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Training Your Dog for a Healthy and Happy Bond

How to train your dog: It's a new year, and that means it's time for some new resolutions for both you and your pet. January marks the 4th annual National Train your Dog Month, which promotes dog training for a fuller, richer life.

Unfortunately, many dogs are turned into shelters for mishaps as a result of poor training. However, this can be avoided just by giving some guidance to your dog and teaching him or her some simple commands.

Whether you are a new pet parent, or you have been parenting a four-legged buddy for a while, here are the top 6 training tips for your dog.

Housetraining your dog

Did you know that housetraining is one of the best ways to keep you and your dog happy and content for years to come? Housetraining may take some effort, but it's well worth the trouble. Not having to worry about your pet ruining your floors and furniture while you are away helps establish a healthy bond with your pet.

Using a crate is the most effective way to stop your dog from "going" in your home. Crates help with housetraining because most pets don't like having icky waste in their den; thereby, teaching control until it's time to go outside.

Housetraining tips:

  • Use a crate
  • Reward your dog for going outside and not in the house.
  • Create a routine for outside time.
  • Take puppies out frequently.
  • Always take your dog out the moment you come home.
  • Remember that accidents are inevitable.

For more information on housetraining your dog, see these housetraining tips.

Teaching your dog to sit

The sit command is a very simple command to teach, and is beneficial in many situations. Teaching your dog to sit can help you teach him or her to sit next to the dinner table, which will help reduce "begging". The sit command also allows your dog to sit still while putting on a collar or a leash.

Teaching the sit command:

  1. Always teach your dog in a comfortable area away from any distraction.
  2. While standing in front of your dog, say "sit" and then guide your dog into a seated position with a treat that is right in front of his or her nose.
  3. Once your dog hits the floor, say "Yes!" and give him or her the treat.
  4. Repeat this many times by getting your dog to rise up and sit again.
  5. After a few times, try taking your hand away and then the treats.

Once your pet can follow the "sit" cue, try using it before he or she is meeting new people. Always say sit before the individuals approach you so your dog isn't inclined to jump on guests. Great tools for teaching the sit command are healthy treats as rewards.

Teaching your dog to stay

Just like the command "sit", the command stay can help your dog stay out of trouble. Stay helps your dog stay in a certain spot as opposed to running out the front door. It also teaches your dog to stay on the sidewalk while traffic passes by.

Teaching the stay command:

  1. Put a leash on your dog and make him or her sit.
  2. Say the word "stay" and use a hand motion like the open palm hand towards your pet.
  3. Start walking backward and keep your hand in the same position and keep a hold of your dog's leash to ensure he or she doesn't run away.
  4. Each time your dog gets up, return to the starting position and repeat steps 2-3.
  5. Once your dog has "stayed" an acceptable amount of time praise him or her with a toy and or a treat.
  6. As your dog gets better with the stay command, try dropping the leash and using a cue word like "okay" to tell your dog he or she can get up.
Teaching your dog to walk on a leash

Having your dog walk on a leash properly is important not only for your dog, but for you as well. Stopping your dog from pulling reduces stress on your dog's spine and stops him or her from pulling you into dangerous situations like oncoming traffic. It also allows you to take a controlled leisurely walk with your dog, which helps strengthen your bond.

Teaching your dog to walk on a leash:

  1. Put a leash on your dog and do not allow any slack.
  2. Keep your dog at your left side.
  3. Start walking at a quick pace so your dog doesn't get bored or smell something enticing.
  4. Keep treats with you and stop every 5 minutes and reward your dog for not pulling.
  5. If your dog starts to pull, stop and make your pet sit and say "NO".
  6. Return to walking and after not pulling, give your pet a treat.
  7. Practice daily until you are able to reduce your grip on the leash.

Until your dog learns to walk on a leash without pulling you, all walks should be a training session. Also, you will be giving your dog treats often, so make sure that the treats are small and healthy.

Teaching your dog to come

Having your dog come when called reduces the chances of your dog getting lost or running away.

Teaching the come command:

  1. Start training your dog at home when you and your dog are relaxed.
  2. Make sure there are no distractions.
  3. Say your pet's name and immediately afterwards toss him or her a toy.
  4. Wait five minutes and do this again.
  5. Repeat this 10 to 20 times; pausing for varying lengths of time.
  6. Next, wait until your dog looks away from you and say his or her name.
  7. If your pet turns to look at you, say “Yes!” and play with your pet.
  8. Say your dog's name again. If your pet doesn't turn and look when you say it, do not repeat it; instead, turn and go to a corner and play with the toy yourself (turn away so that your dog can't get involved in the play).
  9. Practice daily over the course of a few days in different rooms of the house and your yard.
Teaching your dog how to stay down

Teaching your dog the down command stops unwanted behavior like jumping on guests. The down command is a useful skill that can help your dog control his or her impulses.

Teaching the down command:

  1. Start with your dog in a sitting position .
  2. With a treat in your hand, say the word, "down".
  3. Hold the treat firmly between your fingers so that your dog can smell it and lick it but not eat it.
  4. Put the treat right in front of your dog's nose and slowly move it straight down toward the floor between the front legs.
  5. As your dog's nose follows the treat, his or her head will bend all the way down to the floor.
  6. Once the treat is on the floor, start to move it away.
  7. To continue to follow the treat, your dog must lay into down position.
  8. The moment your pet's elbows touch the floor say "Yes!", and give him or her the treat.
  9. As always, practice daily with your pet and don't give up!
Training your dog with commands

Training your dog is a big responsibility, but it's one that creates a great bond between you and your dog for years to come. Just remember that dogs need a good "leader" and the quicker you can show them that you are it, the quicker your dog will learn the necessary commands.

Using the help of a dog trainer

Taking your dog to a trainer can be beneficial for both puppies and older dogs. If you adopted a dog from a pet shelter, having a dog trainer can help you introduce new rules for your home. Training can also help with socializing your dog since you will meet other dogs. Finding the right dog trainer can be a bit daunting so here a few helpful questions to ask a trainer:

  1. What are your certifications?
  2. What method do you use when training?
  3. Do you have a list of clients for references?
  4. Do you belong to any organizations?
  5. Do you use any type of equipment?

It may take some time to find the right trainer for you and your dog, but once you do it's important to follow the trainer's rules for your pet. It's also important to continue to train your dog at home. All the efforts of a dog trainer can be spoiled with just a small deviation in training at home. If your trainer uses equipment or specific collars and leashes, you should also invest in the same collar and leash system. Finding a good trainer doesn't have to be stressful. The most important thing is to make sure you and your pet are having fun together while training.

Your dog is your buddy, your pal, and your constant friend. It's important to make sure you have a loving bond. Training your dog properly will reduce any issues you may encounter in the future.

Pharmacy Tip
Max & Molly
Basic training can begin as young as 7 weeks, which means your puppy will be able to "grow up" knowing you are the leader of the pack.
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