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Tips For Training Your Dog

January 1, 2024

Did you know that January is Train Your Dog Month? It’s also Unchain Your Dog Month, and Walk Your Dog Month, but we are going to focus on training in this blog. It is crucial for your canine buddy to know and obey basic commands. This isn’t just important for his safety, but also for the safety of others. This article by a local vet offers some insight into Fido’s petucation.

What Commands Should Every Dog Know?

Man’s Best Buddy is very smart! Fido can learn over 100 commands, including some quite complicated ones, like turning off the lights, loading the dishwasher, or fetching specific items. However, you don’t have to teach your canine friend anything super complicated or flashy. Just make sure he at least knows the basics.

The most important ones are as follows:

  • Sit
  • Stay
  • Come
  • Heel
  • Lay Down

There are also a few more commands that are definitely very helpful, such as:

  • Down
  • Leave It
  • Drop It

TIming Your Dog’s Training Classes

Fido can get bored quickly … except when he’s stalking a squirrel, begging for bacon, or watching you grill cheeseburgers or steaks.

long, dragged out training sessions may just bore your pooch. YOu definitely don’t want that! Not only will this make your pup’s  attention wander,  he may even begin to actively dislike training.

If you’re working with Fido at home, aim for about 10-15 minutes at a time.

Choosing Treats For Training

Your canine companion probably won’t get too excited over a report card with straight As, and if you give him a gold star, he may just try to eat it. Treats are a much better alternative.

You can give Fido anything he likes, as long as you know it’s safe. Stick to small portions. Otherwise, you might accidentally overfeed your adorable student. Training treats are an easy choice, but you can also make your own.

Here are a few possibilities:

  • Hot dog slices
  • Shredded chicken, turkey, or deli meat
  • Kibble bits
  • Mini pepperoni bites (use sparingly)

Another hack: Microwave a hot dog in a bowl of Cheerios with a little water. The result? Hot-dog flavored Cheerios.

It may be helpful to use something high-quality during certain lessons. This would be something Fido doesn’t get too often, like steak or hamburgers. Ask your veterinarian about this.

Always Be Consistent When Training Dogs

Oftentimes, we forget that dogs do not understand nuances in language. Even small variations in wording can confuse your furry student. Use the same words or phrases every time. Your pet may not understand that ‘Sit’ means exactly the same thing as ‘Fido, sit down right now!’

Consistency is crucial to all aspects of behavioral training and reinforcement. Another example? Don’t punish your dog for getting on the couch one day and then reprimand him for it the next.

Focus On The Positive When Training Dogs 

If Fido does something right, shower him with affection and praise. Our canine companions thrive on praise, and they look adorably proud of themselves when they receive it.

Avoiding Negative Reinforcement is really important. Some trainers use things like prong collars and shock collars successfully, but these can often do more harm than good, especially with novices. Use positive reinforcement instead.

There are a few factors to consider here. Firstly, dogs are highly emotional creatures and can easily develop negative associations with certain things. Therefore, it’s important to avoid creating a sense of dread or fear in your dog during training sessions. Additionally, your furry companion may not comprehend why they are being disciplined, particularly after the fact. For example, if you arrive home to find that your dog has chewed up your shoes, it’s best not to punish them. This could potentially frighten or bewilder them and may even lead to fear towards you. Remember that this approach could have negative consequences and make training more challenging than necessary.

Your pet may not understand the concept of punishment, but you can chide him in a stern, disapproving tone if you catch him doing something wrong. Just remember that our four-legged friends don’t understand it as much as we do. Fido may not understand what he did wrong, or why you were mad at him. Focus on the long game.

What Is The Best Time To Train?

It’s better to follow Fido’s dog schedule than the clock for this one. Select a time when your furry buddy has already gotten his daily doggy workout in. If your dog has already burned off his zoomies, it will be much easier to work with him. If your pup is too eager to chase that squirrel, you won’t have much luck. You should train at the same time every day, ideally.

How Do You Avoid Common Dog Training Mistakes?

Poor training can almost be worse than no training, and can take a long time to undo. It’s important to do a lot of research, so you know what to avoid. 

Inconsistency and negative reinforcement are already two of the key concerns we’ve discussed. Another common mistake? Repeating commands over and over and expecting your dog to react differently. If something isn’t working, go back to the drawing board. You may need to do more research or hire a professional.

Also, don’t work with your furry pal if you are feeling stressed or grumpy. If you’re in a bad mood, Fido will quickly note that you aren’t feeling cheerful or happy. He may then associate that sour vibe with training. (Spending time with Fido is a great way to cheer up: you just need to be careful not to send mixed signals.) 

Last but not least, you’ll need to reinforce Fido’s training. Even after Fido learns what ‘Lay down’ means, give him treats for obeying.

Finally, don’t move too fast. That will just confuse your cute student! Work on one command at a time, be consistent and positive, and don’t be afraid to ask your Rockbridge, VA veterinary clinic for help or advice if you need it.

When Should I Start Training My Dog?

The best time to start training Fido? Yesterday! The second best time? Today!

Petucation can be started at any time. While a young puppy may not grasp obedience commands, he will benefit from being petted, held, and handled, and can start learning the ins and outs of being a good boy. (Socialization is also crucial, but that’s another topic.)

You don’t have to wait until your pet has been housebroken to teach him obedience commands. In fact, housebreaking and training can go hand in hand. (Or hand in paw.)

If I Can’t Train My Dog, What Should I Do?

Fido’s age, personality, and background will all factor into how quickly he picks up the basic commands he needs. It’s also easy for people to make mistakes when training pets, especially if they haven’t trained them before.

It may take some time and money now, but it will be well worth it in the long run if you have a fearful or reactive dog.

Contact us, your local Rockbridge, VA animal hospital, if you have questions about training your pet! We are always happy to help! 

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