Tips on Training Your Pet

It's back to school time and as the kids go back to getting their brains in shape we have some helpful hints on how to get your dog's brain in shape. You can teach an old dog new tricks and help young pups refresh their manners.  The benefit of teaching your dog tricks and manners is to keep his brain busy and can make him more manageable.  It can reduce the stress of having people over to the house and the chaos that may happen when the doorbell rings.

Some basic commands that we recommend all dogs know are: sit, stay, and leave it or drop it. These verbal commands can keep your dog safe and prevent him from hurting himself or getting into trouble. If your pet is food motivated, you can use a treat to reward him when he accomplishes the task that was asked.  Dogs, like small children, need to be rewarded (or corrected) right when the event takes place. If you were to reward a sit after your dog has stood up already you are no longer teaching sit. You are teaching  your pet to stand. On the other hand, if your pet has an accident on the floor, punishing him after the fact does not help him know what he did wrong.  We will talk more about that later in this blog. 

When asking your dog to perform a task, associating a hand signal along with a verbal cue will help your dog understand your request. Make it simple and have everyone in the home use the same verbal and physical cue.  Say "Sit" while using your hand signal at the same time. When the dog sits, reward with a treat as quickly as possible.  Then, verbally praise your pet "Good job, Charlie!"  This is the same pattern you will use for any task you would like to accomplish with your dog. 

Some dogs catch on much faster than others, so be patient. Training sessions should be kept short (five to ten minutes) but can take place multiple times a day.   Three, five minute sessions through out the day will help your dog stay engaged and focused. I like to use the term "All done" and the ASL sign language sign for it to help my dogs know when we are done training.  I try to finish the session before they lose interest that way I end on a high note.  When you do multiple sessions through out the day, you are creating purposeful bonds with your dog. Remember to always use your cues whenever you ask them to do anything.  Remember practice makes perfect.

Potty training a young or an old dog can be incredibly frustrating.  It takes time, patience, and high value rewards.  Potty training means multiple trips outside and some trips may not be a successful one. Make sure the whole family uses the same cue to get the dog to eliminate; "Go potty"   is a very common cue we use at our hospital. Give your dog time to sniff around and take in his environment. Sniffing is one of your dog's main ways to gather information around them. When your dog starts to posture to go, give good words of encouragement but do not get too excited.  You may scare your dog away from doing the deed.  When your dog is completely finished, this is when you celebrate.  Lots of verbal praise and treats should be given on the spot.

Make sure to watch your dog for cues that he needs to go outside. Sniffing, circling, going into another room away from you are all common signs that he may need to go outside.

A trained dog makes for an excellent life long friend. All of us at Fairway Animal Hospital would be more than happy to direct you to further resources and local trainers if you need some in house help.  

Share this Post: