DOG TRAINING TIPS FROM AUSTRALIA’S EXPERTS pets corner It’s easy to understand why dogs are one of the most popular pets in Australia. With their friendly and loyal nature, along with an ability to learn tricks, they make a great addition to your family.   However, many people are unfamiliar with the concept of properly training their dogs, which can sometimes lead to undesirable behaviour and unhappy pets.   To help your dog be the happiest pooch on the block, we’ve talked to five of Australia’s top dog trainers to share some of their tried and trusted dog training tips with you. Start your puppy off on the right paw and you’ll be set for lifelong fun with your four-legged pal.   Toilet Training   One of the biggest problems new dog owners have is toilet training. It is not just about training the dog to do their business in the proper place, but also to be able to control their bladder until an appropriate time.   There are a variety of useful training methods out there, some which work fast but require a lot of effort, and others that require minimal effort but take a lot longer. Mutts with Manners founder, Maria Cunningham shares a method aimed at finding a happy middle ground in between the two.   Training tip: When toilet training a dog, many people resort to using wee pads. However, to a dog, wee pads can feel very similar to carpet. Instead of using a wee pad by itself, Cunningham recommends placing fake turf over the wee pad. This way, you can simulate the feel and look of grass without the risk of the wee soaking through to your floor.   Remember that when you take your pup for a walk, you should praise them for doing their business on the grass. They’ll be toilet trained in no time!   Sitting on Cue   How many times have you passed a dog owner firmly telling their pup to sit while said pup smiles adoringly at its master, tail wagging in disobedience?   Teaching your dog to sit on cue is one of the most basic behaviours that you should train your dog to perform, say Four Paws K9 Training.   It can help protect your dog in situations where you don’t want them running around, like near a busy road. Dogs young and old alike can learn this behaviour and it is surprisingly easy to teach.   Training tip: Start by concealing a treat inside your hand, but make sure your dog knows that it is there. Move your hand over your dog’s head, back towards their rear end. As they look up and back for the treat, their instinctual behaviour should be to lower their bottom to the ground.   As soon as this happens, say ‘sit’ and give them the treat immediately. Just a few repetitions should have your dog sitting like a pro every time.   Must Like Children   Dogs are a big part of our community and, as such, need to learn respect and patience for the children they will inevitably encounter. Understandably, one of the most common concerns dog owners have is training their dog to behave properly around children.   Conversely, children must also be taught to behave properly around dogs as well. As the trainers at Goodog say, ‘Dogs and children have to be actively supervised at all times and both need to be taught to respect each other’s space.’   Training tip: First off, make sure that your children, if they are older, understand that your dog is an animal, not a toy. They should be taught that it is inappropriate to pull the dog’s tail or try to climb on top of its back. Discourage your children from trying to wrestle or engage in rough play with your dog.   When training your dog, make sure that it understands a signal to ‘drop it’ or ‘leave it’. It’s not going to end well if your dog and child end up in a tug-of-war over a favourite toy.   You can train your dog to allow humans to approach the food bowl by portioning out the food and adding it to the bowl bit by bit. Your dog will accept you approaching the bowl because they get something out of it.     Go Fetch!   Playing fetch with a stick or ball is not only a lot of fun, but also a great way to give your furry friend the extra exercise they need. However, contrary to popular belief the behaviour of retrieving an item is not inherent for all breeds of dogs.   Training tip: To start, you need to get your dog to focus on a toy. Wave it back and forth in front of their face a few times before throwing it. As soon as they have chased and picked up the toy, clap your hands and run the other way, which will signal your dog to chase you.   Once they have caught up to you, present them with a treat. This will lead them to drop the toy in order to take the treat. Then you are free to start the process over again.   Some dogs, particularly those with short attention spans, may only wish to chase the toy a few times. Don’t get discouraged. Just try again later. Eventually, your dog will learn to enjoy the game as much as you do.