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Train the Dog in Front of You - The Missing Piece to Improved Behavior | Pupford

September 27th, 2023

Filed under Podcasts

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The world is full of conflicting information and methods for obtaining “success and happiness”.

And in terms of dog training and behavior success, the conflicts and arguments about how to get there will make your head spin.

The term and ideology to train the dog in front of you can be a grounding principle to help you make the best, most informed decisions for how to raise and train your dog!

While this term’s origin can be hard to pinpoint, it has been popularized due to a book (with the same title) by Denise Fenzi surrounding this topic. Get the book ‘Train the Dog in Front of You’ here.

In today’s episode, we’ll dive into what this phrase means, and how it can improve your outlook on your dog’s behavior to ultimately lead you to the strongest bond and connection with your dog as possible!

Let’s get right to it. 👇

Note: This is likely the final episode of the Perfect Pup Podcast (at least for the foreseeable future). Thank you SO much for all your incredible support over the last few years, it means the world to me. I’m genuinely grateful for all the positive reviews, feedback, and appreciation for this podcast.


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train the dog in front of you meaning

The term train the dog in front of you can mean different things to different people. That’s kind of the point in and of itself.

In its broadest sense, this term/theory is meant to remind us as pup parents to drown out all the noise, competing opinions, and varying techniques out there and focus on what our specific dog needs at any given moment.

In other words, just because something works for one dog, doesn’t mean it will work for your dog.

Our dogs are unique individuals with varying strengths and weaknesses. Effectively raising a well-mannered pup is less about teaching specific behaviors, and more about adapting principles of learning to meet your dog’s needs.

When we learn about dog training techniques and tactics, it’s important to reframe them through the lens of what your specific dog needs at that moment in their behavioral journey! ⬇️

And there are a few questions you can ask yourself to know if you’re effectively “training the dog in front of you”.

🐶 Don’t miss out! Sign up for the 100% free online training class 30 Day Perfect Pup. Get started here! 🐶 


focusing on principles of learning can help you train your dog

Question 1: Am I focusing on training techniques or principles?

Focusing solely on dog training techniques can sometimes lead us to frustration, especially when the methods don’t work for our dog.

Just because your favorite dog trainer on TikTok showed how to teach a trick one way, doesn’t mean that is the only way.

Just because a course you watched showed how to teach loose leash walking a certain way, doesn’t mean that is the only way.

Just because your neighbor said they taught their dog to stop barking by using an aversive method, doesn’t mean that is the only way.

Techniques will be different for every single dog, situation, and behavior… But principles remain the same across the board. And specifically, the principles of learning.

Some principles that I’m referring to include the following:

Again, there are dozens of ways to teach a dog the “lay down” behavior. But each technique still falls back to a learning principle like operant conditioning.

To train the dog in front of you, focus on proven learning principles! The time you spend learning about how dogs learn and the principles guiding behavior change will vastly improve your ability to meet the behavioral needs of your specific dog.

And you’ll be much better at doing that as you focus on reading your dog’s cues and messages. ⏬

🐶 Don’t miss out! Sign up for the 100% free online training class 30 Day Perfect Pup. Get started here! 🐶 


dog body language can help us train more effectively

Question 2: How is my dog currently reacting and behaving during training?

While we intuitively understand that we know our own dog better than anyone can, it can be hard to “know” our dog’s exact feelings or outlook when a specific teaching or training moment pops up.

Luckily, our dogs can give us insight as to how they want to learn through their body language and responsiveness. So if we want to adapt the way we teach and interact with our dogs, we should study, learn, and come to understand dog body language.

Understanding your dog’s cues and signals during training sessions can help you better ‘train the dog in front of you’ by truly understanding their response to your training.

Despite my two Labs having an almost identical upbringing (and even being biological sisters), their learning styles are vastly different. So while I teach with the same principles, the techniques I use are dependent on their responses during each interaction.

I aim to be careful and soft with my corrections for Scout, who leans on the slightly more nervous and anxious side.

For Sunny though, she responds well to a certain level of sternness and directness.

Both will learn the same behaviors, but their body language cues can help guide how they want to be taught!

And keep in mind that the way your dog feels and subsequently responds to different training sessions can vary every single day. So, tune into your dog’s cues at all times!

And be willing to be flexible with your training process. 👇


Question 3: Am I trying to teach something in a way that I feel strongly about/think is best, or in a way that will help my dog learn most effectively?

More often than not, we fail to adapt and customize our training due to our inability to be flexible. It’s rarely our dogs’ fault.

We often fall into the trap of seeing a training plan or idea and assuming it will work at all stages of our dog’s life. Or that it will work at all!

Training the dog in front of you requires YOU (the human) to be learning and growing as a “trainer”. That can come in many forms, but being open to learning new information and adapting your training accordingly can make all the difference!

I look back on my approach to training my pups even just a couple of years ago and clearly see where I fell short. The key though was making tweaks and changes to my approach based on new learning and information I gained over time!

We will all make mistakes as pup parents, but being willing to change your own approach can help you better tune into your dog’s specific needs.

🐶 Don’t miss out! Sign up for the 100% free online training class 30 Day Perfect Pup. Get started here! 🐶 


a human enjoying their time with their dog

No matter how many competing opinions or ideas you’ll hear from people, you ultimately have the make the best decision for your dog and your current situation.

As we strive to not just train, but LOVE the dog in front of us we can better meet their needs and help them live more enriched and healthy lives.

My hope is that you can focus on your dog’s individual needs on a daily basis and find training tactics, games, and methods that will help you unlock your dog’s best version!

If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for 30 Day Perfect Pup. It’s a 100% free online course that can help you better tune into your dog’s needs, make a training plan, and help improve your pup’s behavior and manners. Sign up for free here!

What’s a unique trait or strength your dog has that you’ve incorporated into their training? Tell me in the comments!

🐶 Don’t miss out! Sign up for the 100% free online training class 30 Day Perfect Pup. Get started here! 🐶 


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