Good Dog Training: 4 Tips For Better Pet Behavior
Whether you’re house training a puppy or attempting to teach an old dog new tricks, executing good dog training can be an uphill battle. The hard truth is that it takes dogs time to acclimate to any new situation. Especially when they are in their infancy and having to be reintroduced to the idea of family - going away from their mother/litter to your home - you can understand why they might have a chewy field day with your favorite pair of sneakers.
Yet, while disobedience and misbehaving can be tolerated during the initial adjustment period - you don’t want your dog to be unruly forever. That’s why you need to practice specific and targeted dog training to establish the correct behaviors for your pet from the start.
When setting up good dog training, you could consult an expert or go at it alone. You could even try a combination of the two methods. Regardless, as a dog owner, you should know exactly how to take care of your pet, how to communicate with them and what steps work best to promote obedient behavior.
To get you started on the path to good dog training, let’s talk about 4 tips and tricks you can use for better pet behavior.
Good Dog Training: 4 Tips For Better Pet Behavior
Start With a Routine
From the moment your new puppy strolls through the door, you should have a set schedule and routine in place to take care of their daily needs. In fact, this plan should be set and laid out prior to bringing your dog home.
A routine is incredibly important, whether you’re a dog or a human, having an outline of what needs to be done and when to do it instills productivity, balance and structure. While you have your own morning routine - that 6 am wake up call, cup of coffee, workout and get dressed for work - your dog needs their own in order to anticipate their day.
You may think that sounds silly, a dog doesn’t go to work, pay bills and make dinner for the family, why would they need a routine? They don’t have anything to get done, unless you consider napping a measure of productivity. While that may be true in the practical sense, a dog is just as aware of time as humans are. Therefore, instilling a schedule allows your dog to understand when things are supposed to happen. Such as when they go outside in the morning, what time lunch is and when they can have their afternoon bone.
We underestimate the intelligence of our canine companions. Sure they don’t wear a watch or know how to read a clock, but you better believe that without hesitation your dog knows what time dinner is served. By setting up a routine for your dog that adheres to your personal schedule, your pet will be far less likely to veer off their routine. This not only establishes good behavior, but ensures that they aren’t constantly begging you for food, treats or outside time.
To create a routine, you’ll need these timestamps for your pet
Morning time to go outside
Afternoon time to go outside
Afternoon treat / bone
Evening time to go outside
Night time to go outside
Set up these specific daily milestones and you’ll be surprised to see that your pet’s behavior is obedient and structured to adhere to the routine you have in place.
Another element that is important in the training process of your pet is to set up boundaries around your home. Again, this should be decided before you bring your dog home, so that once they have settled, there isn’t any sense of confusion or additional adjustments to be made.
So, what type of boundaries should you have in place? This is ultimately up to the pet owner and how they want their dog to live in their home. For example, many pet owners have rooms that are off limits to their dogs while other pet owners let their dog have complete and full reign of their house. It’s truly a matter of preference.
If you want to establish areas in your home where your dog is not allowed, you’ll need to start with visual indicators. This means actually physically setting up a blockage, so that your dog cannot enter a specific room or area. You can do this by buying a dog fence or building your own makeshift barrier that will keep them out.
Considering that your puppy is growing and probably won’t understand every command, the visual representation of boundaries let’s them actually see that the area is not for them. If they can’t pass through, then they will quickly comprehend that they are not allowed.
Some situations may be more difficult to enforce, but again you need to set the tone for what is and isn’t acceptable while your pet is young and learning. For example, it may be difficult to communicate to your pet that they can’t sit on the couch. There’s not exactly a couch sized dog gate to keep them out. And, no matter how high you stack the pillows, we guarantee they’ll find a way around the tower of plush.
Therefore, your actions are what will establish these rules and regulations for your dog. Instead of setting up a boundary, you can physically choose to not sit with your puppy on off limits surfaces. For example, if you don’t want your dog on the couch, don’t hold them there or let them sit next to you. Choose another location where you would be fine with them jumping or laying on such as a chair or even your bed. If you don’t want your dog on any of these items, restrict your play time to the floor.
In their infancy, puppies are just like babies. They are going to remember where they feel comfortable and will want to cling to that space as a form of comfort. Older dog owners will understand this: How often do you find your pet in the same place day after day?
