You may be one of many lucky Americans to be gifted a cute, cuddly pet recently, but did your new pup come with a training manual? While getting a new dog may have sounded like the best gift idea ever, the responsibility of pet parenthood can be, well, challenging at times. A new puppy or even an older dog requires structure, rules and attention to ensure an obedient, confident and well-mannered pup is being nurtured. This also helps them better understand their role and place in the family.
From adopting healthy social skills to emulating good behaviors, training is necessary and crucial to raising a happy, healthy and friendly furry friend. While training is a requisite any dog owner should embrace and put into practice on a regular basis, many people struggle to commit to the charge.
Sure. Training is challenging work, and there are a variety of approaches one can move forward with. But if a dog owner does not commit early on, the negative characteristics a dog can latch onto can easily morph into a long journey of correcting unpleasant habits and behaviors…some that may even be costly or dangerous. So why not get the struggle out of the way and get to training that new pup of yours today?
Before you get started, you may want to have these training
essentials on hand:
• Training clicker (or marker)
• Slack leash (four to six feet)
• Crate, pet gate and/or pet pen
• A favorite toy
• Natural treats of your choice.
According to veterinarians and experts in the field, these five tips will guarantee you and your new fur baby will thrive in 2020 and on!
• Praise Positive Behavior with Positive Reinforcement. This is as simple as it sounds. When your pup performs good behavior, always be sure to reward him. Whether it’s a tasty treat or a favorite squeaky toy, demonstrating praise for a positive action will be something your pup will pick up on quickly. Additionally, utilizing a clicker or a marker will serve as an audible cue to place emphasis on the correct behavior you want repeated. Positive reinforcements can vary from treats and toys to belly rubs and bear hugs. Just be sure to remain consistent to cultivate positive actions for the long run.
• House Train at 12 Weeks. Like children, dogs need to learn when and where to go. This means they too must learn to hold it—controlling their bladder and bowel movements. While this can take months to master, success entails patience, consistency and…plenty of cleaning products to clean up the accidents that will happen. To help avoid accidents throughout the house, it is perfectly okay to confine your pup to one single space at a time while he slowly learns where he can go. Consider using pet gates to keep them in a single room without entirely closing them off from the rest of the family. As your pup become more cognizant of the right time and place to go, he can be allowed increased freedom throughout the home.
To help minimize accidents, be sure to take your pup out first thing in the morning, every half hour throughout the day, after meals and at night before everyone retires for the evening. Every time your pup does his business outside, give him the praise he deserves.
• Start with Basic Commands. You’ve heard these before: Sit, stay, down (or lay), come, and heel. While there are abundant commands a dog can be taught, these basic commands are the ones introduced early on, especially if you want a polite pup that others can enjoy being around.
Again, any of these actions should be praised with positive reinforcement that is of high-value to your pup. Remain consistent with your cues, praise and repeat. For younger pups, keep these training sessions short, anywhere between five to 10 minutes a session.
• Embrace the Leash. While every dog enjoys free range play, it’s important to teach the basic skills of walking on a leash, especially when sharing a path with others. Having your dog professionally trained to walk on a leash ensures your safety and the safety of those around, especially in crowded places where your dog can become overwhelmed, anxious and unpredictable. To get started, be sure to have a suitable collar, a slack leash and treats on hand. Begin with short sessions and instruct your dog to stay on one side as this will prevent your pup from crossing your foot path, potentially causing a fall or worse.
When on walks, it is ideal to train your dog to follow along your side or behind you as this demonstrates you are in control of any given situation.
If your dog is like most, he may want to make an abrupt stop or pull on the leash. Instead of following his lead, troubleshoot this behavior by walking in the other direction to show him you are still in control and that he needs to pay attention. Whether your pup stops when you stop, or he restrains himself from chasing a squirrel that run across his path—reward all positive actions immediately to continue promoting them.
• Encourage Friendliness in Your Pup. While some dogs are instinctually inclined to be guard dogs, and in some cases demonstrate aggression toward strangers, dog owners should urge their pups to be comfortable with outsiders if the family is at ease. A treat that is rich in protein and robust in flavor will serve as a strong motivator for dogs no matter their age.
Apart from human visitors, your dog should also know how to play nicely with other dogs as he will be sure to run into plenty at the park or at the vet’s office. Social skills are not only for humans. Dogs need to be socialized too, and this training should be started as early as possible. Training your dog in his early months that interactions with other dogs can be a positive experience will foster a positive perspective for future interactions. It helps to start with an already trained dog that plays well with others. And again—reward all positive interactions!
Everyone loves the idea of owning a dog, but the reality of the responsibility isn’t always for everyone. To raise a loving, happy, well-behaved pet, owners must take their responsibility seriously, which means adjusting busy schedules to ensure time is being dedicated to their new family member. A bonus to a well-trained pup is you’ll have puppy sitters readily available anytime you want to go out of town!