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20 Training Dos And Don'ts

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Dog lovers sometimes wonder why, despite their best efforts, their attempts at pet training fall short of expectations. No matter what you try, Rex still thinks the couch is his personal kingdom and Rover roams to areas that you want him to learn are out of bounds. As you’ve probably discovered, training takes more than just hoping your dog will read your mind and obey.

To help make training easier for you, here's our list of Top 20 Training Dos and Don'ts.

First, the Dos:

  • Do focus on your dog. Training must be about bringing him into your world by understanding his instincts and natural behaviors.
  • Do be honest with him. Never fool him into doing what you want or tease him with commands you teach him.
  • Do begin each command with the end in sight. Reward your dog lavishly—but only when he has completed the task you've set.
  • Do be consistent. Always use the same words for desired behaviors and the same tone of voice.
  • Do think ahead. Anticipate your dog's actions before he moves.
  • Do reward or admonish your dog immediately. He needs to associate praise or admonishment with the specific act.
  • Do teach him one command at a time. More than one command can easily confuse even the cleverest dog.
  • Do allow enough time for him to take in your command and then act. He may not react immediately, but this is not necessarily a sign of disobedience. Be patient.
  • Do enjoy yourself and he will too. This way, he'll associate his training with companionship—so it will become easier for both of you. And play with your dog before and after each training session.
  • Do be kind and patient. A poorly trained dog is the fault of the trainer, not the dog.

Knowing what to do is only half the story. Coupled with that, successful training depends on understanding the Don'ts:

  • Don't ever allow others to pamper him any more than you would. You're his master—the de facto alpha dog in your home pack—and he must look to you for leadership.
  • Don't ever finish a training session on a bad note. Remain positive and praise him for any progress made.
  • Don't punish him while you're angry. Training should be a pleasurable and nourishing experience for both of you.
  • Don't lose your temper while training. He needs to understand that you are in control.
  • Don't chase him if you want him to come. The idea is make him come to you.
  • Don't deceive your dog. Never shower him with praise to bring him to you and then punish him because he's been naughty. Be honest with him.
  • Don't continually repeat the same command to your dog until he executes it. He should understand you very early. Be patient but don't overuse the command.
  • Don't discipline your dog for disobedience unless you're certain that he understood the command you gave. And remember, discipline and punishment are two very different things.
  • Don't reward your dog for a given behavior, then, later admonish him for the same behavior. Consistency is crucial.
  • Don't allow anybody else to command your dog while you're training him.

This list isn't meant to be exhaustive, but just enough to help direct you in the right direction when it comes to successfully training your dog. For some dogs and their owners, these tips may be enough. However, if your efforts are still unsuccessful, it may be time to seek the help of a professional dog trainer.

  • When Should You Switch Your Senior Dog to Soft Food?

    smiling lab sitting in front of brick wall

    As your dog ages, you’ll likely notice changes in your best pal’s energy levels, routine and even muzzle. Older pets may require adjustments to help them get around, exercise and live their best life as a senior. One important aspect of caring for a dog entering their golden years is diet.

    When it comes to diet, every dog has unique, individual needs, regardless of age. So, there's no one easy answer to the question of soft food versus hard food. Both types of food can provide your dog with the nutrition they need — as long as you feed your dog a high-quality dog food that’s nutritionally balanced and complete.

    two dogs eating from two bowls

    Signs Your Senior Dog May Benefit from Wet Food

    If your dog has very specific health concerns, such as aging joints or weight issues, consult with your vet for more information about what type of food best addresses your dog's needs. That being said, there are a few reasons why you may consider switching your senior dog to soft food.

    fluffy brown dog yawning showing teeth

    Teeth Sensitivity

    As your dog gets older, their teeth may become more sensitive, which can make chewing kibble more difficult and even uncomfortable. Switching to a soft food can help to alleviate your pet’s oral discomfort when eating.

    However, if your dog is experiencing serious pain at mealtime from a condition like tooth decay or gingivitis, switching to soft food won't remedy the problem. Make sure you talk to your vet about oral care and dental treatment.

    Digestion Aid

    Digestion begins in the mouth with saliva, so if your dog has a tendency to scarf down meals, they may not be adequately chewing the food or adding enough saliva to it. Soft food can aid with digestion because it's more easily chewed.

    Hydration Help

    It’s no surprise that wet food has a higher moisture content when compared to dry kibble. If your senior pup is prone to urinary-tract issues or simply needs a little help staying hydrated, canned dog food may be a good choice.

    girl kissing older dog on the head

    Slower Metabolism

    Aging dogs tend to have a slower metabolic rate compared to their younger years, which puts them at a higher risk of becoming overweight or obese. Many nutritionally balanced wet dog foods offer high protein content with fewer carbs than dry food, which can benefit older dogs with slower metabolism. Always talk to your vet if you have concerns about your pup’s weight.

    Picky Eaters

    While wet food may be less than appetizing to humans, the opposite is true for dogs! If your aging best friend has started turning their snout up to dry food, wet food tends to be more appealing to picky eaters. Mixing wet food and kibble offers your pup a variety of flavors and textures; try adding wet food as a topper on dry food for a real treat!

    Whether you choose dry food, soft food  or a mix of both, ask your vet before making any transition. And when it's time to switch your dog's food, remember to do it slowly — even if it's the same brand and flavor — to help prevent stomach upset and allow your dog time to adjust.

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