than a handful of training methods and just as many variations.
Main methods that are used in these courses are:
- Dominance Training
- Positive Reinforcement
- Clicker Training
- Scientific Training
Overall, these and other methods (and trainers) can be grouped into three categories:
- Traditional Dog Training
- Modern Dog Training
- Balanced Dog Training
Try to do your online research to figure out which method is better and you may quickly regret it! You’ll find yourself in forums and comment threads of heated debates and arguments that rival only the most polarized political discussions!
If you’ve seen Cesar “The Dog Whisperer” Millan, you would probably guess correctly that he is a traditional-style trainer. How he deals with dogs is not so bad. It sure is far from the harshest version of this oldest method, used since the dawn of human-and-dogs time. It is based on a wolf pack’s alpha-dog dominance and uses correction, punishment, and manipulation.
Modern style is based on newer “science-based” techniques. It involves plenty of teaching, giving cues, tons of positive reinforcement, and ideally zero correction (punishment). Not that the traditional method is not based on science (experience). It’s just that the modern method has gone further or deeper if you will. They’ve taken more time and patience to understand the underlying forces of dogs’ behaviors and play into those rather than coerce the desired outcome.
Balanced dog training is a kind of a cross-over between the two. It is unlikely that you will find any modern trainers going in the traditional direction. However, many old-school trainers are changing their ways, though some are not doing it completely. After all, many old methods have been proven over time and it’s hard to give them up, not to mention unlearn.
But as is the case with many old and established ways of doing, being, and thinking, this tide is turning.
Which training method is better?
Remember that even if you were to send your dog to training camp and have someone do all the grunt work of teaching, you would still be the one who has to apply all that on a regular basis for many years to come!
The first question to ask then is which method is better for you – and also what might work for your dog. It really depends on your personality. And by that I mean what you’re actually like, how you will behave, and not how you think or would like to behave.
If you’re a parent, I’m sure you have at least an inkling of what I’m talking about. It’s that difference between how you raised your kids vs. how you thought you were going to be raising them – whether you were just like your parents or did the very opposite.
If your parents or grandparents used old-world upbringing methods on you, you know first-hand (pardon the pun) what the downsides are. My parents were somewhat traditional and my dad’s capital punishment was only used when well deserved – I am clear on that now LOL But he was very supportive otherwise. And I respected that. Speak softly and carry a big stick. I am certain that those few physically painful experiences made little difference in my character development.
On the other hand, my mom used lots of regular punishment and not enough reward. That has certainly affected me, for example in how unnatural it is for me it is to give a compliment. I had to train myself to remember to do it! But luckily, my overall positive personality and strong enough self-esteem have prevailed and I grew up to be a very likable human being.
What I’m saying is that just like with humans, different methods may produce different results with different dogs. Too much punishment on a sensitive dog may create a scaredy cat. Similarly, too much punishment on a tough dog may induce additional friction and aggression.
Same as with parenting, a common argument for the traditional methods is that they give fast results and are relatively simpler to implement – most folks will find it easier to take some action when needed than to be patient, do nothing, and let it go.
Whichever training style you choose for your dog or puppy training, it’s crucial to remember the following. If you are not able to consistently control the consequences to your dog’s behavior, your training will not be effective. Whatever you choose, you and the dog’s immediate family need to be able to stick with the plan. It’s in everybody’s best interests.
How I selected these training programs
In describing all these major issues with dog training, I have covered some of the most important reasoning behind my selection. Obviously, I did look at the price, what you get for your money, customer satisfaction, and trainer qualifications.
I am guilty as charged of using traditional methods on my first four dogs, especially the chocolate Labrador Yogi. He was super-friendly but also the liveliest and largest, so we butted heads the most! He lived a great life, made lots of people happy, and he knew how much we loved him. However, it is painfully clear that so much could have and should have been done differently. That would have made our lives way better and certainly easier.
So, based on major research as well as my personal experience, I CANNOT wholeheartedly recommend any method that is full-on traditional.
Call me old school, though. I’d still be OK if an occasional “correction” was applied as needed. LOL But maybe you would never be! So, with that in mind, you’ll find a bit of both in the choices that follow.
My Top Online Dog Training Course Picks
The Online Dog Trainer
Doggy Dan’s Online Dog Trainer is one of the best known and best-selling dog training courses online. He has helped tens of thousands of dog owners train their dogs easily and effectively.
There are many reasons why Doggy Dan’s training is one of the best-selling programs. The bang for the buck ratio is incredible as is his material. He covers all the topics that you as a dog owner might run into.
- In the Pack Leader section, you get to know his Five Golden Rules.
- His excellent Puppy Training covers health, meeting the world, basic commands, and common behavioral issues. The issues include toilet training, barking, mouthing, chewing, stealing, digging and more.
