Laying a solid training foundation will make life with your dog easier and more fun. If you’re not sure where to start, sign up for an in-person obedience class; there’s no better way to train your dog than to practice with an expert IRL. You can also follow any of the helpful links above, and check out our blog archives for additional tips and tricks.

Learned helplessness occurs when a dog ceases to respond in a situation where it has no option to avoid a negative event. For learned helplessness to occur, the event must be both traumatic and outside the dog's control.[51] Family dogs that are exposed to unpredictable or uncontrolled punishment are at risk of developing disturbances associated with the learned helplessness disorder. Punishment which is poorly coordinated with identifiable avoidance cues or response options, such as when punishment takes place long after the event, meet the criteria of inescapable trauma.[41]


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Did you know there are five kinds of barking? Professor Donaldson examines the various reasons dogs bark and provides suggestions to train your dog out of this behavior. She also explains why this is one of the more frustrating areas to train, but by understanding the motivation for barking and applying consistent methods, you can more effectively and efficiently learn to work with ways to stop it. x

For the first few sessions, pick a room in the house that’s large enough to move around. When your dog figures out what you want him to do, take your training lessons outside, preferably to a fenced-in area, or keep him on a leash when you are in an unfenced area. Distractions will vie for your puppy’s attention, so you’ll need to become more interesting than the street noise, a fast-moving squirrel, or the scent of newly mowed grass.
The 1980 television series Training Dogs the Woodhouse Way made Barbara Woodhouse a household name in the UK, and the first international celebrity dog trainer.[25] Known for her "no bad dogs" philosophy, Woodhouse was highly critical of "bad owners", particularly those she saw as "overly sentimental".[26] She described the "psychoanalyzing of dogs" as "a lot of rubbish".[27] Her no-nonsense style made her a pop-culture icon, with her emphatic "sit" and catch cry of "walkies" becoming part of the popular vernacular.[28]
Once your dog can stay in a sit for several seconds, you can begin adding distance. Place him in a sit and say “stay,” take one step back, then step back to the pup, give a treat, and your release word. Continue building in steps, keeping it easy enough that your dog can stay successful. Practice both facing him and walking away with your back turned (which is more realistic).
With dog training equipment from PetSmart, you'll be able to crate train your pup more easily. Our supplies and help with dog obedience and housetraining by rewarding him for good behavior. Teach him to love his crate and have good manners indoors and out. You'll be amazed at what your dog can do! Browse all of our dog training equipment and supplies.
Once home, take him to his toileting area immediately and spend a good amount of time with him so he will get used to the area and relieve himself. Even if your dog does relieve himself during this time, be prepared for accidents. Coming into a new home with new people, new smells and new sounds can throw even the most housebroken dog off-track, so be ready just in case. Need more housetraining tips? Check out our Dog Housetraining section.

The benefits from learning from a trainer of trainers are numerous. Rather than focusing on one training method and hoping for the best, Professor Donaldson has worked with numerous approaches, so she is well aware of the frustrations and concerns that come with the trendy training methods—especially since many of them are based on old “pack status” assumptions that have been debunked. Instead, Professor Donaldson has honed a data-driven technique that has been validated by current behavior science. By taking a holistic approach and grounding her methodology in current research around how dogs think and react, you get a unique and accessible approach that works for both you and your dog.
Changing behavior takes time. You need to have realistic expectations about changing your dog’s behavior as well as how long it will take to change behaviors that you don’t like. Often behaviors which are “normal” doggie behaviors will take the most time such as barking, digging and jumping. You also need to consider how long your dog has rehearsed the behavior. For example, if you didn’t mind that your dog jumped up on people to say hi for the last seven years and now you decide that you don’t want him to do that anymore, that behavior will take a much longer time to undo than if you had addressed it when he was a pup. Remember it’s never too late to change the behavior some will just take longer than others.

