If you have a dog than pet training is likely a topic you are familiar with. While no one expects their dog to be as highly trained as service dogs, we would all like pups that at least respond to the basic commands.
There is no doubt that training your dog is imperative. A properly trained dog is a dog that is safer. Additionally, training your dog helps you to avoid relationship problems with your dog because they potty in the house or chew up furniture. How do you get it done? The experts make it look so easy. You can do it just follow a few simple tips.
Let’s Dispel Some Myths First
You do not have to have tons of real estate to have a dog. A lot of people put off getting their first pup until they buy a house, that is nonsense. It is not necessary to have tons of space filled with dog playsets to have a well-trained dog. Have a safe fenced in area with LED landscape lighting is nice, but as long as the dog has room to exercise and as taken for frequent walks, you’ll have a happy pup.
Another big myth is that you “cannot teach an old dog new tricks”. While it can be hard to break some bad habits in older dogs it does not mean that you cannot do it. It also does not mean that older dogs are unteachable. It does mean that you will have to work a little harder to break bad habits as your pup ages.
Every dog is trainable. Dogs just need to know what they should be doing to keep you and the rest of the pack happy. With direction, love, and consistency any dog can change their ways. Of course, the best time to start training your dog is when they are a puppy, but if that shipped has sailed, don’t give up.
Here Are Things To Avoid
Never, ever, raise your hand to your dog, never hit them with a newspaper or any other object. It is cruel and completely unnecessary to physically punish your dog. Additionally, physical punishment can backfire in the worst way.
Hitting a dog can cause the dog to associate your hands as a threat. When dogs feel threatened they can become aggressive because that is their only defense. Do NOT hit your dog.
Making it all about the treats is also not a great way to train your pup. Sure, you should use treats at the beginning of the training, but then wean them off. This way they continue to respond to commands even when there is no food reward.
The goal of a pet training program is to create a relationship between you and your pet where they respond to commands out of love for you. If you give your dog a chance they will fall in line and respond the way you want them too.
The biggest problem with pet training is usually the human doing the training. Some common issues that can keep your pet from succeeding in their training include:
- Inconsistency. The quickest way to fail at pet training is to lack consistency. Your dog needs a consistent training schedule and some firm ground rules to succeed at training.
- Lacking firmness. If you want to train your dog to stay out of the crawl space under the house, you have to make it clear all the time, that the space is off-limits. You cannot ignore the behavior when you do not want to deal with it. Firm consistency is the ticket to training your dog.
- Worrying about hurting the dog’s feelings. It can be very hard to tell your precious pet no, but it is something you need to get used to. Saying “no”, correcting unwanted behavior, and dealing with those sad eyes is just a part of the process.
Training your dog will be a lot easier if you get in the right headspace and are committed to the process. You have to establish yourself as a pack leader and consistently lay down the law to your dog to get the best results.
A little over 20% of dog owners say that their dog is trained to roll over, while over 90% of dog owners said that their dog responds to the sit command. What does that tell you? Start simple. The simpler the command the easier it will be for your pet to find success with their pet training.
Before you ever get to the sit, stay, commands, start with making sure your dog understands the only place they should potty is outside. You do not have to spend hours hiking around with your dog to get them to potty if you do things the right way.
Potty training 101 is really training that bladder and the bowels as well as curating the wanted behavior. An easy way to start potty training is a walk outside 30 minutes after eating, every single time they eat. If you feed on the same schedule every day without veering off course, it can make potty training easier.
Beware, puppies have tiny bladders, so a good rule of thumb is to invite them to potty outside every hour until they get a little bigger. Some people get creative. They take artificial grass for a lawn and put it on the patio and teach Fido to potty there when they are young so they do not have to walk them every hour or so.
Make going to the bathroom outside a big deal. When your dog eliminate where they are supposed to be generous with the praise and give them treat, just so they know what a great choice they are making.
