Have you gotten a new puppy recently and don’t know where to start when it comes to training? Or is your older pup just not listening as much as you would like him/her to be? The phrase “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is far from true! Below are some helpful tips to help you understand what is important when it comes to setting boundaries for your dogs.   

Recently, my brother adopted a new rescue puppy. He is a brand-new dog parent and needs help when it comes to the basics. Hey, we have all been there. I remember my first dog. I thought I knew it all. I was so proud of myself. Little did I know, I had SO much to learn, and everything I thought I knew was wrong. 11 years and a lot of experience later, I can say now I am very proud of how well-behaved my dogs are. The secret? Understanding that dog training is a process. It is not just a couple hours of training and you’re done. It is a complete lifestyle change. If we create good habits with our dogs, we can create good dog behavior. Everyone wants the “perfect” dog fast and easy, but some people don’t understand training needs to be done daily. Heck, I have 4 dogs - 1 of them being a German Shepherd. Honestly, I could just stop there and most of you would understand. She will be 8 years old soon and every day we must still practice training.    

Potty Training: ALWAYS have training treats in your pocket! If you have a puppy, your pockets should always be filled with treats when you take your dog outside to use the bathroom. The second he/she goes (and I mean the second they are finished), give him/her a reward immediately. By being rewarded, he/she is understanding that they received a positive reaction for using the bathroom outside – a reaction they never received for going to the bathroom inside! This can also be used with older dogs who may need some re-training if accidents are happening.    

Walking out the door: Your dog does not lead you. It is important to remember that your dog should always be in a calm state when going somewhere. If you are walking out the door with your dog to go on a walk or to the park, having your dog sit first before opening the door helps him/her stay in a calm state while leaving. If your dog tries to dart out, then shut the door and have them sit. Repeat this process until you can open the door and he/she is sitting calmly - not darting out. It teaches your pet that this is the state of mind you would like him/her to be in, and they will get what they want.   

Feeding Meals: Is your dog barking? Going crazy while you make their meal? Here is another opportunity to teach your dog it will not receive what it wants until it is calm. If they are barking while you are making their meal, calmly stop and walk away. After your dog settles down, go back, and try again. Repeat this process until your dog can relax while you get their food ready. It is important you make eye contact and have them sit before giving them their meal. This can help with food aggression and anxiety during mealtimes.   

Walking your dog: Now, this is an important subject to me, because I cannot tell you how many times I have been on walks with my dogs and passed by someone with no control of their dog, anxiously hoping they don’t lose grip and my dogs get attacked. Just because you have a “friendly” dog, doesn’t mean all other dogs are friendly, too. Even so, if the other dog is friendly, that is not always an invitation for play time. It is important that you keep a short lead and keep your dog by your side while you go for walks. Retractable leashes are something I do not and will never recommend. If your dog were to get distracted while on a retractable leash, you can easily lose control and your dog can get hurt or hurt another animal or human. Keeping a short lead helps your dog focus on you over other distractions. If you give your dog too much lead, your dog is now walking you. If your dog is a puller, practice small walks outside by keeping him/her close on a short lead. When he/she starts pulling, turn the other direction. This teaches him/her, every time he pulls, he/she is not able to get to the destination he/she was hoping for. You will continue this process over and over (it will basically turn into figure 8’s). Also, don’t forget the treats! Eye contact is important. Every time he/she looks up at you while practicing your walking, it is good to reward that behavior. Rewarding eye contact helps them understand that you should be the one they should be focusing on. Consistent practice will help your dog in no time.   

Socializing: Bring your dogs with you to socialize whenever possible! Especially when they are puppies. It is good to expose them to places while they are young, as it helps them avoid getting too stressed out about leaving the house as they get older. Of course, puppies are ALWAYS welcome to come to Hungry Hound. Especially if they need grooming at some point. Bring them in just to walk around and get some treats from our staff! It helps them understand that this is a fun place and there is no need to be scared. You can even do this with your vet before you have a vet appointment. Bring them to places they are allowed and reward calm behavior, and they will understand that going out is not scary - it is fun!   

Hopefully, some of these tips can help. Just always remember - do not ever reward (either by petting or giving a treat) a negative behavior. Even if your dog is in scared state, by petting him/her and calming them, you are rewarding the anxiety. Staying calm and helping them through the situation is a better option. Getting your dog in a calm state is important and will help balance their behavior. Always have training treats! Stop into Hungry Hound, as we have MANY options.