The Three P’s of Dog Training

Posted on January 19th, 2012 by FetchMasters in Positive Dog Training

Dog training videos and blog posts often give the impression that you can achieve near instant gratification when teaching your dog some new behavior. While dogs sometimes do make leaps in progress, higher levels of achievement typically take time and effort. Converting what your dog can do into what your dog chooses to do requires the Three P’s of Dog training.


Push your dog harder, gain more progress! Right? Usually not. In dog training, an ounce of patience is worth more than a pound of pressuring. I’d rather end a training session with a moderate gain and a happy dog than with a stressed out, shut-down dog and a frustrated me. Pretty much any dog can be trained to do pretty much anything. But dogs, like people, learn at different paces. Some dogs learn like they are in a sprint, others learn like they are in a marathon. Either way, your dog will learn.

NOTE: Some trainers say that dog’s must learn to deal with some level of pressure. While this is true to a large degree, that ability should be gently improved during the Proofing stage of training (the 3rd “P”), not while teaching dogs new behaviors.


Some dog trainers snarkily say: “If you don’t have time to train your dog, you should have never gotten one in the first place.” Maybe, but that doesn’t fix problems in the here-and-now. I say: “If you cannot find time to train your dog, re-prioritize and live up to your commitment.”

When you brought your dog home, you made a lifelong commitment to him. Now, make good on it. Practice is about much more than teaching your dog new skills. It is about interacting with your dog and building a psychologically healthy relationship between the two of you. Your relationship with your dog can be immensely fulfilling, and practice via dog training helps the two of  you to achieve a strong bond and learn about one another.

Practice requires time … so make time.


Proofing is the process in dog training in which you test and refine your dog’s understanding of a desired behavior. Once you have taught your dog the basics (i.e. sit, down, stay, come, leave-it, heeling, etc…), you must continue perfecting (proofing) your dog’s abilities amidst ever-increasing levels of distraction, and ultimately in the presence of distractions that are most difficult for your dog. Your dog’s ability (and desire) to respond to you is like a muscle that must be worked to become stronger. More generally, proofing is about always making your dog better, more stable and more reliable. A reliable dog is much safer (both to others and to himself) than a half-trained dog.


Need help training your dog? Contact FetchMasters!


Dog Training