Search Menu

There is a difference between Active and Passive dog training and all interactions with your dog matter. Many dog owners train their dogs daily, are active in taking group classes, and some even compete at high levels.  This is called active training. But you might not be aware that your dog is learning all the time. Whether it be greeting visitors or snuggling on the couch, every minute you spend with your dog is training.  Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, training is happening, whether it is you training your dog or your dog training you. This is passive training.  

Here are a few tips to keep in mind for daily life training with your best friend:

  • Be Mindful.  Dogs have an uncanny ability for knowing when you are paying attention to them and when you are not.  Dogs are the masters of mindfulness, so be in the present moment with your dog.  Be conscious of what is happening in your interactions.  One great way to do this is to engage with your dog, especially on walks.  By talking to (or even singing!) to your dog, he is more likely to give his attention to you instead of everything except you.
  • Always tell your dog when he is correct.  Dogs love to know when they are correct, and it gives them more information than just telling him “No” when he is incorrect.  Desired behaviors, when marked and rewarded, are more likely to be repeated.  Use an enthusiastic “Yes” or ”Good” to mark the timing of behaviors you like.
  • Use all interactions to let your dog know what you expect.  This includes not allowing other people to let your dog exhibit bad manners.  Don’t be afraid to ask other people to stop short and wait while you get your dog set up for petting.  Education is not only for your dog but also other people you meet.
  • Rewards are not just food.  A reward is anything your dog enjoys.  Experiment with your dog to find what type of motivation your dog likes most.  Does he like belly rubs?  Or silent petting?   Or praise without petting?  Or does praise and petting together get your dog’ tail wagging.  Play is also a great reward for everyday life.
  • Passive training is just as important as active training if not more so.  Better everyday manners lead to what you both desire most – the ability to interact more often, more comfortably and with more quality time together.

The AKC GoodDog! Helpline is a seven day a week telephone support service staffed by experienced dog trainers. Clients can call and chat with trainers about any training and behavioral issues they are having with their dogs. If you need to learn more about training your dog and about the helpline please visit our site.  

We have a series of webinars on different aspects of dog training and behavior that were put together by our training experts here at the AKC GoodDog! Helpline. Check this one out just below which is all about training your puppy to not jump up on you and your visitors when saying hello.