Dog training – 7 steps to achieve your goals

Have you ever wondered why there are dogs that learn super-fast, seem to make steady progress in training, and never seem to make problems for their owners? While other dog owners seem to have completely lost control of their dog and slip from one problem to the next?

The reason for these two types of human-dog teams is not only the previous history of the dog, which may have come from a bad home or lived on the street. The dog owner’s experience doesn’t always play a role either. The most common reason that dog owners slip into a downward spiral with their dogs quite easily is that they don’t know how to do anything about the situation.

Perhaps you have also attended a dog school or taken a one-on-one lesson with a good dog trainer. You also made small progress in the first few weeks, but then fell back into old patterns and behaviors. Don’t worry, you’re like most dog owners! Without a long-term plan, 99.9% of dog owners completely stop training with their dog because they don’t think the training is on target.

I know it can be super frustrating when you don’t reach your goals even though you seem to have given it your all, so today I want to show you a system that ALWAYS works in dog training, as well as in life.

Step out of the downward spiral with 7 steps:

Step 1 – Define your exact goal

Step 2 – Find out your status quo

Step 3 – Plan the route to your goal

Step 4 – Set milestones

Step 5 – Get started!

Step 6 – Review and adjust your route

Step 7 – Keep going

Most dog owners now wonder why there are so many human-dog teams that have problems when it is supposed to be so easy. The important thing is to understand exactly what each step means and then follow through. Realize that there is NO shortcut on this path.

Step 1 – Define your exact goal.

You need to know exactly where you want to go to achieve your goal.

Let’s say you want to go on vacation to Austria and you plan to drive there, how do you go about it? You probably don’t just type Austria into the navigation system and drive off, do you? You rather look for a hotel or a vacation apartment, plan what you want to experience there, and have a pretty exact picture in mind of how the vacation should be. Then you enter the exact address into your navigation system and drive to your destination.

It is not enough to simply type Austria into the navigation system to reach your vacation destination. Just as it is not enough to say:

“I want my dog not to pull on the leash “¬†or *”I want my dog to listen to me better”.

These are not training goals!

You must have your goal crystal clear before you plan training with your dog. Otherwise, even the best training concept will not help you

Step 2 – Figure out your status quo

If you know where you want to go, you also have to find out where you are starting from. Also, your sat nav calculates for the route, from your current location to the destination. This is exactly what you need to do in dog training.

Determine your status quo with your dog.

This includes, for example, behavioral problems, that your dog shows and management measures, how you have dealt with them so far. You should also test how good your dog’s basic training is and how strong your human-dog bond is.

Then write down your status quo on each area and start planning your route.

Step 3 – Plan the route to your destination

Now the time has finally come. You know exactly what you want to accomplish with your dog and where you are right now. Now there are several ways to plan the route to your common goal.

  1. create a plan for yourself and just try it out.
  2. find a role model or coach who is already where you want to be.

When you design a plan for yourself, you need to be very structured and, most importantly, reflective in your approach to training. Especially as a new dog owner with no previous experience, this road is often rocky and marked by many detours. Nevertheless, you will learn a lot on this path and therefore I have listed it here.

The second way, on the other hand, is usually easier, as long as you choose your role model or trainer wisely. Follow proven methods instead of reinventing the wheel.

In our app, you’ll find over 200 videos that give you expert guidance. If our videos don’t help you with your problem, you can contact our certified dog trainers via the chat feature and we’ll help you plan your route.

Step 4 – Set milestones

To keep your motivation and your dog’s motivation high during your journey to your destination, you should come up with stage goals. In dog training, I recommend you set small weekly goals and slightly larger monthly goals.


If my end goal is for my dog to walk attentively beside me on a loose leash, then my stage goals might look like this:

Weekly Goal 1: The goal is for the first step out of the front door to be on a loose leash with my dog looking at me.

Monthly Goal: The goal is for my dog to walk the 200 yards to our house on a loose leash. If the leash tightens, he should regulate his own pace until the leash is loose again.

To check your stage goal, you should set aside one “check day” per week and one per month. This way you can check if you are ready for the next step or if you still need to work further on your stage goal.

Step 5 – Finally start

In dog training, as in life, there is never the one right moment to finally get started. We humans can usually think of 1000 excuses why it’s not the right time yet, or we’re waiting for that one new leash or clicker we’re still missing to finally get started. The fact is, to train with your dog, you hardly need anything except a leash and a collar, so grab your pelt nose and get started!

Step 6 – Review and adjust your route

After you’ve been training for about 2 weeks, you should check how far you’ve come towards your goal and where there are still difficulties. If you don’t make any progress at all with one method, it’s not a big deal to choose another approach instead and continue with that.

For all Pupy Pro users, there is the possibility to get support from certified dog trainers in our chat. So if you get stuck at any point in the training, we will help you find a solution and an alternative training approach if necessary.

Step 7 – Keep going

Dogs learn best in those moments when they are not doing what we would like them to do.

Everyone knows the situation where training is going great for a few weeks and suddenly day XY comes and he acts like he doesn’t know a single command anymore. Most dog owners hate such days and feel almost betrayed by their dogs.

Meanwhile, I have to confess that I love such “character days”! The reason is that days when my dog doesn’t want to listen, are the days when I can show my dog that our agreed-upon rules still apply. Once my dog understands that he learns more on that “character day” than in all the training sessions we’ve had together.

The important thing is that we take advantage of days like this and stay consistent instead of making a “one-time exception”. Exceptions ALWAYS set us back in training because your dog has succeeded with undesirable behavior and we also confirm it quite unconsciously through our “exception”.

So my tip is to wait for those “character days” and welcome them warmly. Because if you are aware that these days bring the greatest learning success, then it is the easiest to do without “exceptions”, even if it is exhausting!

By Sarah Mertes

Certified dog trainer

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