11/12/2021 - Puppy & Dog Training Advice
New Year, New Habits For Your Dog
As the new year approaches, there is no better time to start looking ahead and planning for the future. Making a conscious choice to create new habits is a great way to make positive changes. We know that it can be hard to find the time we’d like, in our busy schedules, to spend with our pets – so we’re here to give you some recommendations for easy ways to include your pups in your New Year’s Resolutions!
Make Training a Part of Daily Life
Training our dogs doesn’t have to mean finding 30+ uninterrupted minutes to do nothing but drill behaviours! Training can and should be a part of our daily life and routines – dogs are ALWAYS learning, every minute of the day, whether we like it or not - it’s worth taking the time to ensure they are learning the right thing!
Use real-life situations to instil good habits and behaviours – asking for a sit before opening the back door, waiting for your pup to stand or sit calmly before putting their food bowl down, and keeping a pot of snacks to reward your dog for going to their mat when you’re preparing food in the kitchen, eating at the table or trying to relax in front of the TV in the evening are all great ways to train good daily habits.
Learning new things together is another great way to develop a strong relationship between you and your dog – a Dogversity subscription is a great way to have ongoing access to hundreds of training tutorials, so you can work on new things, from home, at any day or time to suit you! You also get to join a great community of like-minded dog owners, as well as having the support of trainers and behaviourists in your living room!
Commit to your Dog’s Education
Research shows that dogs attending ongoing classes are less likely to develop behavioural issues such as reactivity towards other dogs. Not only is training an excellent form of enrichment for our dogs, reward-based training has also been shown to improve a dog’s confidence and optimism and is a great way to develop and maintain our relationships with our pups.
Gone are the days of attending six weeks of puppy classes – a modern training approach takes into account the way dogs learn and therefore knows that ongoing training for at least the first year of a dog’s life is the best way to create reliable behaviours.
Dogs learn in layers, developing their skills over time, so there is no “short cut” to a truly well-trained dog. There is so much to learn, both for handler and dog, by attending regular classes throughout our dog’s puppyhood, adolescence and into adulthood.
Our 44-week Puppy & Dog Training Course is the perfect way to ensure you support your dog through every stage of life and to raise a confident, happy and well-trained pup! We love the personal relationships we can build with our extended training family – ongoing class attendance means we can answer your questions and support you in getting ahead of any issues as soon as they crop up.
Make Time for “Sniffari” Walks
A dog’s primary sense is their sense of smell – this is how they gain the most information about the world around them. Going for a walk without sniffing is similar to us humans going for a beautiful walk while blindfolded – they are missing out! Unlike relying on intense physical exercise (eg fetch!) – which creates incredibly fit adrenaline junkies, who will continue to need more and more exercise to feel satisfied and may become highly strung and anxious due to long-term higher cortisol levels – using their noses is a great way to exercise our dogs’ minds and wear them out in a relaxing, productive way.
Sniffing is a natural behaviour our dogs are hard-wired to do – it makes them feel good, and helps them to decompress and feel satisfied. So, slowing down on their regular walks to make sure they can stop to “smell the roses” (or read the local pee-mail!), as well as finding new walking routes for them to enjoy and explore is a great way to make sure our dogs are getting the most from their walks. It’s not a bad idea for us humans to slow down and spend more time taking in our surroundings, either!
Not only is it vital to our dogs’ mental wellbeing to have daily opportunities to sniff, but scent work can be a wonderful way to make ourselves a part of this fun activity our dogs love and to learn just what our dogs are capable of! Our popular Scent Detectives course is available as an in-person course at our purpose-built Barham site, or for purchase from our online Dogversity platform.
Reward Good Behaviours
It is all too easy to make the common mistake of not noticing when our dogs are being little angels! Unwanted behaviours, by their nature, are much more likely to draw our attention and be harder to ignore – but when our dogs go and find themselves a dog toy to chew, settle down on their bed while we’re busy at our desks or check in with us on a walk, these lovely behaviours are so convenient that we often don’t react to them at all. Taking the time to really watch our dogs, notice when they make good choices and make sure we reward them – with praise, attention, play and food – is a great way to make sure more of our interactions with our dogs are positive ones and that those desirable behaviours keep happening!
There are lots of situations that our dogs will probably have to cope with at some point in their lives, for which we may not have much notice. Preparing them for these strange events is one of the kindest things we can do for our dogs, so they can feel calm and confident and not be stressed or afraid.
Absence training for our new additions, before we go back to work, will make sure they can feel safe in their home and will be able to relax and snooze while you’re gone.
Regular trips to the vet car-park and, when possible, for a weigh-in, cuddles and treats from the staff is a great way to build positive associations with the vets so it’s not such a scary and unfamiliar place if our dogs are ever ill or injured.
Training our dogs to be comfortable with handling and grooming is not only a wonderful way to keep on top of those tricky knots and check them over for any lumps or bumps, but also makes vet and groomer visits much easier for everyone.
Crate training, whether we want to use one at home or not, is a great way to prepare our dogs for spending time in these enclosed spaces in preparation for car journeys, vet stays or even staying in holiday rentals or hotel rooms.
Our Puppy’s First Step course is a great starting point for learning all about crate training, absence training and more.
Enjoy Your Dog!
Hopefully these suggestions have given you some inspiration for how to make the most of the precious time you have with your pup! These habits are a wonderful way to find more opportunities to have positive interactions with your dog, develop a strong relationship and build a happy life together. We know that, as dedicated pet parents, you all want the best for your pups – some new year’s resolutions are hard, but finding time for our pets doesn’t have to be!