- Project Moses gives you an over-the-shoulder view of him training his own puppy, from the age of eight weeks up until eight months. There’s a lot to learn from that: chewing, greeting visitors, desensitizing your puppy to noise and numerous others situations.
- Dog Problems covers just about every typical specific problem you can think of: aggression, barking, hyperactivity, jumping, fears, leash-pulling, not coming when called, and more. Each of those topics is further broken down into, for example, barking when left alone, barking in the car, barking at the door, and so on.
- In Dog Training he gets very detailed in other topics: nature and language of dogs, packs, rewards, command training, families, parenting, etc.
- In the Everyday Tools and Techniques, Dan covers essentials such as stop-start change, long line, short line, calm freeze and more.
- Last, but not least, his Forum is a perfect meeting point where you can discuss all of these subjects in depth, ask questions, or simply read hundreds of posts that delve even deeper and can help you clarify any questions you may have.
Doggy Dan (Dan Abdelnoor) is from New Zealand. He is a member of the APDT, the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. He has been in the dog behavior and training business since 2006. He is educated in Canine Psychology and Behaviour, as well as Advanced Aggression by the Canine Behavior Centre in Cumbria, UK. In addition, he holds advanced certificates from the world-renowned Jan Ferell, the “Dog Listener.”
His Online Dog Trainer course is endorsed by the New Zealand SPCA.
Videos are well organized and the forum is easy to navigate on desktop or mobile. The whole membership area has always been a breeze. But the site has been completely overhauled and redesigned in May 2018. Now the design is more modern and even more streamlined than it was before.
This is one of the great features of Dan’s website. Not only is monthly membership inexpensive, but once you’re in and see the value, you’ll be able to save even more by paying a number of months in advance.
There is always an excellent incentive for new customers. Right now, you can test-drive the whole site for three days for only $1. I don’t know if that’s something they will have forever, but it’s been like that since the redesign.
There’s no question that this training provides amazing value and serves a huge pool of knowledge. Customer reviews regularly mention “best program ever”, “best training ever” and how the program “helped in real-life situations.”
This is balanced dog training. You may run into some videos that may not be up your alley such as the ones that talk about ignoring your dog after separation, maybe food control, or some of the correctional ones. But that being said, Dan’s approach is for the most part still force-free. Hardly too old-school to avoid.
His course has some unique topics such as the body language of dogs. Most notably, his coverage of puppy training is huge as it comprises two whole sections.
Dan’s Online Dog Trainer is a course with an amazing track record and a truly easy way to get started. In fact, at the moment you can take a FREE Obedience Course as well as a FREE Potty Training Course. I can’t think of any ways to make this simpler for you. So there’s absolutely no reason not to try it out.
Brain Training for Dogs
This truly unique course is designed to help you train your dog and eliminate dog’s bad behaviors, same as pretty much any other course. But this one is truly science-based and takes advantage of dogs’ hidden intelligence.
Ten years in the making, this technology is quite original in its approach. If you’ve heard of doctors Joseph Mercola or Bruce Lipton, you know that they often talk about neuroplasticity. This is our brain’s ability to be molded and changed like plastic in order to learn new habits and behaviors. Well, as it turns out, a dog’s brain works the same way!
This is all very similar to the way us humans can replace negative ways of thinking with positive ones. As we’re shedding our ego, we break free from slavery to our negative emotions and our automatic reactions to external stimuli in our lives. Along those lines.
These new techniques help your dog’s brain become more open and receptive to learning new information. Their bad behaviors can fade away while more desirable ones appear in their place. The result will be that your dog will start listening to you and understand what you’re telling him.
The whole training consists of lessons and games. Overall, it is organized in levels similar to the American education system. Within each of those levels, you will find training and games that gradually get more difficult and teach your dog new skills.
All the lessons are organized as:
- Introduction – requirements and objective
- How to Train – step-by-step instructions
- Troubleshooting Problems – how to overcome any issues
- Increasing the Challenge – reinforce the behavior
- The Exam – test your dog’s skills
But before you get started, you need to go through Obedience 101. These are the basic building block abilities that will be used in the brain games later. Some of what that your dog will learn there is how to:
- Lie down
- Drop it
- Leave it / Take it
The main learning area is broken down into seven modules. As you and your dog make your way through the program, the games and exercises become more challenging.
- Preschool – This is the very easy stuff, the foundation level. It will teach your dog to tap into his brain power and become obedient to your commands.
- Elementary School – The easy level. Now it’s time to improve your dog’s skills and have him use his own senses to obey your commands.
- High School – On this intermediate level, you will teach your dog about patience and impulse control.
