Life with your dog can be difficult sometimes. Not knowing what to do with your new puppy, dealing with a dog with destructive/inappropriate problem behaviors, having a dog that is constantly on the go and is driving you NUTS - you are not alone! All of these are examples of issues the common pet owner struggles with.
To make life a little easier for you and your dog, I have made a quick list of things you can start doing at home! While there are a lot of other ways to help these issues, this list is a short and sweet way to get on the right track!
SET RULES AND BOUNDARIES
One of the first things you want to do when you bring your dog home (or preferably before!) is to set rules and boundaries for your house. It is a good idea not to give your new puppy/dog too much freedom too fast until he/she learns your rules.
Sit down with your family or anyone else that will be interacting with your dog and write down a list of rules and commands for your dog (TRUST ME IT HELPS!).
What is your dog allowed to do/not do? Can he get on the nice sofa? Jump on guests? Go into the dining room unsupervised? Can he/she eat human food from the table? The answer to these questions should be no! Once your dog learns manners and your rules, you can add more privileges slowly - maybe your dog can get on the couch if invited, maybe your dog can jump up if given a specific command, etc. If any of these privileges start causing issues, you can take them away!
What are your commands and what do they mean? Does "down" mean lay down or get off the furniture? Is the command to call your dog "come" or "here"? Pick your commands and stick with their meanings! It will increase your reliability and decrease confusion.
You completed the easy part! Now it is time to stick to your list and be CONSISTENT!
EXERCISE AND PHYSICAL STIMULATION
Everyone knows that dogs need physical exercise and when your dog doesn't get the exercise it needs you can see the impact almost immediately. For me, I know how hard it can be to make sure your dog gets enough physical exercise each day. If you have a busy life, just start by adding one 5 minute walk a day. Keeping this walk brisk and on task instead of letting your dog sniff around and stop here and there will help TREMENDOUSLY. We call this a structured walk. Teach your dog heel, make him/her match your pace and he will tire out much faster! Adding this into your routine will cut back on problem behaviors and help your dog be HAPPY and HEALTHY!
There are tons of other ways to get your dogs physical exercise in: treadmill, fetch, swimming, flirt pole, spring pole, etc.!
One thing most people don't think about is mental stimulation. They work so hard to tire their dog out physically each day. Don't get me wrong, physical exercise is great! BUT you will eventually create an athlete that just needs more and more to actually get tired.
Mental stimulation is just as important if not more important than physical. What is mental stimulation? Mental stimulation is when you do things like tricks, behaviors and puzzles that make your dog THINK. Take a few minutes each day and do things to make your dog think - Nose work (there are great beginners guides online), puzzle games, teach a trick, and more!
There are also a lot of things to do that can be mentally AND physically stimulating at the same time, so keep that in mind!
In short, exercise your dog's body AND mind! You and your dog will be happier for it.
TRAIN YOUR DOG
Last but certainly not least - train your dog! Spend a few minutes everyday teaching your dog something....anything! Start with the basic commands and work your way up. Even simple things like teaching your dog to step on a box will help with his confidence, behavior, and his bond with you. Train your dog to sit, down, stay, place, heel and come. Teach your dog to touch a target with his nose. Lead your dog over a log with a tasty treat and then add the command "jump"! The limits to training are endless and these are just a few examples. Training is supposed to be fun so keep it lighthearted and just spend good quality time helping your dog learn new things! Did I mention that training is VERY mentally stimulating?
These are just a few basic tips that will start to turn your life with your dog around for the better! If you have any questions or need help training your dog, give us a call!
Happy Tails Dog Training of Memphis, TN