Here are a few training tips for new parents. I hope to post pictures of all of my new clients that I've had the pleasure of meeting with little anecdotes to go along with them.
Top 10 Basic Training Tips For New (And Current) Pet Owners:
1. Keep Training - as owners, we tend to think that once our pup has learned a trick, we can stop "training." However, this is not the case. Pups learn throughout their lifetime, so if you wish to avoid a bored and destructive fur baby, always train. Always reinforce the positive habits and tricks.
2. Think "Dog" - Take time to think about how your dog perceives the world, and use this knowledge to make training easier.
3. Exercise Your Dog (this is a big one!) - To help avoid destructive behaviors such as chewing, it is important to exercise your pet. Dogs, like humans, need exercise to stay healthy. And it's an added bonus that you can get the exercise while enjoying time with your pet. Not only do walks help keep a pet calm, but this time is also a time for bonding. Cherish it.
4. Be a Confident Leader - To feel secure, all dogs need a calm, confident leader. Effective leadership isn't about dominating your dog and making him submissive toward you. It’s about being a teacher and building his confidence. You can achieve that by encouraging and rewarding good behavior.
5. Improve Your Dogs Diet - Look at your dog’s diet, and see how you can improve it. You are what you eat, and the same is true for your dog. Many behavior and medical problems can be attributed to poor diet, so make sure your dog is eating the very best. I persnoally feed and recommend Acana; you can read more about all the yummy ingredients here: Acana Pet Foods. I did have a client last night tell me about a new food product called The Honest Kitchen. I personally have not had a chance to check it out, but I can tell you that the concept behind the food (gluten free and all natural ingredients) seems to be something worth looking into. You can find more information here and I plan on checking with my local pet store to see if I'm able to get a sample to review on here.
6. Keep Your Dog Active - Sign up for an activity that you both enjoy, such as an agility class, flyball, heel to music, etc. Dogs get bored easily, so get yours out and moving.
7. Dog Care - Get your dog microchipped, if you haven’t already. Also, don’t forget his yearly checkup with the veterinarian. The first one is a debatable topic which I will post more on at a later time but the second is always a must! I would recommend a check up every 6 months to reduce the chance of any illness or issue progressing to a non-treatable phase.
8. Keep Playing - Keep playing. One of the best ways to bond with your dog is to play games that you both enjoy. Play is a great stress reliever for both dog and human.
9. Keep Your Dog Safe - Have fun and enjoy your dog. A dog should never be a burden. If you take the time to train your dog, you'll give him the tools he needs to live successfully in a human world.
And last but not least...
10. 5 Rules to Positive Training - How do you cope with a dog that is showing anxiety-based behaviors such as aggression, inappropriate urination, guarding, destructive chewing or barking? Know that your dog is not trying to take over your household, even though it might seem like it. Positive reinforcement (i.e., giving the dog a reward in the form of praise, play, food or toys when it behaves in a way that you like) has been shown to be the most effective training method for these types of behaviors. As you begin the process of modifying your dog’s behavior, BE PATIENT. Positive training relies on consistency, repetition and the following general rules:
- Tip #1: First, identify WHY your dog is behaving this way. You cannot effectively deal with a behavior unless you know the root cause behind it.
- Tip #2: Once you know the WHY, then you can ask yourself HOW to treat the behavior. It is vitally important that you understand your dog. I don’t believe you can train a dog well without first understanding how he perceives the world. You can then use this knowledge to make training easier.
- Tip #3: Learn to talk and think dog. Good communication increases the bond between dog and owner considerably. Dogs don’t speak our human language, yet many people treat them as if they do. As a result, the dog ends up confused.
- Tip #4: Be kind! Never hit, scream at or yank your dog. Dogs that exhibit aggression to humans or other dogs are under a great deal of stress, even though they might appear confident, dominant or just plain nasty. Think how you feel when you are fearful, angry or even violent. It is not a good place to be. Don’t combat fear with more fear—recognize your dog’s concerns, then slowly and gently teach him to overcome them.
- Tip #5: Go very slowly when dealing with anxiety-related behaviors. The best way to rehabilitate an aggressive dog is to change how he perceives the stimuli that make him anxious. Do this by slowly showing your dog that the thing he fears is no longer scary. This technique is called desensitization. If your dog is guarding the couch, food bowl, or front door, show him gently that there is another way to feel that makes him happier and more confident. For example, shower him with attention when he is on the floor, and not on the couch. Show him that good things happen to him when you approach his food bowl, because it means you'll be adding more delicious food.