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Training Your Pet
August 19, 2021
We hate to break it to you, but the dog days of summer are slip-slidin’ away. We at Bivvy hope you’ve had a blissful summer with your families and pets, and that you soak up these last little bits of summer sweetness over the next couple of weeks.
If you work in education, or have children, back-to-school shopping may have already started, and class will be back in session soon. Is there another member of your family that could use some schooling? Your four-leggeds? Training and structure are pretty important for at least our canine family members to have in their lives. If you’re thinking it’s a good time for your pet to get some learning this fall too, here are some basic principles to keep in mind, and a rundown on the options you have available.
Teaching Your Puppy the Basics
If you’re committed, getting your puppy skilled in the basics is all stuff you can do on your own. But professional training is an option if you don’t think you’re up to being consistent about it yourself.
And you can start doing 5-10 minute sessions as soon as your puppy comes home around the age of eight weeks. Whatever you work on, make positive reinforcement the goal rather than teaching by punishment, like leash corrections or yelling. Your positive reinforcement for training can be a high-value treat, over-the-top praise, or playing with a favorite toy when your pup does well. Always end your sessions on a positive note, and remember to put in the time to bond with your little one, as the first step towards success is building a foundation of trust.
The American Kennel Club recommends beginning training with a recall, aka coming when called. Begin indoors in a quiet area. And here’s their recommended method:
Once you’re ready to take the recall training outside, stay in a safe, enclosed area for a good long while.
A Note on When to Send a Puppy to Boarding School
Sending your puppy to something like a Board and Train program is a totally legit option too, just know that there are differing philosophies about how old your pup should be before being sent off. Some advocate for a substantial imprinting period when you first bring a puppy home—meaning the time in which they’ll build the foundations of their bond with you. You want your puppy to be bonded to you, not to the trainer. Some breeders recommend as much as six months of time of imprinting before sending them off for training.
Schooling an Adult Dog
You can teach an old dog new tricks, but it’ll take a bit more perseverance. They’re more likely than a pup to be a bit high-strung at first. You’ve missed out on their prime socialization window earlier in life, and if they came from a shelter, they may not have gotten much there. If training from this point, go slow and get to know your dog’s personality.
One common challenge is teaching an adult dog to walk pleasantly without pulling. The dog may have had a lifetime of being able to walk however they want and being “rewarded” for pulling by it getting them where they want to go quicker. It’s up to you to correct that.
Make sure you’ve got a collar that’s not too tight or loose, a good leash, and treats. Consider a training lead—a shorter leash--or a head halter, which looks like a muzzle. The latter will be foreign to them but not painful; just get them used to wearing it before walking. Or try exercising a little before a walk to get some of their energy out.
Call in Reinforcements
There’s no shame in hiring outside help to train your pet. Good lingo to look for when shopping for a trainer is “rewards-based,” “R+,” and “force-free.” Here are some different types of professionals that can help:
Bivvy provides affordable pet insurance for cats and dogs of all ages and breeds, so while thinking about sending them back to school, think about great healthcare too that’ll set them up for success too! Accidents and illnesses are within scope of Bivvy pet insurance, so sign up today to protect your pet.
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