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National Train Your Dog Month

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Did you know that January is National Train Your Dog Month?

The Association of Professional Dog Trainers started National Train Your Month 8 years ago to promote training your family dog to have everyday manners. Their website, is chock full training tips and videos on everything from new puppy challenges, safe interactions between dogs and kids, what to know when you own a large breed dog, and how to choose a kennel or groomer. New content will be added throughout the month too. Make sure to check out their site.

Why should you bother training your dog?

Dogs who have had some training are less likely to end up in shelters or being returned to rescues or breeders. Dogs who get regular mental stimulation through training are happier, more relaxed, and are easier to live with because they aren’t always brimming with unbridled energy. Training can take the edge off of a nervous or anxious dog. Training teaches a dog to look to his owner for guidance. And last but not least, training is fun for dogs and people.

What behaviors should you train?

Start with the basics. Sit, Lay Down, Come, Stay, and Touch are great commands to begin with. Think of your dog learning these commands as putting tools in your toolbox – behaviors you can call on your dog to do instead of things you don’t want him to do.

Have a dog that jumps on people? Teach him a rock solid sit and call on this behavior when she wants to greet people. If she sits, she gets attention, and a dog that is sitting can’t be jumping at the same time! Same thing with a solid down – a dog that is lying down is not jumping on people. A dog who comes when called can’t be doing a myriad of other things we don’t like – barking at other dogs, getting into the trash, chewing on your shoes – the list is endless!

By teaching your dog to follow these commands you are effectively teaching replacement behaviors – things your dog can do instead of the things he is doing that you don’t like. Remember – training and investing in your dog really is all about you. Training makes your life with your dog more fun (and the dog gets the benefit too!)

How do you get started?

If you are a DYI kind of person, YouTube and Facebook have great training videos and groups. Our recommendation for training is always to use positive training methods. Our favorite YouTube channels for this are Kikopup and Zak George. These two trainers have hundreds of great videos that are easy to follow and get great results.

If you prefer to have someone teach you one on one, private dog training lessons are the way to go. When we work with clients we customize our programs to meet our clients goals and dreams for their dogs. We provide written training plans and handouts and lots of other great materials to support you in your training.

If you prefer to learn in a group setting, group classes can be lots of fun for dogs and people – and we offer those too! Check out our group class schedule on our website

No matter what route you take to train your train, remember to have patience with your dog. Dogs don’t speak English, and some dogs take longer to learn new things than others do. If you dog doesn’t follow your commands, assume he needs a minute to translate from people to dog language or he doesn’t understand what you want him to do. Believe it or not, most dogs are not stubborn. We just haven’t made our instructions clear enough for them 🙂

Pepper’s Paws, LLC provides in home dog training for basic manners, behavior problems, and fear aggression in Chester County, PA. We also offer group classes in everything from Puppy Basics to Advanced Adult Dog Manners to Tricks and Fun! 

Head trainer Deb Murray, is Certified Canine Behavior Consultant (CBCC-KA) and Certified Professional Dog Training (CPDT-KA) by the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers, a Fear Free Certified Traineran AKC Evaluator, and a Distinguished Graduate and Mentor Trainer for the Catch Canine Academy, and a Mentor for the Victoria Stillwell Dog Training Academy.

Did you know training your dog did this?

There are some obvious reasons to train your dog: to teach him sit, lay down, not pull on the leash, why else should you train your dog?

Dog training can have amazing effects on your dog’s personality, confidence, and energy level. It also gives people – including children – confidence around dogs. People who train their dogs feel more bonded with their dogs, and if you watch them with their dogs, their dogs are more bonded and responsive to them too. They also feel less stressed with their dogs – at home, at the vet, on walks, meeting other dogs and people. Here are a few of their stories….

Liam used to be very leash reactive. He looked like a crazed, aggressive dog when he saw another dog – from as much as 100 yards away. But when he met dogs off leash in his back yard he happy and relaxed with most dogs. Brenda needed Liam to be Training Liam and Bearcalmer when he saw other dogs, and desperately wanted to be able to walk him with other dogs. We set out to desensitize him to seeing other dogs – we showed him seeing other dogs was no big deal, and we counter-conditioned him seeing other dogs by showing him that seeing dogs on a walk was a good thing – it made hot dogs appear! Over a few months Liam went from doing barky, scary threat displays when he saw a dog on a walk, to a dog who saw a dog and calmly looked at his mom for guidance and reward. Liam learned to not only walk with other dogs, he started to enjoy it and was even able to help other leash reactive dogs to settle as well.

Bella used to be afraid of people. Strangers made her nervous and she was reluctant to go near them. To help her, we taught Bella

Training Bella
Don’t take Bella’s word for it – train with us and see for your self!


some basic cues – Sit, Down, Touch, Stay, and Leave It – and rewarded her generously for doing these behaviors on cue. Learning these basic cues helped Bella relax and feel more in control of her environment – in her mind I think she thought she had figured us crazy humans out: “I sit, and they give me a treat, or open a door, or take off my leash – it’s so easy to get these people to do things for me!” In reality, all we did was make Bella’s world more orderly and predictable. We did most of this training while Bella was in daycare without parents present. I knew Bella was getting more comfortable with me, but the real break through came when Bella showed her parents her new people skills. During my handover session with Bella and her parents, my assistant Eryn walked into the room. Bella had never met Eryn before, and she walked right up to Eryn to greet her and turned sideways and politely asked for pets. Through training, Bella learned basics commands and she gained confidence, and we were thrilled!

When I first went to Maxi’s home she was a frantic little dog. She seemed to be going in 3 directions at once – and nipping everything in site. Maxi was anxious and nervous, and showed it with her mouth and by jumping on people. We taught Maxi that doing Sits, and Down, and Touches, and Stays made her ball fly through the air, treats appear out of no where, and Training Maxipetting and love come her way. In one week, Maxi went from anxious and frantic to focused and calm. Her Mom started hand feeding her and making her work for food, ask politely to get on the couch, and ignored any impolite or pushy behavior. I think it showed Maxi that there was nothing to be anxious about, Mom had the world under control, and Maxi blossomed. Maxi isn’t a perfect dog, but her progress in 1 week was fantastic! Her Mom is thrilled with her and feels much more in control of her home, and her dog, who used to be too excitable to sleep on her bed, now rests calmly at her side each night.

I can’t promise every dog will have transformations like this, or as quickly as some of these dogs did, but I can promise you this: training your dog and working with your dog will teach you and your dog to understand each other better, will help you (and often your dog) feel more confident, and it is a great way to exercise your dog’s brain, which can tire a dog out more than a long walk. Training should be fun and rewarding, for both dog and human. Give it a try, you just might love it!

Pepper’s Paws, LLC provides in home dog training in Chester County, PA. We also teach Basic to Advanced Manners classes and offer in house dog training at Dogtopia of Chester Springs.

Head trainer Deb Murray, CPDT-KA is certified by the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers, an AKC Evaluator, a Doggone Safe “Be a Tree” Presenter, and a Distinguished Graduate and Mentor Trainer for the Catch Canine Academy.