Training Tips Training your dog benefits both the animal and the owner by encouraging bonding and trust. Although all animals are different and need to be trained in different ways, here are some general tips to use when training any animal:
-Offer POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT to reward your pet for doing well: do not hit or yell.
-Find a QUIET AREA with few distractions so your pet can focus.
-Use a HIGH PITCHED, FRIENDLY VOICE when giving praise.
-Use a FIRM TONE when offering corrections and commands.
-Be CONSISTENT: training needs to be done all the time, using the same methods.
-Be PATIENT, do not expect your pet to learn things right away.
In all of the following training exercises, make sure to remember the tips above. Also make sure your pet is hungry and you have ample treats. The best treats to use are small, jerky treats that are easy to handle and quick for your pet to eat.
SITTING :Some people find it helpful to use a leash to keep their pet from wandering off while training them to sit. The first step is to lead your pet into a sitting position. There are two ways to do this: you can either run your hand down your pet's spine until you reach the hip joints and gently push down until they are sitting, or you can lead your pet back into the sitting position with a treat by guiding your pet's nose up and back until they have no choice but to sit. Right before your pet sits, say "sit" (or whichever word you choose: the important thing is to be consistent) firmly. Give your pet a treat or verbal praise-or both. Mix up the types of praise you give your pet: it will keep them interested in the training, which will make it easier for you and more fun for them. Repeat this process until your pet begins to respond to the command, and then try to get your pet to sit without leading them into the sitting position first.
POTTY TRAINING:The most important tools for potty training a puppy are vigilance, patience, commitment, and consistency. If you don’t have the time to follow through with the training or if it sounds like something you do not want to do, do not get a puppy. Adopt a dog that is already housetrained at a local shelter. If you decide on a puppy, here is a potty training plan that will work if you are consistent and committed.
You must always closely monitor your puppy to prevent accidents, enthusiastically reward your puppy when they do what you want, and work out what went wrong when an accident happens: because no matter how diligent you are there is going to be an accident. When an accident occurs, make sure to clean it up with a product made especially for cleaning up urine and feces to take away any lingering smells. If you were not there when the accident happened, do not under any circumstance punish your puppy for it. If you catch your puppy in the act, interrupt them by saying “outside” and immediately take your puppy to the designated spot. Give your puppy a treat if they finish going to the bathroom in the spot.
Puppies require a regular schedule. This schedule will teach your puppy that there are specific times to eat, play, and go to the bathroom. When setting up your puppy’s schedule, be mindful that a puppy can only control their bladder one hour for every month of age—this means that if your puppy is a month old, they can hold their bladder for an hour, at two months they can hold it for two hours, and so on. If you go longer than your puppy can hold it, your puppy will have an accident. Make sure to take your puppy outside frequently—preferably every hour—and immediately after they wake up, during and after playing, and fifteen minutes after eating or drinking.
To make it easier on you and your puppy, put them on a regular feeding schedule: this will also make it easy to know when your pup will go to the bathroom. Do not feed your puppy too close to bedtime and make sure to pick up your pup’s water dish about two and a half hours before bedtime to reduce the likelihood that they will go in the middle of the night. If they do happen to need to go at night, don’t make a big deal out of it: turn on as few lights as possible, don’t talk or play with your puppy.
In the house, make sure your puppy is always where you can see them. Your puppy cannot have free run of the house until your pup has been potty trained for at least six months without an accident. Use baby gates, a leash, or closed doors to keep your puppy from wandering out of site and going to the bathroom in the house. When you're unable to watch your puppy at all times, they should be confined to an area small enough that he won't want to eliminate there. The space should be just big enough for them to comfortably stand, lie down, and turn around in.
A good idea, especially if you are often occupied and unable to watch your puppy often, is to crate train your puppy. Just make sure that the crate does not become a place where you punish your puppy or allow yourself to neglect your puppy because of the crate. The crate should be large enough for the puppy to stand and turn around in. If it is any bigger, they puppy will be more likely to eliminate in it. If you want to think ahead, many crates come with dividers, so that you will not have to buy more crates as your puppy grows.
