The Importance of Training

School is now in full swing and the children have gone off to school. However, human children are not the only ones who need to learn. A pet must be trained in the way he should interact with his family and others. There are several methods which can be used to train your new family member. Consider your environment and the lifestyle of your furry friend before picking a method of training. While we usually think of dogs when we discuss training, many of the important steps are applicable to cats and even some of our more unique or exotic pets.

What you must get right when raising a puppy:

First and foremost, teach daily routines.

  • Where his food and water dishes are located.
  • What times of day he will eat.
  • Where his bed is.
  • What time he goes to bed.
  • What time he gets up.
  • Where he goes to the bathroom.
  • Where his toys are kept.

It is important to stick to this routine as much as possible. If your puppy knows when certain events will take place, less mischief will likely occur.

At 2 to 3 months old, puppies are infants and won’t have reliable control of their bladder for several months. Tiny breeds are notoriously difficult to housebreak and take even longer. Do not be alarmed in your puppy needs to go outside several times a day as his bladder is still growing. Housebreaking begins the day you bring your new pet home, regardless of age. Establish the right pattern from the very beginning. With a consistent routine, a puppy will be housebroken as soon as his internal organs can cooperate. But if you do it wrong, housebreaking will become a nightmare. Sadly, many owners don’t realize they’re doing something wrong until puppy’s “accidents” have become a bad habit…. and bad habits are hard to undo. There are several methods of housebreaking, including using a transport crate, an exercise pen, a doggy door leading into a small potty yard, or a litter box for tiny breeds and cats.

Giving in to your puppy’s every need is not a good thing. As your puppy grows, so will express his need to assert himself. Puppies often choose mealtimes as a battleground. But giving in to him is a mistake. You need to make sure your pet knows that you won’t respond to his every demand. Your puppy needs to learn that people around him, particularly small children, can be unpredictable and he needs to accept that unpredictable behavior is not threatening. You can help him learn this with desensitizing exercises. Try stepping quickly towards his bowl then drop in a treat. Gently bump into him while he’s eating or roll toys nearby; anything to cause a distraction but drop a treat in the bowl to reward him for continuing to eat calmly. Do this every so often but not at every meal. If your puppy freezes mid-mouthful, growls or glares at you, stop and try again another time. If this continues this behavior it’s best to seek advice from your veterinary or certified dog trainer.

If you comfort your puppy whenever he whines, it may actually make things worse. It will make your puppy think he’s being praised for whining and get him into the habit of repeating it for your affection. You can help your puppy learn to stop whining by not going to him when he whines. By ignoring your puppy, and only giving him attention and praise when he stops whining, he’ll learn that whining and whimpering are not the way to earn your approval. Dogs are not spiteful. If your puppy is doing something wrong, they probably “learn” it was okay. You have to teach your puppy otherwise. First, catch him in the act. Dogs can’t connect a punishment to an action hours or even minutes before. Never hit your puppy, this creates fear and inhibits learning. Instead, when you see your puppy doing something wrong, say, ‘No’ in a sharp tone. When your puppy stops, praise him and give him a distraction like having them ‘Sit’ or ‘Come’. Praise him abundantly for responding. Keep commands simple. Most pets, especially young ones, can’t understand complex commands or explanations of their mistakes. They may look at you intently while you explain the errors of their ways, but they don’t understand. They just love to hear your voice directed to them.

Different Modes of Training:

  • Owner Training or at Home Training
  • Class Style Training or Obedience School

Part of the responsibility of being a pet owner is making certain they are well mannered around others. An owner is also responsible for the safety of his pet. This means not only keeping him from harm but also keeping him from running in front of a car or getting in trouble because of misconduct, such as biting the mailman or neighborhood child. The best way to ensure all of these is with obedience training. Dogs in the wild live by the rules of the pack. These rules serve them well in that situation but we’ve asked them to live with us and our rules must now be followed. It is absolutely possible to have a well-trained dog that is still a dog heart. We should be careful to train them as animals and not as toddlers.

There are benefits to both home training and group class training. Some trainers will come to your home and provide private one-on-one training. This may be especially beneficial in certain “problem” cases. Some owners opt to train their own dogs. Home training may allow you and your dog to focus more on each other. Group class training helps your dog learn to focus, even when there are distractions from other dogs. Home training means you focus only on things you particularly want your dog to learn, while at group classes you may spend time on things you don’t personally find important

Every dog is different and thus different training styles are needed to accommodate your specific pooch. Certain breeds respond to training differently. The important thing to remember is your canine companion can be trained. You just have to find the correct mode of training and the patience to train your canine companion. Remember, your family Veterinarian can help guide you through your pet’s care throughout their lives!