Most dog owners have an arsenal of detailed stories they can recite on demand about their canine buddies doing something rash. Whether it’s chomping on a pair of your favourite (and expensive!) leather shoes or maybe an unwelcome tinkle in the corner of your living room, our dog’s behaviour can cause frustration. Luckily, they’re so darn cute – so we usually just let it go!
Any doggie mishap only reinforces the importance of proper training. It’s a great time to consider this. Not only does the New Year offer a built-in slot on the calendar to start a fresh, new adventure, but January is also National Train Your Dog month. Be it a puppy, a rescue, or even that proverbial “old dog,” it’s always a good time to teach them something to improve their lives and yours.
Some training basics
We tend to believe that training a dog is a difficult task. In reality, it’s not as hard as it seems, depending on the dog, of course. There are multiple methods to train your pet and with the right approach, you can make your doggie happier and well-behaved.
- Be consistent
- Use positive reinforcement
- Use rewards for good behaviour
- Practice patience
1) Potty training – the most obvious reasons your dog does business in the house are they are not fully house-trained, they’re anxious, left alone for too long, or potentially dealing with a medical condition (like a urinary tract infection).
Training Methods – Establish a solid routine. Take your dog outside every few hours and pick a regular bathroom spot. Praise and give treats immediately after they go. Consistent feeding times can help with that routine. And if it does seem like a health issue is occurring, please call your vet.
2) The chewer – dogs love to wrap their gobby mouths around all sorts of stuff. That’s fine, within reason!
Training Methods – Make a “chewing station” in a designated spot within your house, stocked with loads of your dog’s fave toys. You might have to monitor them for a while when they roam the house, but that spot will become an attractive destination.
3) Mr/Miss Anxious – Some dogs, for various reasons, are just nervous. They have that trademark shiver and sad look in their eyes revealing that all is not right.
Training Methods – Exercise! Get your dog out…often. Let them tear around and explore, meet new buddies, and learn that life is fun. Anxiety aside, the truth is that many dogs with behaviour problems are just lacking the right amount of activity. Like us, they need to burn off some negative energy. And when they are good and tired, your pet is more open to listening and learning.
Trust the Pros!
If you’re experiencing consistent problems with your dog and how they behave, consider getting additional training help. While there are many individuals and private businesses that offer excellent training services, it can be tough to weed through the pretenders and find the right fit. Fortunately, pet owners in the GTA have some amazing access to quality training.
“One of the trickiest issues about dog training is that it is not a regulated industry so anyone can call themselves a dog trainer,” says Woodbine Animal Clinic veterinarian Dr. Jessica Scott. “The Toronto Humane Society dog training services are an important and reliable resource. If you look at the bios of the leadership and team, you can see various certifications listed, which is what owners should look for when choosing a trainer. Or ask their vet!”