Dog Trainers Swear By These Weird-But-Genius Hacks For Getting Your Dog To Behave Better

The pros are here with the toys, methods, and treats you need.

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Dog parents: You probably know better than anyone just how tricky it can be to train your pup, while simultaneously nailing down the tricks you teach them during training. But guess what? Professional dog trainers have dished these utterly brilliant hacks to get your dog to behave better — and they did not miss.

In addition to the games, devices, and certified methods listed, there are also essentials that the experts themselves say every dog owner needs to have on hand. From leakproof water bottles to a snack-dispensing treat pouch, this list has it all.


Play “The Elevator Game” To Boost Your Pup’s Patience

What pup doesn't appreciate a good challenge for a tasty reward? Shonyae Johnson, the behavior manager for Operation Kindness, a proponent for finding animals the safe homes they deserve, has a few sage tips for improving your doggo's behavior. She tells Bustle, “The elevator game teaches dogs to be patient when waiting for food or a treat.”

Simply place a treat like the Milk-Bone Minis in your hand and hold it up high (this being the top elevator floor), then slowly bring it down toward's your pet's mouth once all four of their paws are flat on the ground. If at any point your pup's paws lift off the floor, raise the treat back up to where you began and continue until your pup can control its impulses. “This method rewards them for being patient and improves basic skills like lying down, sitting, and staying,” Johnson adds.

These chicken-, bacon-, and beef-flavored treats are more than ideal and happen to be just the right size for repetitive treating. With their satisfying crunch and vitamin-rich formula, using these minis for the elevator game is 100% dog owner-approved.


Don’t Give Extra Attention To “Bossy Barking” From Your Pooch

Johnson also advises to not give much attention to demanding barks from your pet, telling Bustle, “If your dog thinks that barking gets him the things that he wants it is time to teach him the exact opposite — barking gets you nothing, or barking makes me leave.” She continues, “As soon as your dog is quiet you can give him the attention that he wants but if he starts barking again, go right back to ignoring him. [...] If your dog barks for your attention or his dinner then simply withholding until he is quiet will teach him that he gets things faster the faster he stops barking.”


Practice Positive Reinforcement With Tennis Ball Rewards

Tennis balls like the ones in this 12-pack of ultra-bright, nontoxic felt balls from Amazon are widely known to capture a dog’s attention and get them excited — and even the experts are in full support. Johnson tells us, “Positive reinforcement works by giving a reward to the dog after a desired behavior is exhibited, making the behavior more likely to happen in the future. [...] The owner throws the tennis ball (reward) after the dog sits calmly (desired behavior).”


Opt For Elevated Training To Improve Your Pet’s Focus

Nicole Ellis, a certified professional dog trainer with Rover, is an advocate for elevated training and specially designed tools to facilitate this method. She tells Bustle, “Train on an elevated platform like an ottoman or training platform like a Klimb, bringing your pets higher and elevated helps them focus, learn fast, not run off and also can prevent jumping on visitors and guests.”

Aside from adding a super functional footrest to your living space, this breezy storage ottoman is the ideal find for the elevated training Ellis recommends. With a soft surface and durable build, say hello to the full package.


Make Sure You’re Socializing Your Puppy (This Comfy Harness Can Help)

As easy as it can be to forget, socializing is huge while ensuring your dog’s life is of the most superior quality. Ellis tells Bustle, “Socialize your puppy early. This means not just meeting other dogs, but also seeing other dogs and not meeting them. Also, your pup should experience sounds like fireworks and garbage trucks, people in uniforms, hats, and more.”

This can be as simple as taking your dog on a walk and making sure to attach an ultra-comfy harness to your pup. A cult favorite is this EcoBark dog harness that’s made with breathable cushion padding and an escape-proof fit that feels both lightweight and protective. Now, your dog can observe the sights and sounds of the world while still being kept in a lane. I’m in.


Take This Portable Playpen To The Park For Socializing From Afar

Taking Ellis’s suggestion to allow your pup to be in a social space without necessarily getting up close and personal with other dogs, this portable playpen is actually brilliant. Available in small, medium, and large sizes, this coffee-colored cloth pen is made of waterproof material and has a zip-down door that makes it as seamless as ever for your pup to go in and out. Plus, there are eight mesh panels that allow your dog to see the outside world while still being cool and covered. My dog needs this, like, now.