- College level would be graded as difficult. This is where your dog develops motor skills and the ability to concentrate on your commands.
- University level, like in real life, is very difficult. Here, you will develop your dog’s patience and intelligence. You will be helping him become a better-behaved dog by helping him deal with his impulse control.
- Graduation level is for expert canines (and owners). Your dog will develop advanced motor skills and intelligence so he can fully obey your commands.
- Einstein is the final genius level. Go through it if you’d like to impress your friends with your dog’s ability to clean up his toys, stack rings, or even play the piano!
In addition to the core training, you will get:
- Trick Training Videos (seven more like roll over and play dead)
- Polishing Up Training (additional obedience tactics)
- Adrienne’s Archive (tons of articles and a puppy training section)
- Forum where members can discuss dog training
I should remind you that this is a reward-based training program so you will need appropriate treats to use with your dog. A clicker would be very useful, though you can use voice commands, which is recommended.
Adrienne Farricelli is a professional CPDT-KA certified dog trainer from Arizona. That stands for Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed. This is not just an abbreviation – this certificate requires over 300 hours of experience in dog training and passing a rigorous exam. It’s issued by the US-based Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT), the leading independent certifying organization for the dog training profession. Adrienne holds similar Italian certificates as well.
She’s been published in USA Today, Every Dog magazine and other pet publications, and she’s written for online expert websites such as eHow.
There are no recurring memberships to be paid. It’s an affordable one-time payment and you’re good to go. That makes it really simple to gauge that you get plenty for your money. Other courses give you much more material, but you do end up paying more. So you’ll need to find your own balance here.
This should be your top choice if you like the whole idea of getting to know how your dog’s brain works and the 100% force-free approach. As far as the amount of material goes, I would prefer to pay more and get even more. Most of the education is in a PDF but all brain training games are demonstrated in videos.
I also wasn’t crazy about the quality of the videos. But that’s just me. Everything is still presented step-by-step and you will not miss learning anything because of it.
That being said, this program delivers, no doubt! You will get everything you need to transform the intelligence and behavior of your dog.
Brain Training for Dogs comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee. So it’s risk-free! If you pick this program, you can’t go wrong.
You know, when I set out to compare all these courses, I thought there would be a gazillion choices. But after the first narrowing down process, I only ended up with 4-5 major contenders. I did also find some interesting options that are more advanced that I will mention shortly. But once I started digging deeper and compared them all, only these two survived. The rest were just not that good so I nixed them. And actually, they weren’t even necessary.
As far as your basic pooch training goes, these two really are the best of the best. I’ve already explained the differences in training style, so if you want to go absolutely force-free, go with Brain Training. However, Dan’s training has very few some old-school elements in it and would be my preferred choice.
When it comes to price, Dan’s courses would end up costing you more because of the monthly membership. I doubt you can go through everything in one month. I guess you could if you have all day to watch videos. And you’d need to make a lot of notes because next month you would no longer have access. But with Dan, you get so much more for the money! And that’s a major selling point for me.
Hey – maybe go with Dan for a month, soak up as much as you can, and then buy Adrienne’s course!? Anyway, I gave you the facts, you’ll have to make the decision yourself.
BONUS – Honorable mentions
Last but not least, here are three trainers that offer some more specialized courses. Most of this goes far beyond the basics that you were looking for, but the finds were just too good and interesting not to be shared with you.
Karen Pryor is often credited with inventing the clicker training technique. She was originally a dolphin trainer. After years of using positive reinforcement in teaching marine mammals, she was so excited by the success of it that she decided to try and apply these same concepts to training dogs.
In the Clicker Training shop, you can find all types of dog products, most notably clickers and treats that you will most likely need when you start training your own dog. There are also premium courses such as Dog Trainer Foundations that can be used both by aspiring trainers and dog owners alike.
Daisy Peel is a well-known leading instructor and competitor in the dog agility sport. She has won numerous national and international competitions both individually or representing the US.
Find out more about this exciting sport on her website. While you’re there, make sure to visit the Courses section to see everything that’s available, and don’t miss the Free Resources.
Dog Show Academy
Allison Foley handled her first poodle in a dog show when she was only seven years old. She’s been a professional dog handler for over 30 years. She is now the President of the Canadian Professional Dog Handlers Association (CPHA), the VP of the Canadian Kennel Club Foundation, and the Junior Handling Representative for the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) in Nova Scotia.
On her Leading Edge Dog Show Academy on Teachable, she has 35 different courses about dog show grooming, junior handling, and dog show handling for adults. These courses can be purchased separately or at great savings, subscribed to on a monthly basis.
I have to run now, I have a dentist appointment. One of my canines is bothering me. I hope my lab reports come back OK 🙂