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When we want to know “how to train a dog”, the first port of call is often to seek out help from dog training experts who run dog-training classes.  We may go through the process of researching the best dog trainer via Google, Facebook or ask the vet or friends for recommendations.

Whilst I have nothing against dog or puppy training classes (as they help many people with the basics) most of the foundations of training can take place in the home. After all, training your dog at home is where you are both most relaxed and to add, it is free!

Think to yourself, what is it you would like your dog to know? Would you like to teach your dog to walk to heel, to be relaxed around strangers, to not become anxious or aggressive towards other dogs? If it is any of these then all lessons start as soon as you wake up in the morning.


In a training class there may be too many distractions around to be able to communicate with your dog effectively. The first and most vital lesson to begin any training is that you and your dog are calm before moving on.

If you want to teach your dog to walk to heel, you can begin by practicing in the home with manoeuvres which you will do outside on the walk such as stopping, speeding up and slowing down.

If the dog pulls you too much in the home, then take the lead off and try again once they are calm. This way there is no need for you or the dog to become panicked. Plus the dog learns a consequence of action and they will understand that it was not wise to pull you. Overtime you can develop your communication and bond together before moving on.

If your dog is excited around you or visitors, again in the home you have full control of the situation whereas outside it can become more of a challenge. In this scenario if your dog jumps up or becomes a nuisance, think of the first lesson of dog training, you and your dog must be calm.

So how can you achieve this? In this situation you could ask your visitors to ignore the dog unless they actually want the dog to come over. Your dog will likely get the message if they are ignored they have not been asked to come over.  If the dog ignores the body language and becomes erratic, then you can isolate them so they calm down. Once they are calm you can allow them to re-join and repeat the process so they learn a consequence of their actions.

Foundations are everything

If you want your dog to be calm around other dogs, then this is unlikely that you can teach them in the home. However once the dog listens to you in the home on the lead and understands not to approach you or visitors (unless they are invited). It means you have the foundations of them listening to you and makes other issues that much easier to address.

When meeting other dogs, if your dog becomes over excited, walk in the opposite direction until they calm down. Once they calm, walk back near the other dog. This will keep interrupting their patterns of behaviour. Once they finally learn that pulling and getting over excited does not get them anywhere and co-operation and being calm does, then they would have learned a correct response.

Again meeting dogs in a dog training class again may be too much for them. So to summarise for dog training tips no.1 – get the foundations in by making sure your dog is calm in the home before moving on to training classes.

Contact a member of our dog behavioural and training team in London now at

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