Dog Training Principles

This 1949 DogWorld article gives insight to acceptable methods of dog training more than 60 years ago.

1916 Dog WorldFrom the Archives of Dog World: Enjoy this all-access pass to dog history from the pages of the longest published dog magazine. This content remains in its original form and reflects the language and views of its time. Health and behavior information evolves and only the most current advice should be followed.

The basic consideration in dog training is that your wishes and instructions cannot be conveyed to him in language as you convey a wish or thot to a human being. The barrier of language or communication by sound exists between man and the lower animals although in the dog it has been broken down more than with any other species.

The dog comes nearest of all the hundred thousand species of animal life, to the understanding and interpreting of the mind of the human being and in turn, to the ability to interpret the meaning of man’s words, gestures and movements.

Not only words but the one of voice, the gestures, and at times the surroundings and environment—all must be called upon to convey to the dog in his mind what you wish him to do. Sight and sound are the main avenues of physical approach.

The great point is that you should look at things as a dog looks at them; you mentally should view the world through the dog’s eyes and mind. In almost all cases, the dog is anxious to please; if you punish him for disobedience, it is almost certain that he was unable to grasp clearly the meaning of your command.


  1. All dog training is founded upon “educating” the dog, that is, drawing out of him and developing his natural abilities and instincts.
  2. The command always should be given to the dog in the same words and with the same tone of voice and speed of speaking.
  3. Do not lose your temper while training the dog. If you do, he loses some of his respect for you.
  4. Do not punish the dog for failure to obey unless you are certain that he understood fully what you commanded.
  5. Reward should follow after every act the dog has done properly; punishment should follow after every disobedience or failure.
  6. Reward or punishment should follow quickly after the act. To punish a dog at any time other than instantly after the wrong act, is cruelty rather than a part of training, for the dog, particularly a puppy, does not connect the punishment with the act.
  7. The dog is not to be fooled. He has a sense of humiliation; he has pride. If the dog has been taught to do a certain act, do not give him the command and then trifle with him. At all times let the dog see what you are doing. Always he is to understand that when you say certain things, he is to do certain things; there must not be any break in this seeming cause and effect.
  8. Instruction should not be too long, as a dog, especially a puppy, tires easily. An hour twice daily is sufficient length of time for special training work.
  9. Success must be at the completion of an act of training. The dog is to understand that at the end a certain thing will take place; if he is trailing, he must find the object trailed.
  10. Anticipate the dog’s actions. Think ahead of him. Give your command not to step over a boundary line before he reaches the line.
  11. If the dog does one step wrongly, do not repeat this step but begin again at the beginning for the dog must be taught to consider only successful acts in their entirety.
  12. The dog has a single-track mind. Teach one specific thing at a time. This does not mean that a training period cannot include a half-dozen different tasks.
  13. Try to place each activity and command at or near the same location. If you call “brush,” it should be at or near the place you groom the dog. This rule is based upon the law of association of ideas.
  14. Give the dog a moment’s time for carrying out your command. To demand instant obedience is to confuse the dog.
  15. Have patience. The dog is not a human being. He probably is more successful as a dog than you are as a human being. His pleading liquid eyes and his wagging tail tell that he wants to do what you would have him do but that you are not as intelligent as he, else you would tell him in his language what you wish to say to him.


Excerpted from Dog World magazine, December 1916, Vol. 1, No. 12. For back issues of Dog World, click here.

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