Dear Inquisitive Dog Parents,
For many of you, summertime fun included fetching a new dog or puppy. No wonder, as summer’s relaxed schedule means being home more and making yourself more available to your dog’s needs. With fall around the corner and work and school routines back in full swing, as a certified trainer and dog mom, I think the time is right to present a few helpful dog training and management tips as you and your new inquisitive canine embark on the road to happiness together.
Dog Training Begins with Behavior
Settling into a new home and lifestyle takes time for any animal — human or non-human — and especially when cultural norms vary. Dogs come with a pre-installed list of species-specific behaviors: jumping up to greet, eliminating where and when they feel the urge, and chewing whatever strikes their fancy.
As much as we’re aware of these traits that make dogs dogs, they can often be a nuisance. Therefore, it’s important you take the time to teach your dog or puppy what it is you want, and where and when you want it.
» Set a house-training routine. Puppies, adult dogs, purebreds, rescues — it doesn’t matter how old or where they came from, every dog will need to be taught where to go to the bathroom. Just because animals know where to go in one place doesn’t mean they’ll figure it out on their own in their new homes.
Whether relocating from a shelter to a high-rise in the city, or from a breeder’s home to a ranch out in the country (and everything in between), you’ll need to take the time to reward your new pooch for knowing where his or her new loo is. You can never thank an animal enough for going potty in the right place — especially if it’s outdoors in the middle of winter!
» Go back to school with canines, too! Doorbell manners, leash-walking, sitting politely to greet and leaving things alone when asked should be some of the Dog Training 101 behaviors every inquisitive canine should know. One way to kick off your training plan is to sign up for a dog training class or workshop. Other options would be working privately with a trainer, or the DIY approach, such as using a dog training activity game.
Even if your dog is already skilled at obedience, classes can help keep you motivated to continue your education. You can also go back to school to try out a new sport, such as agility, dock-diving or Treibball. To find out more about these and a few of the more popular canine-related sports, click here to view this Doggie Blog post. (My personal favorite is Canine Freestyle!)
» Make your house a home-sweet-home. Dogs in general are social animals. They do better when they’re with family, friends and/or siblings — even those of another species — than when left alone. Avoid the risk of destructive behaviors and/or isolation distress by taking the time to teach your dog to be independent and to enjoy being alone. This is as important for your dog as it is for you. Providing enrichment activities, making sure they’ve been given adequate mental and physical exercise before being left, and starting out with short absences are just a few things to add to your action plan.
» Oversee their space! When you’re not training, you’ll need to remember to arrange your dog’s environment to be Fido-friendly. Will you need to confine your dog to a specific area like a doggie playpen, crate or specific room, whether you’re home or not? If so you’ll want to add this to your training tasks. Make sure you provide dogs with allowable items they can play with, while putting away anything you don’t want them to get their paws or mouths on.
» Consider outside resources. If all of a sudden you realize that life before Fido was busier than you remembered, consider the option of finding outside resources. Pet-sitters, dog-walkers, doggie day-cares and/or doggie friends for play-date trades help keep your pooch busy while relieving some of your time stress. And if you happen to work in a dog-friendly office, consider taking your dog with you. Who knows? If your canine friend is proficient in office manners, it’ll be easier to get him or her on the Employee-of-the-Month list!
Paws and Reflect
Being a new dog parent is super exciting, even during those moments of panic when you ask yourself, “What do I do now?” Before you decide to crawl into a dog crate and hide, remember that a little planning can make for a simple transition. Take the time to understand what your dog or puppy needs, go over the house rules, teach any skills that go along with those rules and manage your dog’s environment to help prevent mishap. Soon it’ll be as if you’ve been BFFs — that’s “best fur-friend” — all along.