Training Tips

The concept of “a tired dog is a good dog” has truth to it...until he/she becomes over tired! Puppies and dogs tend to make poor decisions, show a reduction in impulse control, and may even become less patient and/or cranky (growl, nip, or “act out”) due to lack of sleep/rest.


  • Keep training sessions short at home! Take breaks in between by playing fetch or tug.
  • If your pup has been playing at the Dog Park, or was engaged with another dog for an extended period of time, encourage lots of rest once you return home!
  • Try to balance physical activity with mental stimulation activities! Remember, playing games and making your dog think can be just as exhausting!
  • Allow your pup time to interact with friends and family during parties and gatherings, but be mindful that this can be very over-stimulating for him/her (especially young puppies/dogs!) Crating your dog, or allowing him/her to take breaks from your guests, will help recharge his/her energy and encourage positive behavior choices after a nice long rest!
  • If your pup attends Doggy Daycare, check with the owner to see how often he/she is involved in playtime.Short sessions of playtime, throughout the day, will allow for positive interactions with other dogs and keep your pup happily tired.
  • Even the most active pups need lots of rest! Adult dogs typically sleep 12-14 hours per day (8 of those hours usually occur at night,) while puppies need closer to 16- 18 hours per day.

Mental Stimulation Ideas for Puppies and Dogs!

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Smoked Marrow Bones – Nature’s Babysitter!

These yummy bones are all-natural and last forever! I recommend purchasing them from a Farmer’s Market, like Meck’s just outside of Quarryville, PA!
Once your dog has cleaned off the bone, and enjoyed the marrow inside, you can re-use the bone (stuff peanut butter or sweet potatoes inside and freeze!)

*Always supervise your dog/puppy while eating these bones! *Marrow is very rich and can sometimes cause loose stools!

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Deer Antlers and Bully Sticks – Natural Snacks that are perfect for any age!

Dogs will enjoy the rough marrow of a Deer Antler!

*Can be expensive, but are long-lasting!
* Please supervise your dog/puppy while chewing these treats!
*Always purchase an antler that is large enough for your dog to chew, but not swallow!
*May not work well for aggressive chewers due to tooth breakage.

Bully Sticks are a favorite treat amongst dogs and puppies alike!

*Inexpensive, depending on the size
*Very...aromatic! You can purchase odor-free bullies for extra $! *Be sure these treats are natural and made in the USA!
*Throw away small remnants, as they could pose a choking hazard! *Always supervise your dog/puppy while chewing on Bully Sticks!

JW Toys – I love this brand of dog toys! These examples are of puzzle/treat- dispensing toys, however the whole product line is fun!

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Slow-Feed Dog Bowls – great for those who love to gobble in 30 seconds or less!

These bowls require your puppy to take some extra time to think about how he/she will get to all of those scrumptious pieces of food. Thinking = Mental Stimulation = Work = Happy and Tired Puppy!

Kong Toys – These “stuffable” toys are great for dinner, snacks, or crate toys!

1. Put a small handful of your puppy’s kibble at the bottom (the kibble will block the small hole at the bottom.)
2. Mix 1⁄4 cup of kibble with sweet potatoes, unsweetened applesauce, plain yogurt, or any blended baby food (veggies or fruit) so that the Kong is almost filled to the top.
3. Finally, add a thin layer of peanut butter to cover the large hole.

4. Place in the freezer for a few hours or overnight and you have a very healthy alternative to feeding from a bowl!
*If you would like to use this as a snack, simply freeze smashed sweet potatoes, pureed pumpkin, or veggie/fruit baby food in the Kong with a thin layer of peanut butter covering the hole!

Empty Containers, Boxes, and Bottles = Simple. Affordable. Recyclable.

1. Add your puppy’s kibble to any empty container (remove any lids) and watch him/her have lots of fun during feeding time!
2. Gently move the bottle/container around so that some of the kibble falls onto the floor and your puppy will know what to do Use an empty bottle for snack time as well!
3. Hide kibble/treats under the flaps in a box and shake it before giving it to your puppy!

