November 23, 2021
Wondering how in the world you’re going to have the holidays and a puppy? Don’t worry, we’ve got you!
Regardless of age or background, all dogs can be taught basic commands and many can even go beyond that to learn tricks.
It can be a fun and engaging activity that bonds you with your dog. It can also be difficult and frustrating at times if you are unsure of what tools you need. To train your dog at home you will need a few things: a background knowledge of what to do, a few supplies, and patience.
Keep reading to help equip yourself with what you need to make training fun and easy!
No two dogs are made the same and understanding what motivates yours may involve trying a few options. The main categories of motivators are: foods, toys, or praise.
For food motivated dogs, you can use a portion of their kibble from breakfast or dinner for your training session. Higher-value treats like dried sardines, canned tuna, boiled chicken, or bits of hot dogs are great to try out for stubborn pets too.
If your pup is a picky eater, no matter what you offer as a treat they may not respond to it, so, opt for the toy or praise options first. The toy should be anything their eyes are glued to.
No matter what method you choose, the tool that will work best is the one that makes you the most interesting thing around (even more interesting than the squirrels and other dogs you may pass while training!).
If your pup is motivated by bright blue tennis balls, then only break them out during your training sessions and put them away afterwards. Giving them access to something that excites them for short periods of time helps them stay engaged and focused.
For dog food this is not a possibility of course, so consider incorporating lower calorie training treats into the routine if utilizing the food-motivated method. Only give your pooch their favorite non-kibble treat during training and differentiate them from the everyday treats.
One of the most crucial things to keep in mind while training your dog is that it may take a little longer than expected. After all, you are learning something new, too! Know that practice really does make perfect.
Be easy on yourself. Even the less efficient training days where the tricks are not executed to perfection are still a really special bonding experience for your dog. They just love being with you and the skills they pick up are an added bonus for them.
You might be thinking, “there are so many commands, where do I begin?”. Believe it or not, there is something even simpler than “sit”; eye contact!
As you walk around the training zone you’ve chosen, reward them with a simple word like “yes!” every time they look back at you, and follow your “yes!” with a treat or reward that aligns with what best motivates them. Rewarding them every time they do this right connects you with your pet and teaches them to look to you for guidance. It also encourages them to listen for commands and stay close by.
Once they understand that certain actions elicit a “yes!” and reward from you, they will try to figure out what else they can do to get the same thing to happen again.
You can even try expanding on what they already know. For instance, if your dog knows the command “lay down”, pay attention to how they are laying and if both of their legs line up with their front ones, wait to say “yes!” until they shift their weight to one side. Laying in a more relaxed position can actually relax your dog and it also takes them longer to stand up; making them work their mind and body just a little bit harder for that reward.
A well-trained dog is a happy dog because having manners means they can go more places with you. Behaving well is key for the highest levels of safety when out and about. Training, and the rewards it brings, strengthens trust between dog parent and pet and opens up a new world of places to explore together and possibilities of adventure.
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