5 Ways to Train a Dog – Which is Best For You?

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Searching and understanding the best ways to train a dog can be an overwhelming project for any dog owner. Our team of dog-loving writers and experts helps break down some of the many different ways to train a dog and offers insight that can help you make an informed decision. The best way to train your dog is the one that consistently works for you and your dog!

From methods, collars, whistles, and clickers, it’s challenging to know what path would work best to get successful results for your furry friend. We tried several methods with our own dog before agreeing on the best approach. We knew we wanted to keep the cost low, but also choose a training technique that works into our active home life. Knowing what products and how much time and money you’re willing to invest can help narrow down the list of successful ways to train your dog.

As with all dog training, success relies on building a trusting, strong relationship between the dog and their owner. Training can sometimes be frustrating, but with repetition and a positive attitude, it can also be an enjoyable way to play and grow your relationship with your dog. There are many ways to train a dog, so take some time to think about the best method for you and your dog.

We hope this list helps break down some of the ways to train a dog and answer questions about what techniques are best for you and your four-legged companion.

#1 Clicker Training
#2 Training with Whistles
#3 Hand Signal Training
#4 Training and Vibrating Collars
#5 Online Training Programs

#1 Clicker Training

The sounds of a ‘click’ lets your dog know when you like their behavior.

Clicker training can be a successful, inexpensive way to help your dog understand what behaviors you want using a small clicking device. It is sometimes called reward training because it uses a positive reinforcement technique instead of focusing on behaviors you don’t want to encourage. Using a clicker to make a ‘clicking’ noise when your dog does the correct behavior will help your dog understand what behaviors you like instead of those you don’t like! 

With this method, you need to be present in the moment to ‘click’ your dog doing the correct behavior right away and give a treat along with the clicks. This training technique requires timing and consistency to be successful. While your dog uses the clicking noise to associate the exact behavior you want, it also allows the owner from dwelling on negative behaviors and focus on the positives. 

#2 Training with Whistles

Dog whistles make sounds too high for humans to hear.

If the sound of a repetitive clicking noise is too much for your ears, you might want to consider training with a dog whistle. Dog whistles make a high-frequency sound that human ears can’t hear, but dog ears certainly can. The sound quickly attracts their attention and can be heard from long distances. Many dog owners use a combination of whistle and voice or hand commands for effective whistle training. Using the whistle and giving a command helps lead the dog to associate the whistle with the desired behavior. You might want to start with a command your dog already knows. You can use the whistle to interrupt your dog’s barking and help train your dog not to bark. Of course, praising the correct behavior with treats is useful too, especially while your dog is still learning! 

There are many types of dog whistles on the market to choose from. Check with your vet to see what kind of whistle and frequency is right for your dog. While uncommon, there are some dogs that don’t like the sound of the whistle. 

#3 Hand Signal Training

Hand signals can be a successful training tool, especially for dogs with hearing loss.

While several ways to train a dog rely on the sounds of voices, clickers, and whistles, using hand signals can also be a great option for you and your companion. Especially if your dog is older or has hearing concerns, training your dog with hand signals might be a successful training method. 

As the name implies, you will use hand signals to teach your dog different behaviors. Many dogs are good at reading their owner’s body language instinctively. Using hand signals can also bring clarity to voice commands that may sound similar. Some dog owners prefer to use common hand signals that you can download online. Other owners create their own hand signals. Either can be successful as long as you are consistent with praise and treats! If you are having trouble getting started teaching handle signals, Purina has more information about how to begin hand signal training with your dog.

If you have concerns about your dog’s vision, check with a vet before attempting hand signal training to see if it’s the right training method for your dog. 

#4 Training and Vibrating Collars

There’s a good chance your dog already wears a collar with contact or health information attached in case your canine and you are separated. A training collar can be a useful addition if it is used correctly. For example, some dog owners find success with vibrating collars to help train their dog not to bark or jump. The collar produces a small vibration that can interrupt the barking or distract a dog from the negative behavior by using a small remote. The remote often requires batteries and some collars will need to be charged. This method focuses on training a dog what not to do instead of teaching your dog what behavior you want them to do. 

Choosing a collar to help train your dog is no easy task with all the options available today. There is such a variety of training collars that we’ve dedicated a section of Dog Training Boss to collars to help break down the pros and cons of some of the most common collar options. Understanding the products can help you make the most informed decision for you and your pet.

#5 Online Training Programs

Many dog owners like the convenience of online dog training programs.

While many of the ways to train a dog haven’t changed too much over the years, the amount and quality of online dog training programs and classes has grown quite a bit. Virtual dog training programs allow a convenient at-home approach to training your dog. For owners with a busy calendar, online classes might be the perfect fit. Other owners like the ability to re-watch lessons and work at their own pace.

However, much like in-person dog training, prices can vary and you will need to have time and dedication to focus on the classes for the best results. Setting aside time throughout the week can help keep the experience successful. We’ve created a separate guide to help you decide if online dog training programs are the best fit for your and your furry companion.

We hope this information helps you make an informed decision on which training method would be the best fit for you and your dog. For a more in-depth breakdown and specific details about each of the ways to train a dog that we mentioned, take a look at our training techniques.

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As a parent, dog owner, dog foster caregiver, and writer, I strive to create a loving home environment for all two and four-legged creatures. My background also includes research analysis and journalism. I work closely with animal behavior experts, trainers, and staff at Dog Training Boss to provide clear information that helps dog owners make the best decisions for their canine.