The “How” of Dog Training…an Important Training Tip

Written by Written by Maria Stouffer, CPDT

Training Director at Playful Pups Retreat and owner of Full Potential Dog Training

dog learning hand signalsAs dog training professionals at Playful Pups Retreat, we are often presented with questions that start with “How.” “How” do I get my dog to stop barking at people or other dogs?” “How do I get my dog to listen to me the first time I speak?”  “How do I stop leash pulling?” In the continuation of our A to Z Day Training series on training we are discussing the “How” of Dog Training!

dog learning how to stayThe answer to all these questions and the many others out there… “How do I (fill in the blank)” is simple…professional dog training, such as that offered in our A to Z Day Training Program offered at our Hershey Road location or our intensive 2 week Stay & Train Program which is available at our Milton Grove Road location.

Not all dog training is equal and not everyone has the same problems or challenges.  However, trends with dogs, just like people, are common and when a person is educated in dog training, they are educated on the common trends in the dog training world that most people are dealing with.  Some educated trainers that specialize in certain behaviors, such as separation anxiety or guarding, have even more practical knowledge or frequent practice in those areas.  The one important thing to understand is the cornerstone to all positive dog behavior is fundamental basic training.

dogs learning signal to shakeWhen teaching and training the basic behaviors, it helps to know that there are different levels of dog training.  If we try to teach the dog something above what they are ready for, we will fail.  When I teach my Puppy Manners Class, as well as when I design a puppy protocol training plan in my private training business, I start by teaching the dogs a command, the response expected, and a hand signal to go along with the verbal command.  All the trainers at Playful Pups Retreat follow the same protocol when building foundational commands.  It is crucial not to push the dog past what they can be successful with.  All dog training commands are taught singularly and the goal would be to get a positive response from the dog 5 times in a row.  At that point we can move on to the next command.  In the beginning of any training protocol all commands are taught inside with little or no distractions, just one-on-one focus with the dog.

The second level of training is done once the dog can successfully perform the commands asked with no distractions.  Now we add in some inside distractions, such as dogs or people coming into the training space, and then we work on keeping the dogs focus on the trainer.

Once the dog has mastered the second level of training and has learned to keep its focus under minimal distractions, we then feel comfortable taking the training outside and introducing more difficult distractions.  However, the training and distractions need to be controlled by the dog trainer at first.  We always want to set every dog up to succeed, and being in control of how much the dog is exposed to, keeps the chances of that high.

All the training programs at Playful Pups Retreat, including our A to Z Day Training, are designed to follow the dog training practice of increasing levels which will help each dog have a lifetime of training success!  Please check out our training page at for more information and to get registered. We are excited to be a part of your dog’s training journey!