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Dog Trainers Swear By These 15 Little-Known Tips For Making Your Pooch Behave Better

Almost every pup parent has something they can work on something when it comes to dog training skills. If you simply want some budget-friendly products and a few expert tricks to help make your furry little friend behave better, this list has plenty to look through. In fact, the dog trainers we talked to swear by these 15 little-known tips for making your pooch behave better.

The most unique tip you’ll find is what Alec Littlejohn, a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and Co-Owner of Pawscessories, calls “the secret poop trick.” How does it work? Littlejohn says, “Most dogs like to keep their living area hygienic, and finding their own poop in places they want to dig makes the activity much less interesting.” So, simply relocate some of it from your yard into their favorite digging hole. Of course, you’ll need a handy, compact anti-rust shovel you’ll need to test out this anti-digging trick.

For a less messy tip, there’s an easy way for your pup to chase out all of their extra energy. Khris Erickson, a CPDT-KA, SA Pro, Canine Behavior and Training, Specializing in Separation Anxiety, suggests a flirt pole. “A walk in the neighborhood isn’t enough exercise for your dog? If you have a fenced-in space a flirt pole may be just the thing to help tire your dog out,” she says. So, of course, there’s an adorable tie-dye flirt pole on the list that’s also gentle on your arm.

So, read through all 15 of these little-known tips to find tricks for potty time, bath time, overwhelming moments for your pup (like a dinner party), and more.

Khris Erickson, a CPDT-KA, SA Pro specializing in separation anxiety, suggests sticking this Aquapaw lick mat to your bathtub tile. “The Aquapaw Slow Treater Treat-Dispensing Licky Mat will make bath time a lot more pleasant for everyone,” says Erickson. This 100% silicone licking mat will stay securely on your tile with the suction cups for hours. So, you can stick on this extra-large mat hours before bath time. It’s the perfect BPA-free feeder for peanut butter, yogurt, and more. This mat even keeps large pups busy for up to 15 minutes.

“To get your dog used to the idea of bath time, do some practice sessions with the licky mat without actually using water initially. This will help your dog learn to love being in the tub before you actually have to use water,” Erickson further suggests for dogs who are really hesitant about bathtime.

Erickson also recommends keeping a Squishy Face Studio flirt pole around. “If you have a fenced in space, a flirt pole may be just the thing to help tire your dog out,” she says. Those durable tie-dye tassels will help your dog chase out all of that extra energy. Plus, the tassels are attached with a bungee cord that’s way more gentle on your arm every time your pup catches this toy. Your arm will also thank you because this chasing toy weighs less than 1 pound.

According to Erickson, flirt poles aren’t only for extra energy. “Additionally, flirt poles can be used for training with things your dog already knows,” she explains. “Ask for a sit or down, and reward by letting your dog chase the toy. Once your dog grabs the toy, it’s a great time to work on 'leave it.'"

Erickson also loves this non-pulling harness for easier and comfier walks. “Front clip harnesses are designed to help reduce pulling, and the PetSafe Easy Walk No Pull Dog Harness is the one I like the best as it’s easy to get on and off and works well.” It’s easy because of the two simple snaps that have a quick-release design. AKA — this lightweight harness is perfect if you or your pup are impatient to go on or come home from walks. This front-clip harness is also free of extra fabric and straps that might be too warm on walks.

As for how to use it, Erickson says: “You can use the front clip harness as management tool for the rest of your dog’s life, or as a management tool while you work on training loose leash walking to prevent your dog from practicing pulling."

Aaron Rice, owner of Stayyy and an expert dog trainer with more than 15 years of experience with dog training for the FBI, police, TSA, and competition dogs, recommends a brain fuel toy like this Nina Ottosson dog puzzle. “There are tons of games and puzzles available in the market today that will help you keep your dog entertained," he says. This one comes in 21 colorful options that open, twist, roll, slide, and more to engage your dog’s mind and tap into their foraging instincts. It comes in four skill levels, and they’re all BPA-free for your pup’s treats or kibble. Plus, each one keeps your pup moving when it’s not time for a walk.

“Exercise is important for your fur baby,” Erickson notes. So, grab this super durable ChuckIt! Ultra Ball that’s perfect for fetch no matter what dog park you’re at. Even if there’s a pond at the park — this extra-bouncy ball actually floats, despite being made with a thick rubber core. This ball is a dog owner favorite, with over 88,000 five-star reviews on Amazon.

As for how often you should carry your ball to the park, Erickson says, “Even a little every day goes a long way. Take them for a walk or a run or skate with them. Play some frisbee or make a hurdle circuit for them in your backyard.”

Mikkel Becker, a dog behavior counselor and lead animal trainer for Fear Free recommends a door strap like this one from Door Buddy. Why? “If you have a cat, hopefully your dog is friends with them,” she says. “But if they are on a little bit less peaceful terms, the dog may want to bother Miss Kitty while she is doing her business.”

Instead, attach the low-profile 3M adhesive latch to your door frame and the strap to your door. You can quickly un-latch it to get in the room yourself, but your pup can’t sneak in and invade your cat’s space. This budget-friendly strap is also adjustable, so your cat can fit through the cracked door.