Go For A High-Intensity Fetch Sesh Before Training To Get The Jitters Out

Before high-focus training like the Ellis-recommended elevated method, your pup will likely appreciate a fast-moving fetch session to get their jitters out and heart rate up. She tells us, “Dog not focusing? Try training after a nice long walk or game of fetch to take the edge off and help them.” This sports ball launcher comes in several length options and is a dream for the adventurous dogs out there. Plus, with speed-enhancing abilities and a user-friendly design, your pooch will appreciate the quality time before getting into laser-focus mode.


Try Out This High-Visibility Fetch Stick That Passes The Test Of Time

A solid fetch stick that’s bright enough to be spotted from space is also essential for dog owners everywhere. This orange fetch stick is a prime example of a durable toy that passes the test of time and even the most intense chews. On top of boosting the bond between you and your fur baby, this toy is compatible with dogs of all sizes and is just a simple yes.


Treat Your Pet To Some Kibble Every Time They’re On Their Best Behavior

Julia Jenkins, a professional dog trainer, prioritizes gifting your pup with kibble or specially made treats every time they behave on cue or without. She tells Bustle, “When I’m dealing with a tricky dog, the easiest way to communicate what we want from them is by using their daily ration of food and giving them a nugget every time they do something good that we want them to repeat.”

This grilled steak- and vegetable-flavored dry dog food by Pedigree is an Amazon’s Choice winner and is ideal for satisfying your dog’s cravings while also supplying the necessary nutrients. Just be sure to check with your vet beforehand to make sure this is the right kibble for your pet and take note of this puppy-specific food for your babies.


Give Your Doggo Something To Chew On To Avoid “Destructive Chewing”

Harsh Goyal, a dog trainer and pet behaviorist as well as the founder of Improve Dogs, wants to save your living room couch from being bitten apart by your pooch. “Giving them something to chew is a great way to stop them from destructive chewing,” Goyal suggests.

In true chew toy fashion, this one from Amazon is bacon-scented and will automatically earn the affection of your pet. Made with durable nylon material and designed to help promote oral health, this delectable chew toy is, how you say, a game-changer.


Choose A Bouncy Chew Toy That’ll Keep Your Pup Entertained For A Good While

This rubber Kong toy is another chewing option that’ll take over your dog’s attention for a long time while also stimulating their brain. To bring out their inner scavenger, spread pet-safe peanut butter inside the Kong (with your vet’s approval) and place it in front of your dog so they begin searching and working towards the gooey center. Plus, they even make puppy-friendly Kongs for your minis that need a little extra help during teething time.


Tie A Loose Knot On Your Dog Leash & See If It Tightens By The End Of The Walk

Once you’re ready to start taking your doggo on more leash-led walks, you’re going to want to try this tip from Melissa “MJ” Viera, a certified dog trainer and the founder of MJ’s Pet Training Academy. She tells Bustle, “Tie a loose knot in your lead to test your dogs' leash walking. Can you walk to the end of your street without that knot tightening?”

If the knot is tightened by the end of the stroll, your dog might need a tad more training in walking calmly while attached to a leash. One of the best leashes for the occasion? This MayPaw heavy-duty leash with a user-friendly comfort handle and a thick, flexible rope that makes taking your pup to the park a stress-free event. Oh, and it comes in tons of cute colors.


Use The Element Of Surprise By Keeping Training Treats In Different Spots

Viera also has a handy tip to add to the treats-during-training conversation, telling us, “When using food in training, surprise your dog by changing up where you keep the food rewards.” She continues, “A treat bag is great, but once in a while surprise your dog by requesting a few behaviors and then running over to the treat reward that you hid in the yard earlier.”

An easy way to store your treats accordingly is this bone-designed canister-and-bowl set with a bamboo lid that keeps the goods fresh and concealed from plain sight. Plus, there are tons of sizes to choose from so you can select what’s best for your pup and personal space.


Keep A Treat Jar In The Yard For Easy Access During Pupper Training

In the spirit of taking Viera’s advice and switching up where the treats come from, this plastic Lixit clear jar is another *chef’s kiss* way to keep your dog’s rewards protected and crisp for as long as possible. Designed with an airtight seal for maximum freshness and a cutesy paw print design, what’s not to love about this ultra-roomy treat jar?


