You've welcomed an adorable new fur baby into your home, now comes the important task of training your new best friend. To help you get off on the right foot (and paw), our Berkeley veterinary team shares some helpful dog training tips.
Training Your Faithful Four-Legged Friend
Whether your dog is big or small, a puppy or a rescue, every dog can benefit from learning (and mastering) a few basic skills. But training dogs is a real skill; most of us need support and guidance along the way.
If you have a new pup in your life our vets highly recommend enrolling in a local puppy class to help both you and your new dog learn the basics. If you aren't able to attend puppy classes in your area, or if your dog is older, many reputable trainers offer virtual lessons that teach pet parents how to train dogs of any age how to walk and leash and behave well in all kinds of situations.
Advice on Dog Training
Whether you are looking for small dog or big dog training advice, there is no better place to start than with your veterinarian! Your vet has years of experience dealing with dogs of many sizes, breeds and temperaments and can provide you with loads of helpful advice to get you started, or even help you enrol in puppy school or behavioral classes to meet your new furry friend's needs.
Be sure to contact your vet as soon as you adopt your new four-legged family member. Booking a first vet visit early allows your vet to check for parasites or other existing health concerns that should be taken care of before they become worse (or spread to other pets in your home). Your dog's first vet visit is also the ideal time to discuss training techniques. But, until you can get your new dog to the vet for their first checkup, here are a few dog training advice tips to get you both started:
Set Firm House Rules
When it comes to training, dogs respond best to consistency. It’s only fair to be clear with yourself and your family on what you expect of your new pup before you bring them home.
Decide what your pup is and isn’t allowed to do. Can your new fur baby sleep in your bed? Stake out a spot on the couch? What about rooms - are any rooms off-limits? Clarifying your expectations avoids confusion and indecision later in the process.
Teach Your Dog to Come On Command
One of the first basic commands your furry friend will need to master is “Come!” Always use your pet's name when commanding them to come and follow up with positive reinforcement when they obey.
As your pet develops, try the command in other situations, such as when their attention is elsewhere, and get your pup used to responding to the command in any situation.
Reward Good Behavior & Be Quick With Treats or Praise
One of the first tenets of dog training is to always reward good behavior with positive reinforcement. Whether it’s a pat on the head, belly rubs, scratches in their favorite spot or a treat or toy, your pup will learn fastest if rewarded for good behavior quickly and consistently.
Puppy-Proof Your House
If you have kids, you’ll remember child-proofing your house to keep them safe and reduce risk of danger - or your prized possessions getting destroyed. Do the same for your puppy by providing a safe place to put your pup whenever they are not being directly supervised, such as a crate or pen, with safe toys that are exclusively theirs.
Don’t Delay Teaching Moments
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 - 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. Consistent repetition gets great results.
Remember: Dogs Do What Makes Them Feel Safe & Happy
One of the most common mistakes we see dog owners make is that they attribute human emotions to their four-legged friends.
While we love them dearly and they feel like a member of the family, they’re not human, meaning they aren’t vengeful creatures who plan to upset us or trick us. They do what makes them feel happy or safe at the time, and that can be both good and bad.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.