This is because as our pets age, they find their favorite places to lay and relax in the home. For example, I know that if I can’t find my dog - he’s either in my parent’s office under the chair or laying on my brother’s couch. Just like you have your preferred place of rest, your dog will find their own perfect spot to catch some zzz’s.
So, if you want your puppy to stay out of the living room and off the leather sofa - your best protection against disobedience is to establish boundaries from the start. Whether it’s physical, visual markers or subconscious decisions on where to hold and play with them - you are defining the allowed area in which your pet can roam.
Utilize Commands With Intention & Repetition
The third tip to good dog training and better pet behavior is to establish a set of commands that are used with intention and repetition.
We all know the basics - sit, lie down, fetch, shake. But, did you realize that these commands need to be used in certain situations for them to truly work properly? For commands to make sense to your dog, you need to pair them with specific actions.
For example, let’s say you want your dog to sit before you give them a treat. You’ll need to use the treat and the way you present it to your dog as a marker of reference for the future. In practice, you could hold the treat up above their head, say the command “sit” and wait until they have sat before you give them the treat.
In this case, you want to be very intentional with the command “sit.” Don’t say “down, lay down, sit down, stop” or any other kind of words that will throw your dog off. Going forward, when you have a treat in front of them - your dog will know that it’s their cue to sit.
Another example, would be the use of commands to get your dog to quiet down or stop barking. In this case, you’ll need to decide a phrase that links to this command - “stop barking, quiet, be quiet” - choose one that you will say each time with repetition. This establishes a correlation for your dog, that the phrase you select means that they need to stop barking and be quiet.
This is pretty simple stuff, but sometimes when you’re training your pet - you can often forget what words you used to communicate a command. We’d recommend coming up with a list of commands and actions that you will repeat to your dog with consistency. Some commands to consider are:
- What will you say when you want them to sit? - Sit, Sit Down, Lay Down, Down
- What will be your command for when you want them to stop barking? Quiet, Be Quiet, Stop Barking, Stop
- What command will you use when you want them to come to you? Come, Come Here, Come Over Here, Here
- How will you call them over to eat dinner or have a bone? Time To Eat, Come Eat, Eating Time
Make a list of the words you’ll use and keep them on repeat. Commands with intention and repetition are a surefire way to promote obedience, listening and good behavior from your pet.
Establish a Reward System
The final tip to help you train your dog for obedience and good behavior is to establish a reward system.
We’ve talked about ways to restrict your dog to certain behaviors - setting up a time schedule/routine, placing boundaries and creating commands that ignite specific actions. Yet, what about the training method that signals to them that they’ve been doing everything right? This is where a reward system comes in.
A reward system for a dog works just like the one you have for your children. For example, if your kids do well on a test or behave for their grandma, maybe you occasionally buy them an ice cream cone or a small toy. This type of reward system is based on the idea that when they do something well, they receive a token that acknowledges it.
While you don’t necessarily reward your children for every good behavior, dogs are a bit different. Children need to learn how to function on their own and act properly not just because someone is giving them a prize or gold star. Yet, dogs don’t necessarily evolve and grow up to act on their own - they are always under the care of their owner and don’t need to understand how to acclimate to society. Sounds like they got the better end of the stick, huh?
Rewarding your dog often doesn’t equate to spoiling them. Instead, it reinforces the good behaviors that allowed the reward in the first place. A reward system for a dog is a simple and effective way to promote obedience because your dog knows what to expect if they do what they’ve been taught.
For example, if you give your dog a treat when they come back inside the house after doing their business - they are going to be less likely to have a mistake inside the home. They will wait to go outside and come back to you quickly with the excitement that they are going to be given a treat.
Treats or bones are the easiest way of rewarding your dog because you can set up specific times where they can anticipate their reward if they behave well. Another example would be taking your dog on a walk. If you establish that every time they take a walk, they get a treat when they come home - they will be more likely to behave well on the walk in anticipation for the treat that awaits them.
While it’s not a perfect formula, establishing a reward system for your dog is a tangible way for them to understand that they’ve done something right. And in turn, if they misbehave - the lack of or omission of their rewards signals that they misbehaved.
As a pet owner, you’ll need to decide when you’ll use rewards for your dog’s specific actions. Yet, remember, once you set up this reward system you’ll need to be consistent. Your dog’s good behavior will be tied to their coveted treats and we never want to let our furry friends down.
Those are our 4 tips for good dog training and better pet behavior. We hope you found them helpful and will utilize these techniques when introducing your new addition to the family.
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