These are a wonderful distraction when you need to answer the door, cook dinner, help with homework etc!
If your pup empties the container, box, or bottle, and begins to chew, simply remove it and recycle it (or reuse it if you feel it has not been damaged too much by little teeth!)

Snuffle Mats – an interactive way to for your pup to follow his/her instincts and forage for food!

1. Hide food or treats in the many compartments of a Snuffle Mat and keep your dog entertained for, well, at least a few minutes!
2. Check out You Tube for videos on how to make your own Snuffle Mat or check the Oxford Feed & Lumber/Jennersville Pets & Friends sites for DIY workshops! 3. Etsy and Amazon have pre-made Snuffle Mats for sale!

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FULL ARTICLE | The Pet Professional Guild has given permission for active Guild Members to use this educational piece in their businesses

© 2012 Developed & Designed by Leah Roberts, Carol Byrnes & Niki Tud

Why should I use food when training my dog?


Surely if I ask my dog to do something he should just do it? Dogs are thinking, feeling, intelligent creatures. Though they are not little people in fur suits, like us they will do things that are fun and rewarding and avoid things that are not.


Asking your dog to do something ‘just because you said so’ is like your boss asking you to work for no pay. How motivated would you be to do it? You could force your dog to comply, but what would that do to your relationship?


How would you feel about somebody who forced you to work? On the other hand, if you set up the game that your dog understands as "If I do what you want, you'll give me a treat," it's a relationship- building win-win situation. The dog is motivated to learn, and both of you can enjoy the training session. You love your dog, so why wouldn't you want to use a training "tool" that gets him excited and makes him happy?

Why does my dog only listen to me when I have a piece of hot-dog in my hand?


Dogs are so intelligent that they don't only learn what we WANT to teach them - they also read between the lines and learn things we don't mean to teach them! So if you start off with that piece of hotdog waving under his nose as you train him, he will expect to see and/or smell that piece of hotdog every time. This is a common complaint in food training, and there's an easy fix.


Simply make sure that you use the following steps:

(1) Cue the behavior,

(2) MARK the behavior (with a clicker or word, to let the dog know "that is the right answer and a reward is coming"), and only then

(3) Reach for the treat. If the treat always appears after the behavior, the dog will learn that he doesn't need to see or smell it ahead of time to earn it.

How do I ensure that I don't have to bribe my dog forever when I would like him to do something?

First of all, there is a difference between a bribe and a reward. The bribe comes first, before the behavior; the reward comes after the behavior. It's an important distinction, because "bribing" is not an effective way to train, but rewarding/reinforcing is. If you bribe, your dog will only perform the behavior if there's a piece of food in front of him first. If you reward, then your dog will perform the behavior in hopes of earning that piece of food. And after the learning phase, when that behavior is fluent you can start to phase out the food rewards.


For example, if you are teaching your dog to sit on cue, you would start off by reinforcing every sit with a piece of food. At some point that behavior will become so familiar and easy to your dog that when you say "sit," he will do it without thinking. When he is that good at sitting on cue, you can reward him with food sometimes but not every time.


Then you may be able to substitute praise (good dog!) or what is called a life reward. If he wants you to open the door so he can go out into a fenced yard, he can "earn" that by sitting at the door. Or if you ask him to sit before you put his food bowl down, that is also a life reward.


Basically the food is a training tool, and will not be required forever. But also keep in mind that nobody goes to one math class and comes out able to solve algebraic equations! Give your dog a lot of practice in a lot of different contexts before deciding that he "knows" how to do something.


If I train a lot, won't my dog get fat?

Whatever amount you put into your dog for training during the day, you must deduct from his dish at dinner time. If you stuff your dog full of treats all day long, and then feed him his regular meals, he just may get fat! Treats are wonderful, and powerful treats (like hotdogs, cheese and peanut butter) may be necessary when you're training a difficult behavior.


Learning comes in steps. Your house is a Nursery School environment for your dog. It's the easiest learning environment, with