Training your dog requires time, patience, and diligence by both the pet and pet owner. But, training doesn’t have to be a stressful or negative experience. In fact, making sessions light and fun can help you and your pet achieve success without any negativity. Take the stress out of training with the following tips.
#1: Encourage positive reinforcement
It should come as no surprise that when we reward pets for good behavior, they will be more inclined to repeat that behavior to gain desirable attention. On the other hand, scolding or physically reprimanding your pet when she urinates on the carpet or jumps on visitors will teach her to be scared or fearful. While these negative techniques may be effective in achieving the desired skill, simultaneously instilling feelings of fear is unnecessary. Catch your pet behaving well and reward her with one of the following:
- Small, healthy training treats, or pieces of her kibble
- A favorite toy
- A game of fetch or chase
- Words of praise
- Gentle pats, or belly rubs
Don’t be afraid to reward small achievements, so your pet knows she is on the path to success. Remember, dogs typically want to please their owners, so making a big deal out of rewarding good behavior is one of the most effective training tools. Your grandiose gestures and praise may seem silly to you, but they are powerful, and give results.
#2: Use a clicker
Clicker training is a popular, positive way to help your dog understand good behavior. Clickers are small, hand-held devices that the trainer (i.e., you) holds and clicks the instant your pet performs the desired behavior. The timing of the click is crucial and must be immediately followed by a reward. Clickers are great supplemental tools for positive-reinforcement training. You can read more about clicker training here.
#3: Get the whole family involved
Every family member must participate so your dog becomes accustomed to taking commands from the whole family. Start off by calling a family meeting to discuss training methods, and agree on some ground rules. Talk about the rewards you will use during training, and what to do if your pet is misbehaving or caught soiling in the house. Consistency will help your pet know what to expect and keep her on track, but involving all family members will help her stay flexible and adaptable, too.
#4: Consider hiring a professional trainer
Resorting to a professional dog trainer does not mean you’ve failed at training your pet. Some dogs, including certain breeds, are notoriously difficult to train. In addition, finding enough time and patience to endure training can be a deal-breaker for some pet owners. You can get help with training in a number of ways, such as organized classes, which are great for learning basic commands, and have the added benefit of allowing your pet to socialize with other dogs. A one-on-one trainer may be more appropriate for puppies or adult dogs with behavioral concerns. You can discuss your concerns with your Stone Ridge veterinarian, who can refer you to a veterinary behaviorist, if necessary.
Think your pet doesn’t need training? Your pet may follow basic commands and be house-trained, but many pets can benefit from year-round training sessions to refresh their memories, and to prevent boredom. In fact, many undesirable behaviors, such as digging or incessant barking, can be minimized with training. Despite the old adage that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks, training sessions can help keep the mind sharp and the memory clear, so we encourage these types of activities for senior pets, too. Contact us for more information.