This trainer explains why it’s important to take things slowly when training your dog

Man training dog outside
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Training a dog is a long-term process. Whether you’re raising a dog from a puppy or you have an older rescue dog, you aren’t going to teach your pup everything overnight. It’s important to remember to take things slow and gradual, and not do too much too fast.

It’s only natural that you get a new dog and you want to take them everywhere and show them off to friends and family members (who'll no doubt be jumping at the chance to feed them some of the best dog treats!), but your dog won’t be prepared for all of these different situations and settings right away. 

Ruben Montes, owner and dog trainer at Kindred Dog PDX, has discussed what to keep in mind in a new Instagram post. 

“Remember that you’re training your dog, not enjoying the farmer’s market,” Montes explains, quoting another trainer. He continues in the caption, “I get it, we got a new dog and we want to take them on all the adventures. The problem is your dog is likely not ready to handle those situations at the get-go.”

He discusses the scenario of going on an outing with your dog – perhaps to a friend’s house or to the store – but your dog just not being equipped to cope with it. Training dogs with treats is always a handy trick, but even so, your pup might try to pull on their leash, get reactive, jump more than usual, or display other undesirable behaviors. “The whole time,” says Montes, “They are self-rewarding, likely learning the exact things you wouldn’t want them doing.”

He continues, “I believe that if you haven’t done something, an activity or an outing less than 10 times, you need to practice outside that setting. The reason for this is the novelty of the situation. Novelty brings over excitement and if we don’t know how to work through that our dogs are going to do what they do and we will struggle. This is the fastest way to your dog staying home because they can’t be trusted.”

When you’re trying something new with your dog, your expectations need to change. You’re showing your dog what to do and how to be in any situation, which will help them learn what you want. Montes adds, “Over time, this will generalize and before you know it your dog can go anywhere because they understand the expectations.”

Training a dog isn’t always easy, and can take a lot of patience and encouragement. If you’re finding things tricky at the moment, you might find these 25 practical tips for training your dog on your own useful.

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Adam England
Freelance Writer

Adam is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle, health, culture, and pets, and he has five years' experience in journalism. He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' Golden Retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.