Pet Training Tips
Training your pet can be frustrating, but it is important for your pet, and can be very rewarding! Basic training will help your pet learn what is expected of them, and can improve their bond with you. We have put together some tips to help you and your pet succeed.
Language BarrierKeep in mind that animals are not born understanding human language. They’re pretty good at association though, and if you always take them outside after clipping on the leash, they will learn that the leash means a trip outside. The same process works with words. They will learn to associate a particular word with an expected action. It just takes time.
Short and SweetKeep training sessions short. Especially at a young age, your pet will have a short attention span and can get bored and frustrated. It’s better to have a few short sessions than one long one. It will help to keep things fun, and keep it from seeming like a chore. Five to ten minutes is plenty.
Eliminate DistractionsFind a quiet area. At least at first, avoid having other people or pets, toys and other distractions in your training space. It will help your pet to focus on you and on the task at hand. Once your pet has a solid grasp on something, you can introduce distraction as a training tool. Eventually you will want to work with your pet in different places, so they understand that they have to listen everywhere, not just in the training area. At the beginning, however avoid distractions as much as possible and teach new skills in a quiet area.
Listen to Your PetIf your pet is hungry, tired, or seems distracted or disinterested, it may be best to postpone the training session for later. If your pet can’t concentrate, it will be frustrating for you and them. If your pet loses interest during a session, don’t force them to continue. Always try to end on a good note though – go back to something simple that your pet already knows.
Repetition and ConsistencyYour pet can’t learn a new skill in one session. Be prepared to repeat a lesson many times before your pet catches on. At the same time, don’t drill them. If they don’t seem to be catching on, move on to something else and come back to the first thing later. It will also help your pet learn faster if you are consistent in how you ask: pick a word, and stick to that word. If you’re teaching “down”, for instance, always use “down”. Throwing in “lie down” can cause confusion. If you want to use “lie down”, start with that and stick to it.
RewardsPick something tasty and reserve it for training. Something smelly (at least to your pet) can be helpful too. It will help your pet figure out when they’ve done something right, and give them something to work for. Use small pieces. It will interfere with the session if your pet has to stop and break down the treat into manageable pieces before eating it. Not to mention, the bigger the treat the faster your pet will fill up and lose interest in dinner!
Begin at the BeginningStart with the basics. Teaching your pet tricks is fun, but the ‘boring’ stuff is a critical foundation. The first thing is to teach “sit”. It’s simple, straightforward, and more important than you might think. This is where the smell of a treat comes in handy. Hold the treat in your closed hand, and put it near your pet’s nose. Lift it up and back over your pet’s head. They should follow it, and will usually sit when the treat gets too far back – they can tip their heads farther back when sitting than they can when standing. You can also push down gently on the hind end to encourage them to sit if they are backing up instead or don’t seem to be getting the idea. Repeat this a couple of times before adding the command. Repeating a command over and over without a result won’t help your pet learn. They need to know that the command is “sit” – not “sit, sit, sit, sit, sit…..”. Why is “sit” so important? If your puppy has their bum on the floor, they can’t jump on people who come in the door. Not so great with “come”? Use “sit” to stop your pet from going somewhere you don’t want them to go. Then call them back or go get them. Other important commands are “come”, “stay”, and “leave it”.
Boredom is the enemy of learning. And most importantly, enjoy your time with your pet!
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