Basic Training Tips
Written By: Misa Nash Edited By: Alex Adaway
The beginning of the year is a great time for focusing on being better. Practicing good habits can be helpful to the whole family, including our pets. Often times we hear the saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” but no matter what age your pet is, training is important for the happiness of your home.
The first thing to consider is the breed. Each breed has different needs, which means you’ll have to change the training habits accordingly. Sporting, herding, working and hounds dogs all need lots of exercise and a purpose. Hide and seek, fetch, or tug-of-war are all great games to play with very active pets. Training them to place their toys in a toy box or help with a household chore is a great way to keep their minds challenged. Toy, terrier and non-sporting breeds don’t necessarily need a “job,” but challenging their mind is just as important. Teaching them to “speak,” give “handshakes” or including them in your daily exercise routines can give them a sense of purpose.
After researching your pets’ needs and deciding the task you would like to teach, make sure you are consistent. Whether you are giving a task or working on behavioral training, make sure you keep a regular schedule, constant training tactics, and positive reinforcements such as an extra smelly treat, favorite toy, or play time. Consistency is key with any training. Adhering to a strict schedule may not be beneficial to every human or pet. A flexible schedule may be more ideal while keeping exercise and feeding times the same. Giving rewards throughout the day will help you show leadership and ensure your pet is always paying attention to your commands. Providing a schedule can also help with potty-training and crate training.
With crate training, make sure to create a quiet, enclosed area away from the hustle and bustle of your home. Your pet needs a safe place to rest just like you. Provide soft bedding and place favorite toys in the area. Each time the pet enters the crate, give a treat. This lets the pet know that this is a good place. Try not to send your pet to the crate when disciplining. It will become associated with negative feelings.
Instinctively, they will not want to sleep in the same place they pass stool or urinate. If you are having bathroom issues with your pet, catching them in the act is very important. Reprimanding after it has happened can create confusion. Try clapping loudly or making a noise to startle them in order to distract them from pottying. While outside with your pet, be sure to give lots of positive attention and treats after they potty in the designated area. Having other pets can either help or hinder the potty training process. If you have other potty trained pets in the house, the pet you are training should, ideally, have the urge to mark where the other pets have urinated. This act can be a sign of establishing dominance.
When bringing a new pet into a home with existing pets, it can seem very overwhelming. Make sure to take your time with this process. Having your fur family meet the new member in a neutral area is best, where no one has established dominance. Have a second person walk existing pet, while you walk the new pet. Letting them sniff each other is ok, as long as you are both being attentive and reading the pets’ body language. Give treats during the interactions as a way of letting the pets know this is a positive meeting. When everyone is comfortable enough to go back to the new home, be sure you are still attentive during any interactions with the new pet.
Whether training a new pup, or pet you’ve had for a while, consistency and patience are most important. Consulting with your veterinarian about tips for your pets’ breed and personality will be most helpful through this process. Not only are you training your pet, but you’re also creating better habits for the family.