The Best Boxer Dog Training Advice You’ll Ever Get (10 Tips That Actually Work)

Whether you end up with a well behaved Boxer or a maniac depends a little on your dog’s innate temperament and a lot on how you train your Boxer.

By using positive reinforcement techniques and avoiding places like dog parks which can undermine the behaviors you’re trying to teach, it’s possible to raise a Boxer that listens and does what he’s told.

Here are 10 essential tips for how to train your Boxer, tailored to the unique temperament and tendencies of this lovable but sometimes testing breed.

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1. Use Only Positive Methods With A Boxer Dog

The only suitable dog training techniques for Boxers are those that use positive reinforcement.

This means no harsh methods and no physical punishment — these won’t work and will damage the relationship between you and your Boxer, which is the basis of all good behavior.

So what constitutes positive reinforcement?

Rewards can be anything, including simple verbal praise and petting.

Find what your Boxer values and will work for.

This might be food — keep the treats healthy! — but it may also be a game of tug or some other form of play.

Keep training sessions short and upbeat.

In the beginning it will be mostly about building rapport and engagement by playing games and being a source of fun for your dog.

You will also want to equip your Boxer with the building blocks of everything else you will teach hereafter: focus and impulse control.

These are two of the…

Only train when you’re in a good, patient mood yourself.

Boxers aren’t necessarily the easiest breed to train, so stop if you sense yourself starting to get frustrated or bored.

Multiple brief sessions of just a few minutes are better than a single long one each day.

Your Boxer puppy’s attention span will be short.

You can start with basic obedience commands like sit and lie down and progress to more complex tasks.

Always make sure your Boxer succeeds more than he fails, finish on a high note and leave your pup wanting more.

But how do you discipline a Boxer puppy without wounding him?

A firm “No” or “Uh uh” is fine, but withdrawal of attention or ceasing the activity will often be sufficient to communicate to your Boxer that his behavior was inappropriate, and isn’t worth repeating.

2. Get A Clicker And A Long Line For Your Boxer

Having the right equipment to train your Boxer is half the battle.

As well as the usual gear, you will do well to have:

  • A front-attaching harness like the RUFFWEAR Front Range Harness — for better control than a back-attaching harness and gentler on the neck than a collar

That’s it!

You don’t need to spend a lot on expensive gadgets.

Save your money and spend it instead on some dog training books or online training courses (more on which ones are worth your time, later).

3. Don’t Take Your Boxer To Off-Leash Dog Parks

This is key.

Off-leash dog parks are a trap that most of us fall into as new Boxer owners.

Unfortunately these canine mosh pits teach our dogs all the wrong things.

Chief among them: that other dogs are a cue to go berserk.

Overexcitability is one of the weak spots in the Boxer dog temperament, among a great many positive Boxer dog traits.

Not to be a party pooper but..

If you expose your Boxer to dog parks during his critical socialization windows, or at any time, the experience is likely to significantly set back your Boxer’s training and sow the seeds of behavior problems you may spend years trying to undo.

Not to mention the risk of dog fights, which are only a matter of time in these settings.

Dog daycare is equally inadvisable.

There are far smarter ways of socializing a Boxer.

4. Train Yourself First, Then Your Boxer

Dog trainers often say they are actually people trainers.

It’s true the hardest thing about training your Boxer is knowing what to do and how to do it in order to get the desired response from your dog.

In other words, you’ve got to educate yourself before you can get the best out of your Boxer.

The following dog trainers offer a mix of books and online training resources using dog training methods that work with Boxers:

  • David Codr, who runs Dog Gone Problems and has lots of free and very instructive videos online

If you are going to attend local dog obedience classes, or hire a dog trainer for private lessons, try to find one experienced with Boxers and their quirks.

Positive reinforcement and reward-based trainers only!

5. Be Consistent With House Rules For Your Boxer

Remember that training happens at every moment, not just when you’re actively having a training session.

Everything you do sends a message to your Boxer and teaches him how to behave around you, including what he can get away with.

The “People first” principle is a valuable one.

You can help reinforce your Boxer’s place in the hierarchy by making sure the human family members always go through doors first, followed by dogs.

