Pet training is one of the signs of responsible pet ownership. But first, it’s important to recognize that your pet’s personality is compatible with your own. So many dogs wind up at the pound because their owners found them too hyper or difficult to deal with. If only they’d taken the time to pick out the right pet in the first place!
When my bachelor brother, a member of the US Army, was preparing to ship out for an extended tour he asked our family to watch his mixed breed puppy, Cadence. We had no idea what to expect, as he lives a couple of hours away and we’d only seen pictures over social networks.
A Misbehaving Puppy Isn’t a “Bad Dog”
The boy was I in for a surprise. This dog had more energy than both my kids combined. Adding insult to injury was the fact that every time the front door opened, she took it as an invitation to bolt outside. It didn’t take the Dog Whisperer to tell us that we were in for a very long and trying six months with this dog.
By the time my brother returned home, our entire family had warmed up to Cadence. The combination of passing her first birthday and a lot of consistent training methods helped to transform her from a frantic ball of fuzz into a civil little canine. And once she’d returned home with him, we eagerly headed off to the pound to adopt our own bundle of fur.
You Don’t Have to Be a Pro to Train like One
Isn’t it easy to start off with rules? No dogs on the couch. No cats in the bedroom. No unsupervised iguanas! But as humans grow more comfortable with the idea of having a pet around, those rules often go right out the window. Here are some tips to help ease the training process but remember, unless you’re consistent then you can expect to spend extra time and energy on the endeavor.
When your pet speaks, listen. Of course, your pet can’t literally talk to you, but its body language speaks volumes. If it feels like you’re forcing your pet to obey, that could cause problems with aggression in the future.
Show praise often. When we were potty training our puppy, every time she relieved herself outside we humans whooped and hollered like we’d hit the lottery. Of course, we looked silly to the neighbors, but there was no confusion in our dog’s eyes that she’d done the right thing, which made her quicker to do it again the next time.
Use clear instructions. You don’t beat around the bush when giving instructions to humans, so be clear with your pet as well. Use a short command, and be consistent about the commands you use. For instance, when training dogs short phrases like “drop it” and “leave it” work better than “put down my slippers and leave them alone!” Too many words are just confusing.
Be consistent. Speaking of consistency, use the same training techniques every time. If you use the command “down” to let your dog know not to jump on people but someone else uses the command “off” then he’ll just get confused. If you clean the cat litter box every morning, waiting until bedtime could cause your cat to hold everything in until the box is clean.
Use quality food and snacks. This will help keep your pet on a regular eating schedule, especially if the food tastes good to them, as well as provide the vitamins and nutrients they need for their physical well-being. However, not all refusals to eat are behavior-related. For example, upper respiratory infection in cats prevents them from smelling their food and as a result, causes them to lose their appetite.
Compatibility is the Key
Dog trainer Cesar Millan recommends “that people choose a dog with the same energy level or a lower energy level than their own. If they have other dogs at home, it’s even more important not to choose a dog with an energy level higher than that of the dogs or humans already in the family pack.”
How much time and effort you put into training your pet matters, but you’ll have an easier time of it if your personalities and energy levels are compatible from the start. If you aren’t sure where to begin, consult your local veterinarian or pet groomer for advice. If you aren’t sure who to select then ask your friends, family members, or even employees of your local pet supply retailer.
Freelance author Becky James-Muth lives with her husband, their two sons, and their two dogs in the Blue Ridge Mountains area of the United States. When researching articles about pets she uses sites like https://bestpetjobs.com to find the most up-to-date information. While she truly enjoys writing, Becky’s real love is her family. Now that her sons are teenagers they spend their free time traveling up and down the East Coast together.