Most dogs come to us with the need for training. Whether they are barkers or escape artists, diggers or anxious around strangers, chances are, your doggo will need a little help in the behavior department. This is especially true for dogs who have been rescued, as we rarely know their backgrounds.
If your pet needs some help with training and socialization, the good news is that there is hope for improvement. The team at Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital has some pointers for teaching your pet good behavior, with an eye on a fear-free, positive experience.
What is Fear-Free Dog Training
You may have heard about Fear-Free Veterinary Clinics. This means that the veterinary professionals can become certified to practice techniques that alleviate fear and anxiety. Since many pets are anxious about going to the vet, or other pet-related visits, this certification gives peace of mind to pet owners.
Our certified behavior consultant at Oakhurst, Karen Fazio CDBC, is a certified Fear-Free professional. She incorporates these techniques into her positive behavioral training for dogs. Please feel free to call us to learn more!
5 Tips for Positive, Rewards-Based Training
Along with professional training, you can start your pet off on the right paw using positive reinforcement at home. Here are a few simple steps to take to make Fido a well-behaved pet.
- Use easy commands – The basics of training for all dogs is to know simple commands. This helps keep your pet safe and will give your pet the tools needed for being a good dog citizen. Commands like “sit,” “stay,” “drop it” and others are needed before more advanced training takes place. Practice these commands daily with your pet and reward them with praise and treats when they respond to you.
- Practice using commands in public – Once your pet starts to get commands, use them in places where there are distractions. Parks, pet supply stores, and around the neighborhood can give you a sense of how your pet keeps focus on you. (Don’t forget the treats!)
- Use games as an added incentive – If your dog loves to play fetch or run an agility course, use it to practice your basic commands training. If your pet likes to walk, use the time to practice loose-leash training. If you are working on your pet’s household training, take them outside for a quick game of fetch when they respond to a command. Keep it fresh and fun.
- Switch to attention in lieu of treats – A big part of positive rewards training is using your attention and time as rewards. This time training your pet is critical to developing a well socialized dog and a stronger bond between you. Use your enthusiasm and praise as rewards, along with snuggle time or exercise to encourage your pet’s good behavior.
- Learn about your pet’s positives and challenges – During this time, you will get to know what your pet’s challenges are, such as strangers or trips in the car. You can use this information to minimize fear and anxiety. This time also gives you information about what your pet does expertly, so you can praise them for their amazing behavior. Win-win!
The team at Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital is here for you. If your pet needs some help with training, please call our Fear-Free team.