It is a process that can be frustrating at times, but with patience and consistency eventually, your pup will get the idea, and you will be able to have fewer rug cleaning events. If there are accidents scolding after the fact really doesn’t do any good. Clean it up and move forward.
You have to be able to control your dog not only because it makes life easier but because it is safer for your dog. You never want to make it okay for your dog to take off and keep on running. Sit, stay and come are the three biggest commands to focus on.
If your dog will respond to the sit command, and the stay command, as well as come when they are called it will help you to feel confident in taking your dog places and having company over.
Sit is the easiest of the three. Getting your dog to sit starts with just saying “sit” while you press lightly on their backside and give them a treat when they comply. Just keep doing it over and over again. The more you do it the quicker they will learn.
Once you get your dog to respond to the sit command, the next one to work on is the stay command. Sit and stay go hand in hand. Repeat “stay” in a strong firm voice as you step backward and away from the dog. Every time they get up to follow you, repeat the sit command, have them sit, and start over again. Bring the treat to them when you feel they have sat long enough (about 5 seconds initially).
An important part of pet training is socialization. A lot of pet owners get nervous when their dog is in contact with a strange dog. It is important that you are fully relaxed when your pet meets new dogs or people. They will feed off your tension and in turn, will feel tense themselves.
The best time to socialize your dog is when they are young and to do it in non-territorial spaces. For example, a dog park is a good place. Bringing your dog to someone’s home to meet their dog can be a risk unless the other dog is completely socialized and does not mind visitors in their yard.
Dogs are pack animals which means they need companionship and they thrive when they can meet new dogs and new people with confidence. The sooner you acclimate them to the other inhabitants in the world the better off they will be emotionally.
A lot of unwanted behaviors are related to anxiety in dogs. Most of the anxiety comes from not understanding if humans or other dogs are a threat. Pet training should include socialization to help alleviate feelings of anxiety about the unknown.
Treats and toys are great training tools. You can also fill a bottle with a few pennies to use that as a training tool. When your dog is in the middle of an unwanted behavior like digging up the hydroseeding or tearing up a fence you just installed in the yard, shake that bottle and give them a firm no. The bottle shaking will absolutely get their attention and stop the behavior immediately.
Treats in training should be used sparingly. It can be tempting to hand them out every few minutes but you should really make your dog work hard for that treat. If you give them out too often, they become less of a treat and more of an expectation.
Instead of reaching for treats all the time, reach for their favorite toy. Show them the toy and let them know they cannot have it until they respond to the command.
Pet training is work but it should be fun as well. Your dog should look forward to spending time with you. The more fun you make the more willing your pup will be to participate. There is nothing more rewarding for your dog than your attention. They love when they make you happy and when you exuberantly praise them.
Try to hold training sessions at the same time every day. Make training your special time and give your dog your full attention. It is a great way to bond and a great way to develop the behaviors that you want in your pet.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
If you feel like you just are not making progress don’t be afraid to get some professional help. Fewer than 50% of dog owners take their dog to a professional training class. A group class has two clear benefits. You get to socialize your dog and you get that professional support that could be a game-changer for you.
As mentioned earlier in many cases it is not the pet’s inability to learn, it is the trainer’s inability to teach that affects the outcome. A professional training environment can help you both to learn the things you need to know.
If you have tried everything that you can do including the professional group class it may be time to look into a professional dog boarding training type situation. Sending your dog to a boarding training school can be difficult but it can be the best solution when you have tried to do it yourself and gotten no results.
Improving Your Relationship With Your Dog
One of the biggest benefits there are to having a well-trained dog is that it will help you to really enjoy your relationship with your dog. An unruly pet can cause property damage, bite, act aggressively toward other animals, and really be hard to live with.
Taking the time to figure out pet training will ensure that you and your pet enjoy a strong bond and want to spend time together. Your pet will enhance your life as few things can. Pet training ensures that your pet is calm and relaxed and able to fully enjoy the lifestyle that you provide for them.