You’ve just brought home a new puppy or rescue dog. Now to train him! Our Charlotte veterinarians share the dog training advice for new owners.
Our Best Dog Training Advice
Whether you choose to train your new puppy or rescue dog yourself, hire an instructor or head to classes, every pooch can benefit from some essential training tips.
We see a lot of dogs on a regular basis at our clinic, and the best-trained ones respect their owner as the alpha. They've also been trained with consistency in mind, so they always know what to expect.
To start with a good foundation, consider having your puppy spayed or neutered when he’s of appropriate age, as dogs who have been “fixed” are less aggressive, more calm and potentially more open to training.
Set house rules
When it comes to training, dogs respond best to consistency. It’s only fair to be clear with yourself and your family on what you expect of your new pup before you bring him home.
Decide what he is and isn’t allowed to do. Can he sleep in your bed? Stake out a spot on the couch? What about rooms - are there any off limits? Clarifying your expectations avoids confusion and indecision later.
Teach him to come on command
One of the first basic commands your furry friend will need to master is “Come!” Always use his name when commanding him to come and follow up with positive reinforcement.
As he develops, try the command in other situations, such as when his attention is elsewhere, and get him used to responding.
Reward good behavior and be quick with treats and praise
One of the first tenets of dog training is to always reward good behavior with positive reinforcement. Whether it’s a pat on the head, belly rubs, scratches in his favorite spot or a treat or toy, your pup lives to please you.
Puppy-proof your house
If you have kids, you’ll remember child-proofing your house to keep them safe and reduce risk of danger - or your prized possessions getting destroyed. Do the same for your puppy by providing a safe place to put him when he’s not being directly supervised, such as a crate or pen, with safe toys that are exclusively his.
Don’t delay teaching moments
Just as you want to reward good behavior, you want to recognize teaching moments as they happen. Seasoned dog owners will tell you that pups live in the moment and need lots of repetition.
If you’re going to enforce a rule or lesson, it has to be done immediately after they do the deed - they’ve already forgotten what they’ve done a few minutes later, so they will truly be confused and unable to make the association between their actions and corrections or training techniques unless they’re done right away. Consistent repetition gets results.
Remember: dogs do what makes them feel safe or happy
One of the most common mistakes we see dog owners make is that they attribute human emotions to their furry companions.
While we love them dearly and they feel like a member of the family, they’re not human, meaning they aren’t vengeful creatures who plan to upset us or tick us off. They do what makes them feel happy or safe at the time, and that can be both good and bad.