Becker suggests using a light-up collar LED collar if your pup has a habit of getting distracted on walks and needs to go on off-times. “If your dog doesn't like company on their walks, try going out early in the morning before work or later in the evening once it's gotten dark,” she states. This light-up collar comes in 10 bright colors, so you can go on those night walks and after-dark park visits while keeping your little buddy visible. You can turn on two blinking settings if the solid light isn’t eye-catching enough. This water-resistant nylon collar comes with a micro-USB to recharge it.

Becker suggests grabbing this Awoof snuffle feeding mat for your pup to sniff through — instead of digging through the trash. She explains this trash rummaging habit happens if “your dog is bored or wanting to act on its natural doggy instincts to forage.” This toy is perfect for Becker’s foraging tip because she says, “remember, dogs love to work for their food and like to be ‘employed’ with something to do all day.”

This machine-washable mat actually lets them search for all of the treats or food you’ve scattered in the hiding spots. It’s made of non-toxic fabric that has built-in bells they can hunt for if you don’t want to use food. It also folds up after each foraging session, so this puzzle doesn’t take up all of your floor space.

Let your pup chew away with this bouncy bone from PetSafe that Becker recommends. Why? “Chewing is a natural dog behavior so if they are chewing your shoes, clothing, furniture, etc. we want to ensure to give an alternative outlet for this - something they are allowed to chew on,” Becker explains.

This nylon bone with a rubber ball at the center gives your doggo a durable toy they’re allowed to chew on. It’s vanilla-scented and comes with ring-shaped treats. To really keep them occupied, simply slide the rawhide treats on the bone. Plus, you can pop this chewing bone on the top rack of your dishwasher if it gets all slobbery.

For the dog that misses the pee pad and aims for the wall, Becker recommends pee pad holders. “Sometimes peeing vertically can mean they miss the pee pad, especially if they are lifting their legs up high, so having a pad that extends upwards can solve this,” she says. With these 3M adhesive pad holders, you can keep the pads you already have. Each holder is two pieces, so stick the first piece as high up on the wall as your pup normally aims. Then simply pull the pad up the wall and pop the magnetic cap on top.

Alexandra Bassett, a CPDT-KA, Lead Trainer & Behavior Specialist at Dog Savvy Los Angeles, suggests using a training leash to potty train. “Many clients ask me how to get their dog to potty in one spot or area of their yard,” she says. “This can be achieved by keeping their dog on a leash when escorting them to the desired potty area, and then waiting for them to do their business. Once done, the ‘reward’ is being set free!”

This heavy-duty training leash is perfect because it has a double handle. That means you can hold your pup exactly where you want them to potty in your yard, but it still has a 5-foot reach for wandering. The handles are padded and comfy enough to grab every time your pup needs to go to the bathroom. This durable leash also swivels, so your dog can easily walk around their new potty spot.

Basset suggests puppy massages to calm barking dogs, and this compact pet massage roller is super handy. “It’s a little known fact that you can use massage to calm a dog down when they are alarm barking in order to communicate with them that a stimulus such as a neighbor leaving their house or returning home does not pose a ‘threat,’” she says. “By calming them down with a good shoulder rub and promoting them to relax, you can communicate to the dog that there’s nothing to worry about, and soon, they will stop barking at the neighbor/stimulus. Most people just yell at their dogs, which only confirms to the dog that there’s something to get worked up about.”

This roller has a curved handle that gives your pup a massage that’s gentle yet firm. It’s complete with two roller sizes, and you can use it on your pup’s shoulders, chest, or even their head. It even has a grippy handle, so you won’t drop it if your nervous pup is moving around.

Liz Dimit, a Franchise Trainer at dogtopia, proves that you can totally help your pup out in overwhelming situations. “Dogs who can focus on their parents with a simple name call both at home and in a busy playroom will greatly increase their ability to ‘focus’ in a multitude of environments,” she says. This focus will help your pet behave better in overwhelming situations. Dimit says a few of these situations could be “when company comes over for dinner or behaving nicely at a restaurant.”

For the pooch who doesn’t always listen, Dimit recommends a “release” command. “We want to always end on a positive note without allowing the dog to think they control you. A release word like “play” at home can increase a dog’s understanding of when they can “stop listening” vs. having “selective hearing” to command requests.” To finally stop that selective hearing, Dimit tells me: “Follow through is everything!”

Alec Littlejohn, a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and Co-Owner of Pawscessories, recommends an anti-digging trick — and you’ll need this sturdy shovel. “Essentially, whenever your dog digs a hole you simply place some of their poop inside the hole, then place dirt on top to cover it up and fill the hole,” he says. “Next time your dog goes to dig in that spot they'll find their poop, be repulsed, and be much less likely to continue digging there.”

You’re going to want this durable shovel before trying out this tip with your pooch. It’s rust-resistant, so you can still go out and fill the holes if it’s raining. As for how long you’ll need to use this budget-friendly shovel, Littlejohn says, “Some dogs will stop after finding their poop once, others will go to another spot to dig. If that's the case, simply repeat the process in the other spot they've chosen to dig. After doing this a few times your dog will eventually lose interest in digging up your yard.”