Change Where You’re Keeping The Treats While You’re On The Go

Taking things to new levels and locations (per Viera’s advice), a portable container for kibble-y goodness like this one is a good idea. She says, “You can also change where on your body the food is kept so your dog learns to listen even when you are not wearing a training bag.” This dog treat pouch attaches to your waist or belt via a carabiner, and a drawstring enclosure helps keep treats from spilling. A mesh pocket allows extra room for a clicker, keys, etc. For added safety, a reflective strip on the front provides additional visibility.


Shake Things Up By Taking Your Dog To Train In New Locations

Dogs require a little bit of adventure in their daily lives — just saying. Viera is a firm believer in this, telling Bustle, “Practice training in many locations even if it looks odd!” She continues, “I practice trick and obedience training in the park and turn trees into obstacles with tricks such as paws up and go circle. This helps dogs learn to listen anywhere. Train in the pet store, parks, friends' homes and anywhere you take your dog. Don't worry about onlookers — that distraction is what your dog needs in order to listen outside of the living room.”

One of the first obstacles to overcome in the process of taking your dog out and about might be the car situation. Make the to and fro hassle-free with this waterproof, nonslip back seat cover that helps protect your car from dirt and fur while also providing a stable cushion for your pet during the ride. Just pick your size and lining shade and you’re golden.


Pack Waste Bags Before Heading Out The Door For Cleaning After Your Pup

Before you and your dog step out for the day, you’ll want to make sure you have the essentials packed and ready to go. Poop bags are usually a must, and this dispenser accessory has a built-in LED flashlight as well as a metal clip for leash and backpack attachment. Available in several vivid shades, this accessory has it all and makes taking your pup out for a walk a rather peaceful affair.


Hydrate Your Fur Baby On The Spot With A Specially Made Water Bottle

Behold: the most premium dog water bottle to ever be made. Taking an essentials-first mindset while taking your pup on the go, water is a clear necessity to have available for your dog at all times. There is, however, a question of how said water should be properly transferred. Luckily, this genius leakproof gem exists and is made specifically for on-the-go hydration. Just pick your color, fill up the cup, seal, and press the button to release the liquid into the built-in trough upon your dog’s request. The container will stay secure and no water will be wasted. I give it a 10.


Hide A Fun Tug Toy In Your Back Pocket As A Reward

On the topic of play, Viera also suggests that you “hide a tug toy in your back pocket to reward your dog.” This squeaky, bacon-scented tug rope is the prime example of a dog’s favorite toy. Not only will your pup get the taste of meat, but they’ll also love the satisfying pull and squeak that comes with chewing on a toy that offers this much. Plus, it’s lightweight — so whether you hold it in your back pocket or throw it around the backyard, the experience is a piece of cake.


Try Out The “Magic Fall” Method To Reward Your Pup For A-Plus Behavior

Viera is also a fan of the “magic fall” training method, suggesting to “surprise your dog by dropping to his or her level with over-the-top praise and a jackpot of treats for something really amazing such as a perfect recall.” Never underestimate the power of encouraging pups with extra enthusiasm when they do something cheers-worthy.


Add Soft Tunes To Your Queue For An Ultra-Calming Effect On Your Dog

Certified trainer Mikkel Becker, who’s also the lead animal trainer for Fear Free and a dog behavior counselor, loves to calm down her dog with mellow music. Becker tells Bustle, “Have your dog listen to soft rock or a calming audiobook — research shows they have a calming effect on pets. I would put this on every day as a calming exercise, especially if they're in the car or at home by themselves...”

To make sure the soft tunes are actually registered by your dog, this bestselling portable speaker is just the thing. Available in a wide array of colors and rich in sound and bass, this wireless speaker is ideal for taking on the go for a seaside listening sesh with your furry best friend.


Swap Out Negative Attention For Encouraging Reinforcements

On ensuring your dog’s behavior is fueled by positive motivation, Becker tells us, “Don't reinforce bad habits — one of the biggest mistakes pet parents make is giving attention to bad behaviors, like yelling at your dog to stop barking. Even if it's negative attention, that's still attention!” She continues, “Make sure to reinforce the moments when your pet is being quiet and peaceful, playing with their toys, etc.”


De-Stress Your Dog With A Soothing Pheromone Diffuser

As dogs are also extremely sensitive to smell, it’s imperative to “clean any surfaces your dog came in contact with when stressed, then add in calming pheromones in their place,” Becker advises. This soothing diffuser kit is a simple wall plug-in that nearly replicates nursing pheromones while having no obvious odor. Helping to provide relief from stressful triggers like separation anxiety and thunder, this diffuser is one of the most effective ways to restore your pup’s calm demeanor in no time.


