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5 Signs Your Dog is Making Training Progress | Pupford

December 27th, 2023

Filed under Training

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“Am I doing this right?” - Every dog parent ever at one point or another.

Without the ability to tell us if they are grasping a concept, you're left wondering if your training sessions are actually making any difference – especially when your dog hasn’t quite yet mastered whatever you’re currently working on.

But that doesn't mean they’re not making progress.

In fact, many of the signs that your dog is progressing in their training journey has very little to do with training itself.

Rather, they have to do with the overall cognitive development of your dog. Training forms new associations and connections in your dog’s brain which increases confidence and improves their overall mental and emotional state.

Today we’ll talk about what that looks like in your dog, and how to spot signs that they really are making training progress.


dog training progress infographic

We want to preface this with a few reminders about the training journey with your dog. Sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in comparing your dog with others or thinking about what they “should” be doing that you lose sight of some really important things.

So remember: Training is not linear.

There will be weeks where you feel like you are not making any progress, and weeks where you feel like your dog is grasping things immediately. Both are normal, and both are important.

It doesn’t matter how long your dog is taking to master a certain behavior or how many things they are able to learn at once. What matters is that you are taking the time to work with your dog and are consistent even during challenging times.

For more reminders and tips for taking on a training journey, take a look at The Truth About Your Dog’s Training Progress.


While we don’t want you to stress unnecessarily about your dog’s pace of progress, it’s still important to know they are moving in the right direction.

To do that, look for those whole-brain development signs we mentioned earlier. Here are some of them:


dogs using their noses is a good sign that they are making training progress

If your dog is beginning to engage in other important dog behaviors, it’s a great indication that they are making progress.

Why? Because they may either be more confident and comfortable in their environment because of training progress, or they are learning what is and isn’t an appropriate way to indulge their instincts.

Either way, we love to see dogs doing dog stuff, such as:

  • Sniffing – Dogs use their noses to take in information about the world around them, so sniffing is mentally enriching for them. See if your dog is engaged with sniffing by setting out a snuffle mat for dogs filled with their favorite treats. And learn more about the importance of sniffing for your dog here.
  • Chasing – Dogs have an instinct called prey drive, which causes them to want to stalk and chase things. If you notice your dog is more interested in activities like fetch, flirt poles, or even trying to chase you around the yard, they may be tapping into that prey drive.
  • Chewing – Like sniffing, chewing is a way for your dog to explore the world around them and stimulate their brain. Offer your dog a size-appropriate dog chew and watch them go to town!

These are just some common examples, there are certainly more. But the point is that if your dog is acting like, well, a dog, there’s a really good chance they’re making progress in their training journey.


dog engaged with owner because they have strengthened bond through training

One of the most important benefits of training is the strengthened bond between you and your dog.

If they are more engaged with you, it means a few things: they trust you, they look to you for guidance and instruction, and they know that you have the treats (half kidding about that last one).

But on a serious note, your dog’s engagement with you outside of training is a sign that they’re engaged during training too – which is a huge indication of progress.


A major component of training is making associations (which is a huge reason why you should choose positive reinforcement training).

Once your dog starts making progress with their training, those associations will start to stick outside of training sessions too.

For example, if you’ve been working on “place” with your dog during training and you find your dog going to their place on their own more often without the cue, that means they’ve learned that it’s a good behavior they should be doing.

Don’t forget to reward your dog when they offer behaviors outside of training sessions!


dog spends more time relaxed because they are getting more training

Has your dog seemed to take a chill pill lately? Taking more afternoon naps rather than running around looking for trouble to get in?

GOOD! That means training is working!

Your dog being relaxed and even tired is a sign that they got enough mental stimulation throughout the day, which means they are really engaged with their training.

This also tends to happen when dogs make progress with crate training since they come to see the crate as their dedicated relaxation space.


dog playing fetch because they are making training progress

When your dog isn’t relaxing or napping, are they playful? Do they seem to get more into games like fetch and tug of war? It may be a sign of training progress.

Again, being able to engage with play means they are relaxed and comfortable in their environment, thanks to the confidence training brings them. It also means they’ve learned the difference between having fun with toys and games vs. engaging in unwanted behaviors... another huge sign of training success.

So the next time your dog brings over their favorite toy to you, take the time to play with them – it’s a sign of a job well done by both of you!

If you see your dog doing any of these, it’s a great sign that your hard work in training is paying off!


Hopefully, this has eased your mind and helped you see that your dog is making great progress in their training journey.

On the other hand, you may now be seeing other areas where you want your dog to improve – that’s normal too.

We’re here to help either way! The Pupford Academy is full of guidance, courses, and resources to help your dog continue making training progress, no matter where they are in their journey.

Want to know more about Pupford Academy? Check out PetKeen's review!

"There is so much content available to you, even without signing up for Academy+. Each course topic breaks down into several modules and they give you written resources for everything. The free courses teach the basics of how training works, for you, so you can be the trainer your pup needs you to be, and then some of the most important basics for puppies.

If you want to get into troubleshooting behaviors at home other than impulse control, expanding your dog’s trick repertoire, or even start in on service dog training, you’ll need to opt for Academy+.

Once you include Academy+ in the mix, there are hours upon hours of content that covers every aspect of training a pet dog at home that you could ever need."

Get the free dog training app today to continue making progress and remember…you got this!


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