We’ve all felt, “if I’d only known…” I was curious about what my dog training students wished they’d learned sooner about dog ownership, training, and management. What advice or knowledge would have been helpful? My students share their favorite tips below.
I'm GLAD I crate trained my pup. In the beginning we tried everything BUT using a crate. We had Scooby gated in the kitchen (swing and a miss, he started chewing cabinets and climbed over gate not long after haha). Now that he's used to the crate, it has definitely helped - especially with potty training. - Scooby’s owner
First, patience, patience, patience - even with reading blogs/books, it takes time for the puppy to learn! Next, I love a cow hoof for a chewing distraction – our vet recommended that! Finally, swapping out toys and only having so many out on the floor at a given time is another great idea. It didn’t occur to me (at first) that having tons of toys out meant that Shelby might learn that anything on the floor is hers. - Shelby’s owner
At the first class, Sadie was holding her tail down and showing other uncomfortable behaviors; Jasey said Sadie needed more socialization. We signed Sadie up for day camp (to play) and day school (to train with a trainer) for more socialization. By even the second class, Sadie was already much better, happier, and more confident! In addition, Sadie needed to interact with other puppies to get out her puppy behaviors and energy appropriately – this helped her to stop biting and jumping on us, her people. - Sadie’s owner
My biggest takeaways to share include:
- The importance of socializing with other dogs, to new people and to new environments. I took her into Lowes (home improvement store) and outside of the entrances of big stores, like Target!
- Crate training my dog to be calm in the kennel both when I was home and not home. It’s so easy to skip teaching a dog how to be quiet and content in the kennel when humans are home!
- Using Kongs filled with frozen dog food. - Maizie’s owner
I definitely wish I had known that it was possible to have a polite furniture dog! I knew when I got Moxie that I wanted her to sleep in my bed and lay on the couch with me sometimes…what I DIDN’T know was that “sometimes" in my mind equaled entitlement in hers. It became hard to have guests over without her all over them, no matter where they sat! It wasn’t until we started training in dog classes (after Moxie could already jump up on the furniture) that I learned it was possible to have her get on and off the furniture when asked. Moxie is now learning that furniture is invitation only! - Moxie’s owner
I wish I had known that I wasn’t going to break my dog by not knowing how to use the clicker right away - the best (and most frustrating) part of dog training was learning how to hold a leash, click a clicker, and dispense treats, all in the proper order. My dog was just so excited to be there that she didn’t care that I messed it up a bunch before I figured it out. I’d go back and tell myself to have fun and not be too hard on myself for a lack of coordination! - Emma’s owner
My secret weapon was having an expert (Jasey!) to field all my questions. Find an expert, such as a dog trainer, who can answer questions and point you in the right direction. Enroll in puppy class sooner than later! - Bishop's owner
I could give you a whole novel on this but I'll keep it short:
- Please stop repeating commands to the dog - it only causes them to not listen to you and you sound like a distressed dog owner with no control.
- Your energy dictates your dog's energy.
- It's cute when the puppy jumps up for attention when he's 20lbs, but not very cute when he's 45lbs. Don't encourage behaviors you want to avoid later down the road.
Frozen pumpkin puree inside a Kong is a teething puppy's dream popsicle, a total life saver! (Note: Not all dogs do well with pumpkin and sweet potato; these tend to soften or firm up stool. To ensure new foods agree with your dog’s stomach, provide new foods in small amounts until you determine the food works for your dog.) - Rory’s owner
What great hindsight views from these fellow dog owners! To learn more about some of the topics mentioned above, please see these blogs: socialization, crate training, dogs and furniture, and housetraining.