Training a new pet can be a rewarding experience, but it can also be challenging. From obedience training to toilet training, tasks and even managing excessive barking, there are many different aspects of training to consider when bringing a new dog into your home. With a little patience, consistency, and the right approach, you can help your new dog learn the skills they need to be well-behaved, happy, and fulfilled members of your family.
Basic Obedience Training and Toilet Training:
- Positive reinforcement: Basic obedience training must be done through positive reinforcement, where you reward your pet with treats or praise for good behaviour they respond positively.
- Start with one command at a time and be consistent in your use of the command and the rewards.
- Be patient and work at your pet’s pace, as they may need time to learn and understand the commands. This may mean they only concentrate for a few moments at a time.
- Teaching “quiet” or “enough” command: If your dog is prone to excessive barking, there are also techniques you can use to help reduce this behaviour. A quiet command teaches them to bark which allows them to learn the correct time to bark. This allows bark training to be done using positive reinforcement techniques.
- Providing mental and physical stimulation: Providing your dog with plenty of mental and physical stimulation can also help reduce barking, as can identifying and addressing the root cause of the barking (eg separation anxiety).
Advanced Training (e.g. Tricks, Therapy Work):
- Tricks: Once your pet has mastered basic obedience training, you may be interested in exploring more advanced training options such as tricks which are a fun way to challenge your pet’s mental and physical skills and can help to build your bond.
- Therapy work: Therapy work involves training your pet to provide comfort and support to people in need, such as those in hospitals or nursing homes. To become a therapy pet, you and your pet will need to undergo specialized training and certification.
Positive Reinforcement Techniques:
- To use positive reinforcement effectively, it’s important to choose rewards that your dog finds motivating such as treats, toys, praise, or other positive experiences.
- Reward your dog immediately after they exhibit the desired behaviour.
- Be consistent in using the same reward every time your dog exhibits the desired behaviour to help them understand what they are being rewarded for.
- As your dog becomes more familiar with the desired behaviour, you can gradually phase out rewards.
- Develop a consistent routine for taking your dog outside to go potty, including taking them out first thing in the morning, after meals, and after naps.
- Choose a specific spot in your garden for your dog to go potty, and consistently take them to that spot to help them learn where they should go.
- Choose a specific word or phrase (such as “go potty”) to use every time you take your dog outside to go potty, and use it consistently to help them learn what you expect of them.
- When your dog is inside, keep an eye on them and interrupt any attempts to go potty indoors by immediately taking them outside to the designated spot.
- When your dog goes potty outside, be sure to praise them and reward them with treats to reinforce the desired behaviour.
- Accidents: If your dog has accidents in the house despite your efforts, try not to scold them or punish them. Instead, try to identify any potential triggers for the accidents and work on addressing those issues.
- Provide plenty of appropriate outlets for your dog’s natural behaviours: For example, if your dog likes to chew, provide them with plenty of chew toys to keep them occupied.
- Make sure your dog is getting enough exercise and mental stimulation: A tired and mentally stimulated dog is less likely to engage in destructive behaviours.
Keep your dog away from items that you don’t want them to chew or destroy: If there are certain items in your home that you don’t want your dog to chew or destroy, keep them out of reach or use deterrents (such as bitter apple spray) to discourage your dog from chewing on them.
Barking and Noise Phobias:
- Make sure your dog has a safe place to retreat to when they are feeling anxious or scared.
- Slowly and systematically expose your dog to the things that trigger their barking or phobia, using positive reinforcement techniques to help them learn to cope with these situations.
Training Tools and Equipment:
- Collars and leashes: These are essential for basic obedience training and for keeping your dog safe when you are out and about.
- Harnesses: Harnesses can be a good option for dog who pull on the leash or for certain breeds of dogs that may have breathing issues.
- Training treats: Treats can be a great way to reward your dog for good behaviour and can be used as a motivator during training.
- Clicker training: Clicker training is a positive reinforcement method that uses a small device that makes a clicking sound to mark a desired behaviour, followed by a reward.
- Training gates: Training gates can be used to keep your dog contained in a specific area while you work on house training or other training tasks.
Training a new pet can be a challenging and rewarding experience. By starting with basic obedience training and positive reinforcement techniques, you can help your pet learn the skills they need to be well-behaved and happy members of your family. As your pet becomes more advanced in their training, you can explore options such as tricks and therapy work to further challenge and bond with them.