Madeleine Banman | October 15, 2018
Dog Training Tips
Getting a dog was a dream come true for me. When we decided to get our pup, I counted down the days till we brought her home. And then the day came. It was crazy and stressful, but we came home with a sweet puppy... who was also misbehaved. Not that she was bad; she just wasn't trained. She's now 3 years old, and while not perfect, she's come a long way.
So whether you have a new pup or an old dog, I'm sure you've had moments where you wish you could train them to behave and do cool tricks. Oh, and that saying? “You can't teach an old dog new tricks”? Totally false.
Animals (and people to be honest) are extremely food motivated. Figure out what your dog's favourite treat is. This will make training time much easier. My dog likes most store bought treats, as well as bits of meat, fruit, and veg! You can find long lists of dog-safe foods online.
Every day, or at least a few times a week, set aside time to work with your pup. Get them in a quiet, distraction free room, grab some treats, and start working! Consistency is key.
Like I said, train somewhere distraction free. Dogs have the mentality of a toddler, so make training one-on-one, and work in a familiar environment. Once your dog get used to this and responds to your commands quickly, start working with them when other people are around;work in new environments too, like your backyard.
Use short and simple commands, e.g. “sit”, “stay”, “come”, “lie down”. Long wordy commands will most likely confuse your pup. Short, concise commands can be learned more easily. Chaser, a Border Collie, is able to identify 1,022 toys by name! Don't change commands either, e.g. go from saying “turn around” to “spin”. Choose a word, and stick with it. Write commands down if that helps you remember.
Expect that your dog is going to do what you tell them to. If I ask my dog to do something, she thinks she doesn't have to. But if I tell her, expecting that she will just obey, she is more likely to listen.
Walking your dog can be very frustrating if your dog won't stop pulling. I've seen tips that say to stop moving when your dog starts to pull, or to walk the other way, and those are okay, but I've discovered one even better: Tire them out first. Throw a ball down the hall a few times, or take them outside and throw a Frisbee for a couple minutes. Don't exhaust them, just tire them out a little bit to slow them down. If your dog is tired, they won't have the energy to pull. Another thing that helps is a harness. You can pull them back without hurting them, and they won't have a coughing fit from their collar pulling against their throat.
Barking is another thing that drives dog owners crazy. Try teaching your dog the command “whisper”. Practice having them “whisper” on command, rather than just “speak”. You can go a step further and knock on the wall or another solid surface to mimic the sound of someone knocking on the door. Tell your dog to whisper, and reward them when they do. If your dog isn't aggressive, let them see who's at the door as long as your guest is okay with that. Once they learn that most visitors are not out to get them and their family, they should calm down.
If your dog has separation anxiety, there are a few things you can do. First of all, if you don't have a Kong, I recommend you get one. Kongs come in different sizes, and can be stuffed with all kinds of treats; if you look online, there are even Kong “recipes”. My pup usually gets peanut butter and a few treats in hers if we're leaving for over an hour. Sometimes we even stuff it with her food if we're going to be gone during her supper time. Kongs can also be stuffed and then frozen. When you do leave, don't make a big deal about it. Say goodbye and tell them you'll be back later; but, like a little kid, if you draw your goodbye out too long, your pup will stress out more once you leave. Be calm when you come back too.
Dogs make incredible pets, and training is always worth it. If you want more tips and help, check out YouTube, and keep in mind that the library has all kinds of books on dog training!"