Bringing a dog home for the first time is an exciting experience. Every new dog owner wants to ensure that their new pup is given the love, care and attention that they need to truly thrive in their new home.
But being a first-time dog owner, much like the experience of being a new parent, can also be overwhelming. Ensuring that your dog is properly cared for and well-behaved can be a challenging task, and it can be difficult to know where to begin.
In this dog owner guide, we’ll walk you through several steps to ensuring that your new best friend is as well-behaved as possible. Here are four training tips for new dog owners!
1. Teach Your Dog Patience
Patience is a core foundation to having a well-behaved dog. Not only is a patient dog more enjoyable to be around, but a dog that practices patience is safer, not only to others, but to themselves as well.
The best way to teach a dog patience is to begin at home. When your dog tries to get your attention, whether it be to play, eat or be petted, it can be beneficial to not always give in to their request right away. Instead, you can recognize your dog by speaking to them, but carrying on with what you’re doing. You’ll want to ensure that your dog isn’t waiting too long so that they can realize that they will be rewarded for their patience. However, also ensure that you aren’t going out of your way to bend to the dog’s every whim immediately. Value your time as well as your dog’s.
The earlier you start practicing patience with your pup (and the younger the dog is), the more effective the results will be. If you’re struggling to get the behavior out of your dog that you wish for, consider having your dog work with a professional, like our trainers at Off Leash K9 Training.
2. Teach Your Dog Commands That Will Keep Him Safe
While dogs are an essential part of the family unit, it’s important to remember that they are first and foremost animals. It’s crucial to ensure that they are kept safe and that people and other animals they encounter daily are also safe.
One of the best ways to train a dog with safety in mind is to teach them to respond to verbal commands. Because dogs are often impulsive, it is important to implement safety rules early on to establish boundaries and keep your pup as safe as possible.
There are several verbal commands that you can train your dog to respond to. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, dogs can learn up to 250 words in addition to hand gestures. Talk about a smart best friend!
Two easy commands that can make a world of difference in a dog’s safety are to come when called and to go outside only with permission. Additionally, ensuring that your dog understands how to stop and to stay can also be beneficial.
As an integral part of your family, your dog must stay safe. Teaching your dog commands can help them stay as safe as possible, while also making your life as a pet owner easier.
3. Establish Your Dog’s Hierarchy of Rewards and Use Positive Reinforcement
Did you know that dogs are more likely to repeat behaviors that they have been rewarded for? For example, if your dog gets a treat when they sit, they’ll be more likely to sit in the future. Just like with children, using positive reinforcement training with dogs can be an incredibly effective way to teach your dog valuable skills in a meaningful way.
There are several factors to establish when rewarding your dog through positive reinforcement. Consider the following:
Type of Reward
Dogs, just like their human counterparts, are much more likely to do something if they are rewarded with something that they like. Ensure that whatever you’re giving to your pup as a reward, whether it be a type of treat or a walk, is something that they enjoy.
Choosing the wrong type of reward can hurt your training, as your dog will be less likely to respond and repeat good behavior if they dislike the reward that they are receiving.
Rate of Reinforcement
Another important area to consider when rewarding your dog is how often you are reinforcing their behavior. If you are rewarding your dog too often, you may overwhelm them and confuse them. Reward them too little, and you risk your reinforcement training not sticking with them.
A simple way to ensure that you’re reinforcing your dog the right amount is to aim for your rewards to be frequent enough to keep the training session exciting. If you notice your dog losing interest, you may not be rewarding frequently enough.
Timing and Placement
How you deliver your treat to your dog can make all the difference during a training session. Just like the rate of your reinforcement, the timing of your reward should be as closely synced to the action that your pup is being rewarded for as possible. If you reward your dog too long after they have completed the positive action, they may not remember or draw the comparison for what they are being rewarded for.
Additionally, the placement of your reward can make a big difference in how your dog understands the positives of its actions. For example, if your dog is being rewarded for sitting, ensure that they are given their treat while they are still sitting. Quickly and accurately delivering a treat to your pup can ensure that your dog learns faster and bonds quickly with you during training.
4. Feed and Exercise Your Dog Regularly
Life is busy, and sometimes it can be difficult to remember that your dog needs to be exercised regularly to stay in top physical and mental condition. A dog that does not receive regular exercise is more likely to misbehave and act out, as well as develop health issues at a younger age.
Additionally, aim to feed your dog high-quality, healthy ingredients as part of a well-balanced diet to ensure that your pup is receiving the nutrients needed to be healthy, comfortable and active in their everyday life. An uncomfortable pet is more likely to act out and be less friendly.
Connect With Our Experts at Off Leash K9 Training
Training your dog properly won’t happen overnight. While it takes patience, skill, love and care to effectively train your dog, the results can be incredibly rewarding. Want to learn more about dog ownership for beginners, as well as our top-notch training process? Talk with one of our trainers today — and consider having your dog work with the dog-loving experts at Off Leash K9 Training!