Advice on Dog Training
Whether you choose to train your new puppy or rescue dog yourself, attend classes or hire an instructor, every dog can benefit from their owners taking some basic dog training advice from a professional.
Our vets at Animal Emergency Clinic, see many dogs in emergencies with various levels of training. Some accidents and tragedies may even be prevented by ensuring your dog is well-trained to avoid situations that can cause trauma or physical harm, such as ingesting toxic household items or getting into fights with other dogs or animals.
It's important to understand that the best-trained pets respect their owner as the alpha. Diligent pet parents also train their pups with consistency in mind so that their four-legged friends always know and understand what they can expect.
In this article, we'll share our best dog training advice, including tips on puppy proofing your home, teaching your dog to come on command, and more.
Puppy-Proof Your Home
Just like you'd child-proof your house to keep kids safe, you'll need to puppy-proof your home to keep your new four-legged friend out of danger (and to help protect your prized possessions from getting destroyed).
Place all toxic household items and other substances out of your dog's reach, always put groceries away promptly so your dog is unable to snack on something that may be harmful to them, and pick up any small objects or child's toys they may be tempted to chew on.
Give your pooch a safe and comfortable place to stay when you're not supervising them directly. A dog pen or crate is an ideal place for your pup to relax and play with safe, dog-friendly toys.
Set House Rules
Dogs respond best to consistency when being trained. That's why it's vitally important to be clear with yourself and anyone living in your home about what you'll expect of your puppy before you bring him or her home.
You'll need to be clear about what your canine friend is and isn't allowed to do, and which areas or rooms are off-limits. Is it okay for them to sleep in your bed? Can your pup curl up next to you on the couch? Should any areas of the house be off-limits (for example, the laundry room or garage, which present much opportunity for trouble)?
By understanding which areas of your home your pup will naturally need access to and mapping out the areas that should be closed off, you'll help everyone avoid confusion and indecision after your new canine companion arrives at your house.
Teach Your Pup to Come on Command
"Come!" is one of the first basic commands your new four-legged friend will need to master. Always use their name when speaking this command, and be sure to follow up with positive reinforcement, such as praise and/or a tasty treat.
As your pet matures and learns, try getting them to 'come' in other situations, when they must shift their attention from something else, and get them used to responding even if there's something more interesting than you vying for their attention (such as other people, animals, food, or objects).
Be Quick With Treats & Praise as Rewards
To get your pooch to respond well when training, it's important to always reward good behavior with positive reinforcement. Whether it’s a pat on the head, belly rubs, a scratch in a favorite spot, a treat or a toy, your pup lives to please you and appreciates being rewarded when they get it right.
Teach Your Big Dog How to Walk Away
Training a big dog can present some unique challenges. Our advice is always that it's imperative to start their training as soon as possible after they come home. One of the most useful things you'll want to teach them is how to turn 180 degrees and move quickly in the other direction.
Using a "walk away" cue can help you and your large pooch avoid situations such as confrontations with other animals, over-excited children, and other potential trouble.
Know a Teaching Moment When You See One
Just as you want to reward good behavior, you want to recognize teaching moments as they happen. Seasoned dog owners will tell you that pups live in the moment and need lots of repetition.
If you’re going to enforce a rule or lesson, it has to be done immediately after they do the deed. Dogs don't dwell on the past, they’ve already forgotten what they’ve done a few minutes later, so they will truly be confused and unable to make the association between their actions and corrections or training techniques unless they’re done right away. Fast, consistent repetition gets the best puppy training results.
Remember: Dogs Do Whatever Makes them Feel Safe or Happy
Many dog owners make the mistake of attributing human emotions to their canine companions. We understand that you love your dog and that your furbaby feels like a member of the family, but keep in mind that your pup is not human.
Dogs simply aren't vengeful creatures who plan to upset you or annoy you, they just do whatever makes them feel happy or safe in the moment, which can result in both good and bad behaviors. When your dog misbehaves, just try to remember that it wasn't planned and respond to the behavior right then and there. Your dog lives in the moment, and when dog training, so should you.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding people or pets. Always follow your doctor's advice regarding asthma or other allergy symptoms.