Approach Your Fur Child With A Few Of Their Favorite Things (Instead Of Taking Them Away)

Becker also advises dog owners to “prevent resource gathering.” She tells Bustle, “Rather than always approaching and taking away, be sure you're approaching and giving treats, snacks, etc.” Becker continues, “Give them a replacement item like an appropriate toy. Don't only approach your pet to take things away from them or discipline them.” Top-notch pet parent mode: unlocked.


Teach Your Dog To Embrace Their Inner Canine By “Scavenging” For Food

In being a proud pup parent, there’s always the question of how often le inner animal should be encouraged. Becker tells Bustle, “Remember, don't expect your dog not to be a dog! Behaviors like scavenging for food, digging, or barking are expected and natural. Give them outlets to do these natural dog behaviors like an indoor or outdoor dig pit, different kinds of food puzzles, etc.”

This adjustable snuffle mat is not only ultra-therapeutic but also an incredible exercise for both your pup’s mind and body. Whether you’re hiding snacks in the mat for your dog to smell or popping a few small toys in between the felt strips, stimulation tools like this one from Amazon are a must-have.


Exercise Your Pup’s Brain On The Regular With A Hidden Treat Puzzle

The Outward Hound Dog treat puzzle is another bestselling find that makes the quest for food a downright noble one. Just pop your goodies of choice into each panel and place it in front of your pooch to flip, lift, and slide open in search of their well-deserved treat. BTW, this is the best for high-energy pups that need something to focus on for a minute.


Implement Interactive Feeding With A Differed Puzzle That Slides

This interactive Joansan slow feeder is another great option for anyone in search of a sliding food puzzle for their pup. Gather a few batches of kibble and disperse them throughout the toy, making sure to slide the removable covers over securely so your pup has to work to get to their grub. Problem-solving sessions and smoother digestion, commence.


Turn Treat Time Into A Game With A Dispensing Globe Toy

This treat-dispensing globe toy is another super fun, expert-recommended way to get your pups’ brains working and bodies moving. With slow-feeding benefits and mind-stimulating perks, this wonder ball is about to become one of your pup’s go-to toys. Before adding this gem to your cart, keep in mind that this toy should not be used for toy dog breeds or aggressive chewers, per the brand.


Satisfy Your Pup’s Sweet Tooth With These Honey-Dipped Treats

Let’s talk about flavors — because, yes, our pups deserve the most delicious treats of them all. Courtney Briggs, the head trainer at Zoom Room, tells Bustle, “A lot of humans don’t realize that dogs have a sweet tooth. Many new-to-market dog chews dip the chews in honey to satisfy that sweet tooth.” She continues, “Honey I’m Home treats offers a variety of honey-dipped treats. But remember, moderation is key, always.”

These expert-recommended honey-coated buffalo chews are a canine favorite and will go a long way in rewarding your pup with a tidbit of joy. Plus, the crunchy texture and grooved design are specially made to help clean your pooch’s teeth. Just don’t forget to contact your vet to make sure these chews align with your dog’s diet.


Stock Up On Chewy Peanut Butter Nuggets That Your Dog Will Absolutely Adore

As per Briggs’s sweet treat tip, these chewy peanut butter nuggets are the perfect bite-sized reward for your pup. These snacks are 100% vegan-friendly and are made with local Boston peanut butter for the ultimate hit of sweetness and protein. There are also other flavor options available like pork/apple and turkey/cranberry so that your pup gets a little dose of everything. Again, check with your vet before adding these to your pup’s diet.


Use Baby Food Pouches To Store Blended Kibble Or Treats For The Road

Beth Sautins, CTC, a certified dog trainer and counselor at Doggy Geeks, is a huge fan of these squeezy baby food storage bags that are incredibly versatile and light to take on the go. She tells us, “My new favorite hack is reusable baby food pouches, which make it so easy to reward your dog for good behavior on walks. Instead of carrying tiny treats in a treat bag, you can carry one baby food pouch!” Sautins continues, “You can even blend up moistened kibble, which is useful for dogs on restricted diets,” she suggests.

These reusable, dishwasher-friendly pouches are up to par and have rave reviews on Amazon for their durable make and ease of use for everything from applesauce to kibble smoothies. Plus, fun patterns.

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