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Top Tips For Training Your Dog

February 1, 2024

Getting a dog is a huge responsibility. You’re starting out on a lifelong journey with your canine companion. That entails not only providing Fido with good food and care, but also ensuring that he is getting proper exercise, veterinary care, and training. While all of these topics are important, this blog will focus on training your dog. Ensuring that your furry companion understands and follows basic commands is crucial for not just petiquette, but also his safety, as well as the safety of others. In this article, a local Maui, HI veterinarian shares some valuable insights on pet education.

Make Fido’s Training A Pawsitive Experience

It’s important to reward Fido for doing well. If you show your dog a report card with straight As, he may not be too impressed, and if you give him a gold star, well, he may just eat it. Treats are a much better alternative.

Snacks shouldn’t be your canine friend’s only reward. If Fido does something well, shower him with praise and attention. Our canine companions strive to please their human companions, and they look adorably proud of themselves when they are receiving praise.

Choose Good  Dog Training Treats

Snacks may very well be your secret weapon here. However, you’ll need to stick to small portions. Otherwise, you may accidentally overfeed your adorable student. Training treats are an easy choice, but there are plenty of other options.

These include:

  • Hot dog slices
  • Shredded chicken, turkey, or deli meat
  • Kibble bits
  • One more hack: microwave a hot dog with a little water in a bowl of Cheerios. You’ll get hot-dog flavored Cheerios/low-calorie treats.

You may want to use something very high-quality in certain lessons. This would be something Fido probably doesn’t get very often, like a steak or burger.  Ask your Maui, HI vet for more information. 

Mood also matters. The last thing you want to do is try to train your dog when you’re in a bad mood. Fido will quickly notice your sour mood and might mistakenly associate it with training, which could make him uneasy.

Start With The Most Important Dog Commands

Did you know that dogs can learn over 100 commands? Despite the fact that Fido can learn some very complicated commands, such as turning off lights, loading the dishwasher, or fetching specific items, you don’t have to teach him anything super complicated or flashy. But, you should make sure he knows the basics.

The most important ones are as follows:

  • Sit
  • Stay
  • Come
  • Heel
  • Lay Down

If he has those down, you may also want to consider:

  • Down
  • Leave It
  • Drop It

Have A Great Dog Training Curriculum

You don’t want to bore your furry best buddy with long, drawn-out classes. Your pet will lose interest, and he may even start to dislike training. (Treats will definitely help keep your pup engaged, but we’ll get to that later.) Dogs don’t have very long attention spans … except when they are begging for bacon or watching their humans cook cheeseburgers on a grill.

If you’re working with your dog at home, try to do several shorter sessions each week. 10-15 minutes at a time is fine.

Be Consistent

It’s very easy to forget that our canine friends don’t understand the nuances of human language. For instance, your pet may not understand that ‘Sit’ means the exact same thing as ‘Fido, sit down right now!’ Even small variations in wording can confuse him. Be sure you use the same phrases or words all the time.

Consistency isn’t just about language: it’s crucial to all aspects of training and reinforcement. Don’t punish your pup for getting on the couch one day, then reprimand him the next: that will only confuse him.

Avoid Negative Reinforcement

We would recommend sticking with positive reinforcement, such as treats and praise, as much as possible. Although some professional trainers can use prong collars and shock collars successfully, these can often do more harm than good, especially with novices.

There are multiple reasons for this. First, dogs are highly sensitive and can easily develop negative associations. It is important to avoid this: you don’t want Fido associating his lessons with fear or dread.

For example, if you come home to find that your pup has chewed on your shoes, do not punish him. Your furry friend may not know why he’s being scolded, especially after the incident has passed. This may cause him to feel fearful or unsure of you, making training more challenging than necessary.

You can reprimand your canine buddy if you catch him doing something wrong. Just remember that Fido doesn’t understand the concept of punishment, at least not in the same way we do. If you catch him in the act of doing something wrong, you can chide him sternly, but don’t ever yell at him or hit him.  

Know When To Get Help

It’s easy for people-especially those who have never trained dogs before-to make common mistakes when it comes to training dogs. Pups that have been rescued, neglected, or just not well-trained can also be challenging. Don’t be afraid to get help if you need it. It may take some time and money now, but it will be well worth it in the long run.

Choose The Right Time For Training

Don’t look at the clock here: go by Fido’s daily schedule. Pick a time when he has already exercised. You’ll have a lot more success with your dog if he’s already burned off his zoomies! Try to work with your canine friend at the same time every day.

Avoid Common Dog Training Mistakes

Do some research, and learn about what pitfalls to avoid. Inconsistency and negative reinforcement have already been discussed. Another common mistake is repeating commands over and over again, expecting a change in your dog’s behavior. Ask your Maui, HI vet for more insight.

Start Training Your Dog Right Away

Getting Fido started on his petucation can start as soon as you get him. It’s almost never too soon for pups to understand the do’s and don’ts of being a good dog. 

If you’re raising puppies, start getting the little ones used to being handled right away. Even though a young puppy may not be able to comprehend major commands, he will benefit from being petted, held, and handled. (Socialization is also important, but that’s another topic.) 

That all said, the best time to start training is when your new puppy is about 8 or 9 weeks old. Housebreaking can also begin at a young age.

You don’t have to wait until your dog is housetrained to teach him obedience commands. Housebreaking and obedience training actually work well together. Your Maui, HI veterinarians can offer more information. 

Never Stop Working With Your Pet

As a final note, you’ll need to reinforce your pup’s training constantly. Even once he knows what ‘Lay down’ means, reward him sometimes when he obeys.

In conclusion, it’s very important to train dogs, both for safety and manners. Focus on one command at a time, be positive and consistent, and don’t be afraid to ask for help if necessary.

Contact us, your local Maui, HI animal hospital, anytime if you have questions about training your canine buddy!

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