5 Things Every Dog Should Know

…in my opinion!

The pressure is on when you get a new dog to teach them as many tricks as possible. There is nothing wrong with that, but often more important things get missed out. Here are 5 things every dog should know, in my opinion!

1.Doorbell Manners

More than half of my clients ask me to help them with their dogs door etiquette! Doorbells quickly become associated with visitors. This could be a good or bad thing, but in no time the doorbell will have the power to change your dogs mood in a heart beat. Many dogs get heightened at the potential of visitors. When that get’s out of hand, it won’t matter if your dogs intentions were good, or not, an over emotional dog could be dangerous.

If your dog loves having visitors, the doorbell will make him super happy. If that goes too far, he could end up jumping up, barking, circling, or even grabbing at loose clothes and hands in his excitement.

Check out this video for more about managing doorbells and knocks!

If he’s more of a watch dog, the doorbell will represent the arrival of a possible threat to your front door/checkpoint. This is a serious time for him as he’ll need to make sure everyone is safe, and by whatever means necessary. This could mean protective behaviours such as growling, herding, and guarding. If this got out of hand, or the visitor responded in the wrong way, this kind of situation can quickly escalate to a bite.

Teaching your dog a doorbell routine that is both calming, but also shows him you take home security seriously, means you can easily welcome visitors into your home – risk free.

a large great dane jumps up on a woman. The dogs paws are on her shoulders and he towers over her.
Jumping up can quickly get out of hand and become dangerous.

2. How to settle

Many problems are caused when a dog is unable to settle themselves. A hyperactive dog is constantly looking for more stimulation and will beg for extra attention, play time, chews, chasies, or any kind of interaction. They are also vulnerable to separation problems. A dog that can’t settle is never going to cope well while you are gone. As soon as they run out of appropriate stuff to do they will immediately start looking for something else to entertain themselves.

If you google “hyper dog” you’ll find tons of people recommending more activity; longer lasting chews, bigger snuffle mats, and more interactive puzzles. But these just make things worse.

It’s ok to create quite time so your dogs brain and body can actually rest. Learning that it’s ok to settle, and be bored, is an important skill for a dog. So instead of trying to entertain the pup all the time, take away everything that is stimulating like food, chews, and toys. Then turn down the lights and sit quietly with them for a while. Use a lead or crate if they struggle at first, they’ll get the idea in no time.


A reliable recall is an absolute game changer. A dog that can be trusted off lead in safe spaces will get to explore safely, choose their own new friends, avoid lead frustration, and they’ll get more exercise. There are benefits to you too. You won’t have to worry about lead pulling while your dog drags you to every dog or sniff, and you’ll be able to play off lead games with your dog. As if that’s not enough, trust is a bonding experience for you both too!

If you need help with your recall… Join my 30 day recall challenge this November! Get step by step instructions to guide you through the process, help you overcome distractions, and avoid common mistakes. Plus, get access to the exclusive challenge group on Facebook for support and extra tips!

4.Other people and dogs are boring

Many problems come because we oversell how exciting people and other dogs are to our pups. During the socialisation process we want to teach our dogs not to be afraid of others. This is a good thing, mostly, but when we go too far they get a distorted view of the world.

When we encourage them to approach every dog to play, they start to expect play from every dog. Their ability to assess situations and detect threats reduces, and they could get themselves into trouble. The same goes for meeting people. If they think every person wants to be their friend it’ll not be long before your pup is jumping all over every person or dog they meet. This is just the kind of thing that causes fights in park, and not just between the dogs!

Instead, take them to busy places, but reward them for calm behaviour only. No need to approach everyone that passes, just watch and let your pup get bored!

a frightened dog holds their paw up. The eyes and ears are stiff and alert indicating appeasement.
An anxious pup showing appeasement behaviours. Listening is one of 5 things every dog should know.

5.That you are listening

Less of a skill to teach, than an expectation to give! But, if you can learn to recognise your dogs behaviour changes, you will know straight away if your dog is not comfortable in a particular situation. This is essential if your pup finds themselves in a situation that scares them or they aren’t coping with.

If they can depend on you to advocate for them, they will look to you for support and guidance. However, if we ignore the signs and push them past their limits, they will start to make their own choices about how to manage the situation. If we trap our dogs on leads, they only have the option to fight. So defensive and aggressive behaviours easily become their first choice.

Are you struggling with your dogs behaviour?

Private Dog Behaviour Consultations are currently available in the Dundee area and beyond. If you are looking for help solving your dogs behaviour and training problems, then please get in touch!


I have more than 15 years experience solving all kinds of canine behaviour problems, at home and in rescue. A bad experience with a old fashioned dog trainer inspired me to learn more about dog behaviour, and it is because of him, that I wall never use harsh methods when training and rehabilitating dogs.

I work privately with clients in Dundee and the surrounding area with dogs of all ages, breeds and issues including anxiety, aggression and hyperactivity.

In 2009 I was proud to publish a book about dog behaviour and training. How to be the Perfect Pack Leader (by Caroline Jenkins) remains popular today and a follow up is expected very shortly.

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