The same applies to resources like food — by always eating and feeding children before giving your Boxer his dinner, you again tell your dog he is a follower, not a leader.

A Boxer that knows his place can relax, calm in the knowledge you, the actual leader, have things under control.

The “Nothing for free” rule is another one you should implement.

This means your Boxer must earn every privilege.

Want dinner? Sit that butt on the ground.

Like a pat? Stop jumping on me first.

A third handy concept is “It’s your choice”, a game invented by dog trainer Susan Garrett.

The idea is you never force your Boxer to do anything or manhandle him into position.

There are simply choices and consequences.

If he chooses to lunge for the food rather than “asking” for it nicely with a sit?

That’s your choice, pup, but the consequence is that I cover the treat with my hand and don’t lift it until you behave.

You can implement this approach with anything your Boxer wants.

Want me to open the door so we can go for a walk?

Back up and sit down.

Choose to stand up and push in front of me?

Ok, but I will just close the door back up until you show some manners.

There are plenty of life skills to work on in the course of the daily routine, such as:

6. Exercise And Mentally Stimulate Your Boxer

A tired Boxer is a good Boxer.

If your Boxer is at a loose end or bursting with pent-up frustration, you can count on it coming out as behavioral problems.

The first ingredient for a contented Boxer is providing enough outlets for his exuberance.

Exercise your Boxer before a training session to ratchet down his energy levels a little and allow him to concentrate.

For mental stimulation, try not only obedience training but teaching tricks, doing canine enrichment puzzles and playing games like “Find it” that require your Boxer to sniff out hidden objects.

Activities where he has to think and problem solve will tire your Boxer out much faster than physical exertion alone.

Nina Ottosson designs some great dog puzzles for Outward Hound.

Snuffle mats like the STELLAIRE CHERN Nosework Feeding Mat provide great stress relief.

7. Give Your Boxer Proper Nutrition And Care

You mightn’t necessarily make the connection, but food and other aspects of care play into your Boxer’s mood and behavior — just as what we eat and put into your bodies affects how we feel and act.

Kibble is no more appropriate food for your Boxer than a highly processed diet is for us.

Fresh, natural raw food will support your Boxer’s physical health and his psychological wellbeing, flowing through to every aspect of his life.

Neutering is another commonly accepted practice amongst dog owners in the US, but one that undermines a Boxer’s health, making many diseases more likely.

Behavior problems have been linked to removal of the hormone-producing sex organs.

8. Get It Right With One Boxer First

There’s a temptation to think a misbehaving Boxer might settle down if given a playmate to focus his excess energy on.

While two Boxers can be a delight and certainly provide each other with companionship, they can also double the chaos, amplifying any existing behavioral problems.

Getting a second Boxer because your first is running amok is a bit like having a baby to save a failing marriage.

Do you really want to wade in deeper when you can’t solve the problems you already have?

9. Nip Boxer Misbehavior In The Bud

Here are some how-to instructions for tackling behavioral issues that commonly arise in the breed:

Aggression in Boxers can be caused by a variety of factors ranging from breeding and neutering to situational dynamics and poor management.

If a Boxer is resource guarding or displaying food-related aggression, you can manage it by teaching a strong “Give” or “Leave it” command, among other things.

Food aggression is best prevented during puppyhood by accustoming your Boxer early to the fact that you will reach into his bowl while he’s eating.

10. Keep Going With Your Boxer’s Training

With a million competing priorities it’s easy to get your Boxer to adulthood, breathe a sigh of relief and then completely drop the ball on training.

Training a Boxer is a lifelong commitment.

As your Boxer masters certain skills, the need for others will probably present itself as your lifestyle changes and evolves.

Your Boxer will be happiest when he’s provided with opportunities to keep learning.

Conclusion

Training a Boxer can be a little different to training other breeds.

Persistence is going to be essential.

Stay flexible and keep trying until you find things that work for your dog.

The more reliably can train him, the more he’ll be able to participate in your life and the less stress and aggravation you’ll encounter as an owner.

A well behaved dog is welcome in all sorts of places where an out-of-control one will have no access.