By Kirah Meade
Whether you are house training a new puppy or kitten, teaching an old dog new tricks (yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks!), or anything in between – there are a few basic tips you should know to ensure a long-lasting and trusting relationship.
Know Your Breed.
First, research your breed. Different breeds of dogs and cats have different qualities and personalities. They also have different capabilities, skills, likes, and dislikes.
Be Realistic. Training should be appropriate for species, breed, gender, and maturity. Expecting a 4 month old puppy to complete an obstacle course perfectly or have no potty accidents is unrealistic (for most breeds). Expecting a cat to play nicely with the pet bird is unrealistic (but possible for some breeds).
Training takes time and effort. Most pets will need repetitive lessons and continual reminders to get it right.
Because it does take time and maturity for a pet to train on basic behaviors and tricks, you need to be very patient.
Always reward for the appropriate behavior – even behaviors your pet has been doing well. Rewards can be treats and/or praise. Do not reward undesirable behavior.
Even though there may be set backs, persistence pays off. Don’t give up. Keep trying.
Never punish your pet for disobeying, doing something they are not suppose to do, or something that was your fault. Pets have short attention spans, and need training and tricks to be reinforced constantly. Punishing your animal can cause him to fear you or fear the action you are trying to get him to do – the very opposite of what you were intending. Punishment can also hurt your pet. Imagine someone you love dearly and loyally – hurting you for a reason you do not understand. If you must give consequences, such as a firm “no” or a nudge – be sure it is immediately at the time of the undesired action and be consistent.
Keep It Short.
Work on one trick or behavior at a time and keep your sessions short. Look for signs that your pet is losing interest, tired, distracted, or frustrated. Revisit the skill later with another short session.
Keep Your Pet Healthy.
Be sure to provide a healthy diet, plenty of exercise, and a safe, warm, and dry shelter to ensure your pet is healthy and happy.
Be A Good Leader.
The ASPCA says good leadership is not about dominance and power. Your dog will happily work for everything he loves in life. He can learn to do what you want in order to earn what he wants – food, treats, praise, attention, a walk, or games.
You and your pet will have many wonderful years together. Make it a trusting relationship. Make every day count. Remember, you are family now.
Happy trails and wagging tails!