When you take your puppy outside, always take them the same way. Pick a spot and always take your puppy to that spot using a leash. Use a word or phrase (“go potty” or “hurry up”) to encourage them to go the bathroom. Keep saying it during their elimination. Once your puppy goes to the bathroom immediately reward your puppy with either a treat or verbal praise or both. Do not wait until you get back inside: bring the treat with you or, if it was unexpected, verbally praise your pet. Again, in all training exercises, switch the praise you give them to keep them interested. Only play with your puppy after they have eliminated. While waiting for your puppy to go to the bathroom, stand off to the side and wait. If your puppy does not show any signs of needing to go to the bathroom, take them back inside and try again in twenty minutes.
SOCIALIZATION:When you get a puppy or a kitten, the first few weeks of their life (12-16 weeks) are the most crucial for socialization and training. When you first get your pet, make it a goal to introduce them to as many people, places, things, and combinations as possible. Introduce these in a positive manner: this means letting the introduction occur naturally at the pace your pet feels most comfortable with. If you are introducing your pet to something, never just shove them into the situation. This will do more harm than anything.
Some key things to think about when socializing your pet: make sure you include all different ages and nationalities when introducing your pet to humans. Of course, try to introduce your pet to as many different kinds and sizes of animals as well, but do it safely and possibly at a distance or with some sort of barrier. Always be monitoring your pet when doing introductions.
It is also important for your pet, to be well-socialized, to be familiar with different sounds, movements, and surfaces. Vacuums, hair dryers, brooms, lawn mowers, tile floors, and more are all important to introduce your pet to. Make sure to also teach your pet caution for things like the lawn mower. While they should not be afraid of them, they should not treat them as toys either.
Never allow your pet to use your hands, feet, or other body parts as a toy. If you allow this behavior when they are young, it will be hard for your pet to learn later that biting and scratching humans is unacceptable.
Make sure to accustom your pet to car rides by taking them for short drives with lots of encouragement and praise. Never let the vet’s office be the only time your pet gets in the car, or your pet will start to be afraid of riding in the car with you. Speaking of the vet, a well-socialized pet should be used to getting examined. At home, you should check your pet’s eyes, ears, toys, mouth, gums, teeth, belly, and so on to help your pet feel comfortable and accepting of being touched in all of those places.
Finally, handle your pet at home for at least forty minutes a day. This will help you bond with your pet and vice versa. It will also get them used to being held.
BARKING:If you find the cause of your dog’s barking, you can usually stop it by removing the cause. There are many causes of dog barking. The most common are: territorial, alarm, anxiety, boredom, attention-seeking, greeting, frustration, or compulsion.
1. Territorial: If your dog barks when other pets get too close, attempt to better socialize your pet. To prevent this behavior, make sure you socialize your pet at a young age.
2. Alarm: If your pet is barking to tell you there is a threat, find out what the threat is and then (if the threat isn’t a threat) attempt to accustom your pet to it.
3. Anxiety: Sometimes smaller dogs bark at anything they see as a threat. Socialization will also help with this problem. Otherwise, remove your pet from the situation they see as threatening.
4. Boredom: If your pet is barking because they are bored, make sure they have plenty of toys to keep them occupied. Give them attention only when they are not barking.
Greeting: If your pet barks at you in greeting and you want it to stop, simply ignore your dog for the first five minutes you get home. Do not make a big deal about coming and going. If you are consistent, this will pay off.
5. Frustration: If your dog is not getting enough exercise or mental stimulation, they will bark. Make sure you spend time with your dog and give them plenty of exercise.
6. Compulsion: If you let any of the behaviors above go on for too long, barking becomes habit and soon, your dog will be barking at anything and everything. This is harder to stop.
If nothing is working with your dog, or you just got a puppy and want to prevent barking, the best way to combat barking is to teach your dog to bark. By teaching your dog to “speak” and be “quiet” you can teach your pet the appropriate times to bark. Here is how:
Put your pet on a leash and secure them. Stand in front of them and, in a commanding tone, tell your dog to “speak”. If your pet doesn’t bark, repeat the command until they do. Once your dog barks, give them praise and/or a treat immediately. If you can anticipate a bark, say “speak” and reward. Once your pet does well with the speak command, begin teaching your pet that being quiet on command is also good. Give the command “quiet” and reward your pet as soon as they are quiet. If your pet is barking, and the barking continues, say “no” and withhold the reward. Keep training like this for no more than fifteen minutes at a time. Continue the training until your dog consistently responds to the commands even when the reward is not given. You may want to incorporate hand signals with your commands too. Just make sure to be consistent with the training and the commands.