2. Be patient. Whether you’re just getting started or working on complex behaviors, your dog is going to make mistakes. Whoever said “patience is a virtue” very well could have been talking about dog training! If, during training, you find yourself (or your dog) becoming frustrated, take a break. Training is a marathon, not a sprint – no need to rush through it!
The 1980 television series Training Dogs the Woodhouse Way made Barbara Woodhouse a household name in the UK, and the first international celebrity dog trainer.[25] Known for her "no bad dogs" philosophy, Woodhouse was highly critical of "bad owners", particularly those she saw as "overly sentimental".[26] She described the "psychoanalyzing of dogs" as "a lot of rubbish".[27] Her no-nonsense style made her a pop-culture icon, with her emphatic "sit" and catch cry of "walkies" becoming part of the popular vernacular.[28]
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Marian Breland Bailey played a major role in developing empirically validated and humane animal training methods and in promoting their widespread implementation.[12] Marian was a graduate student under B.F. Skinner. Her first husband Keller Breland also came to study with Skinner and they collaborated with him, training pigeons to guide bombs. The Brelands saw the commercial possibilities of operant training, founding Animal Behavior Enterprises (ABE). In 1955, they opened the "I.Q. Zoo" as both a training facility and a showcase of trained animals. They were among the first to use trained animals in television commercials, and the first to train dolphins and whales as entertainment, as well as for the navy.[12] Keller died in 1965, and in 1976 Marian married Bob Bailey, who had been director of marine mammal training for the navy. They pioneered the use of the clicker as a conditioned reinforcer for training animals at a distance.[11] ABE went on to train thousands of animals of more than 140 species.[12] Their work had significant public exposure through press coverage of ABE-trained animals, bringing the principles of behavior analysis and operant conditioning to a wide audience.[13]
Ask your dog to sit. Then say “Stay” and start backing away slowly. As you take a step back and the dog stays in a sitting position, toss it a treat. Set your standards low at first: toss the treat after one step back for several repetitions, then after two steps back, and so forth. It will probably take many, many practice sessions, but soon you will be able to walk into another room and the dog will still be sitting patiently.

Handler should be heeling their dog when he or she calls this command; the handler will then stop, face the dog, tell it to stand, while touching it in the flank area. It may be necessary to hold the dog at first or put the leash under its groin area and hold it up. (The leash is a safe for comfortable way for dogs that are shy about their groin or bellies.) Count to 10; call exercise finish.
Researchers have described several reasons why the dominance model is a poor choice for dog training.[71] First, a relationship based on dominance is established to gain priority access to scarce resources, not to impose particular behaviors on the less dominant animal,[72] so the dominance model is irrelevant for most of the behaviors that people want from their dogs, such as coming when called or walking calmly on a leash.[71] Second dominance-submission relationships, once established, are constantly tested and must be regularly reinforced.[73] Thus people, particularly children and the elderly, may not be able to retain their rank and are at risk of being injured if they attempt to do so.[71] Third, dominant individuals gain priority access to resources, but only while they are present, establishing dominance over a dog does not guarantee its behavior when the dominant individual is distant or absent.[71]
Discourage him from biting or nipping. Instead of scolding him, a great way to put off your mouthy canine is to pretend that you're in great pain when he's biting or nipping you. He'll be so surprised he's likely to stop immediately. If this doesn't work, try trading a chew toy for your hand or pant leg. The swap trick also works when he's into your favorite shoes. He'll prefer a toy or bone anyway. If all else fails, break up the biting behavior, and then just ignore him.

Many owners wonder if they should enlist the help of a professional dog trainer. Enrolling in a training class with your dog is often a great way to begin the training process, but it’s important not to rely on the trainer to teach your dog. A trainer’s job is primarily to teach the owner how to train the animal. By learning how to train your dog yourself, you can take the training home with you and better connect with your pet.
When you adopt a puppy or dog from a shelter, he comes with a history — not the least of which is being relinquished to the shelter. Keep in mind that the stress of this, along with whatever the dog has experienced in his past, can make him less than confident in new surroundings. Plan on giving him some time to adjust to his new home and family. Dogs can take anywhere from a few hours to several months to get used to living in a new place. During this adjustment time, do what you can to make your new dog feel safe and comfortable. Be patient while he adjusts, but also try to keep things consistent and predictable in his new environment.
It’s a good idea to give him some small treats as rewards for training. You can use soft commercial food treats sized for puppies, pieces of string cheese, or small pieces of cut-up hot dog that he can swallow right away. Avoid hard, crunchy treats because they take a while to chew. Give treats to your puppy immediately—within half a second of him completing the desired behavior. The faster you confirm the behavior you want, the easier it is for your puppy to understand what you’re trying to teach him. When you give the reward, follow it up by saying “Good boy!”
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