Did you bring home a new pet this holiday season, or are you interested in teaching your current furry friend better manners? The key to a happy relationship with your dog is excellent training, high quality veterinary care, and a commitment to caring for your dog with lots of attention and love.
While trips to the vet and lots of late night snuggles are definitely in your dog’s future, excellent training takes time. With these simple steps, you can implement some better training techniques for your dog this new year.
If you believe you can train your dog to sit, heel, hush, speak, stay and lie down in a week or two, you might be in for a disappointing surprise. Effective training can take several weeks and even longer with some breeds, so patience is essential. Remember, your dog might be only one part of your life, but you are everything to him — and he desperately wants to please you.
Praise Lavishly, Often and Consistently
Did you catch your dog being good by doing his business outdoors, or sitting or staying when asked? Praise him lavishly. If treats motivate him, offer a small munchie for good behavior. Similarly, correct mistakes with a firm, loud “no” and follow it up with a command such as “sit.” You’ll train your dog faster the more consistently you praise or correct his behavior. .
Never smack your dog’s nose or rub it in his dirty doings. In most cases, firm but gentle corrections are all that is necessary.
Don’t Give Too Much Freedom Too Soon
Your new dog is probably excited to explore your entire home and yard. Unless you’re ready to discover accidents, chewed upholstery and missing shoes, limit your dog’s access to certain areas of your home. Your kitchen may be the perfect place to keep him, especially if it’s a rug-free zone. Baby gates are extremely handy and won’t damage entryways.
If you’re lucky, your kitchen also has access to the backyard — making getting in and out easier.
Walk and Exercise Your Dog
Even if you plan to let your dog out in the yard instead of going for daily walks, you’ll still need to help him adjust to a collar and leash. Put the collar on when you’re behaving affectionately with him, and let him get used to the leash by gently leading him around your home. Helping him adjust makes the walking process smoother for everyone involved.
All dogs, especially larger dogs, need exercise. Yours is no exception, so in addition to letting him run in your yard, start taking him for regular walks as soon as his vet gives you the all-clear. Regular exercise helps with outdoor training, so plan to walk at least 4 to 5 times per day at first. Heading outdoors first thing in the morning also helps with outdoor training. Regular walks can even prevent destructive acts such as chewing that result from boredom.
Many pet owners appreciate the crate, but getting him to sit quietly inside can be challenging. Set up the crate in a place where your dog is comfortable, leave the door open, and place familiar items such as a blanket, bed or toy inside. The first time you use the crate, try exercising him first with a long walk to tire him out. Lead him to the crate with a treat, and praise him when he enters. Leave the door open and don’t force him to stay inside — like other commands, crate training takes time.
Continue to reinforce positive associations with the crate by offering treats, and after several successful efforts, close the door for a short time. As he becomes comfortable in the crate, you can lengthen the amount of time he stays inside.
If you’re preparing to train your dog in the upcoming New Year, or want to teach old dog new tricks, follow these tips to make the process enjoyable for all.