WALKING ON A LEASH :Walking is a great time to exercise and bond for both you and your dog. Of course, the younger your pet is, the easier they will be to train; however, don't give up on training if you have an older pet. If your pet isn't used to wearing a collar, put it and the leash on while your pet is eating and let it hang loosely by your dog's side. This will help your pet associate the leash with something positive. Once your pet feels comfortable with the collar and leash, follow it around the house for a few minutes. Do this multiple times, for longer time periods each time, and then try the same thing outside.
Hold the leash in the hand you plan to always use (consistency is vital), with a treat in your other hand to coax your pet to walk along your side. When you're ready to start walking, say "heel" to encourage your pet to walk forward. Praise your pet when it does well. If your pet tries to pull ahead of you, once it reaches the end of the leash say "heel" again and begin to walk in the opposite direction. This will force your pet in a new direction so it has to catch up to you. Praise your pet when it catches up. Keep doing this each time your pet tries to run ahead to teach it that it must stay by your side while walking. If your pet lags behind, try to verbally encourage it to come and give a gentle jerk on the leash if needed.
CHEWING :There are multiple reasons why pets chew on objects. Some of the most common reasons are: teething, improper confinement, boredom, separation anxiety, need for attention, improper chew toys, and lack of exercise. Puppies begin teething between 5 weeks and 6 months. If your pet is teething, a freezable chew toy will help ease the pain and give the puppy a productive object to chew. If this is not the case, your pet may be chewing out of boredom. By giving your dog plenty of exercise and entertainment, they will be less likely to start chewing objects. If your dog gets bored easily, make sure there are plenty of durable chew toys and beef tendons around. Do not give your dog any human items to chew on: this will only confuse your pet and encourage them to chew on other items. If your pet does chew on human objects, make a loud noise and give your pet their own toy. Be diligent. If your pet is chewing on a shoe (or another human object) take the object and replace it with a toy that belongs to your pet. **If none of these solutions work, a taste deterrent like Bitter Apple works to make objects less appealing.
JUMPING :Having your pet jump up on people can be dangerous, especially if your well-meaning pet jumps on a child and knocks them down. To keep your pet from jumping up on people, it is important that everyone in the household follows this routine: when your pet jumps up on you, do not back away. Instead, step forward so your pet loses their balance. While doing this, completely ignore your pet. Once your pet is down, tell your pet to sit. Once your pet sits, praise or give treats. This may take a while, but after consistent use your pet will stop jumping on people.
LAGGING BEHIND:Pets may lag behind because they feel insecure or unsafe, so it is essential to assure your pet that walking is both safe and fun. To do this, be carefree and upbeat as you talk to your pet. Say things like, “this is great!” and “isn’t walking fun!” Do not use a reassuring tone and do not tug on the leash. Any time your pet walks by your side, reward them with a special treat used just for this purpose. Over time, your pet will begin to feel safe and secure and enjoy going on daily walks!
PULLING ON THE LEASH:To start off your training, play some games that involve pulling that will (strangely enough) facilitate teaching your pet not to pull on the leash. Say “quickly” and start running with your pet and then after a block begin to slow down and say “steady” and then command your pet to sit. Stay stopped, and once your pet sits and looks up, give your pet plenty of praise and then say “quickly” and begin to run again. Repeat this over and over until your pet promptly slows and sits upon command. Now you can begin to teach your pet how to walk calmly on a loose leash. First, make sure your pet wants to walk by your side without a leash. You can do this using treats around the house. Go around obstacles, up and down stairs, and in and out of different rooms. Periodically give treats or bits of kibble as your pet follows you. After about a week of practice, begin the same exercises in fenced areas, like other people’s backyards and dog parks. When taking your pet for walks, encourage them to walk by your side and periodically praise and reward them when they do. Repeatedly change your pace and stop frequently. Say “steady” and slow down, and “quickly” when you speed up, like your pet already has learned. The frequent stops will allow your pet to sit and refocus on you.
If this doesn’t work, try a training collar, like the one by Titan. Although its spikes look daunting, it is actually safer for your dog than a regular choke collar. Regular choke collars can hurt your pet’s neck, while the Titan collar gently lets your pet know not to pull. Other options include a harness or a gentle leader. Do not let the equipment do all the work for you, though. Even with the training supplies, every time your pet starts pulling, promptly turn around and walk the other way.