Posted by Ruff Life Club on Aug 5th 2021

Five Tips to Get Back to School With Your Dog

Hey Ruff Life Club! We’re back to talk about training your dog. It felt like every other customer that came through the store this last year got a new puppy! It made sense, people were at home and isolated from friends, family, and other regular activities. An animal companion is a perfect way to bring new joy and activity into your life.

However, now that many people are returning to work, routines are changing and both owners and animals have to adjust to new schedules. For many, this transition, or gray area where schedules are still not quite back to normal, is especially challenging with a new animal and they are running into common but still problematic behavior issues.

The behaviors new and experienced owners are seeing are separation anxiety, fear of strangers, acting out, barking, overexcitement, and a lack of basic skills, among others. Believe it or not, these are very common behavior issues with dogs! There just seems to be a lot more of it because so many people introduced a new animal to their home in the last year. If you are struggling with your dog, know that you are NOT alone!

The answer to all of these problems is simple: Invest. In. Training. As a new or experienced dog owner, your priority with your pet should be training and reinforcing the behaviors you want. Any time you interact with your dog, you are actively demonstrating the rules and regulations of the world you live in with them. It is your responsibility as a dog owner to clearly establish what behaviors are acceptable or not.

There are an incredible amount of resources out there to help you on your journey with your pet. Almost all trainers put information on social media, including free tips and tricks for working with your pet. You can sign up for more in depth courses online, or you can go directly to a trainer and work in person. There is no wrong way to get started. The most important thing is that you do!

In honor of the back to school season and to help you get on track with your pup, here are five tips to jump start training:

  1. Ditch the bowl. Instead of feeding your dog a full meal from their bowl and then expecting them to pay attention with training treats on the walk, take 10 minutes (or less depending on their age) to put them to work through their obedience commands, or to teach them new skills while using their daily meals!
  2. Do not let them rush through thresholds. Thresholds are doors, gates, kennels, anything where the environment changes on the other side. Instead, ask them to wait by utilizing a skill they already know, like sit or down. Once they sit and let you pass through, if applicable, then they can be released by a specific command.
  3. Be firm, but fair. You are the owner, you are in charge! Help your dog learn the boundaries of your home by creating and enforcing clear expectations. And, providing clear consequences for improper behavior. This is where you get to be creative as a dog owner. What do you need your dog to do for you or with you? Once you know, get to work using repetition to help your dog learn. They’ll be excited to be put to work and you get the peace of mind knowing that your dog is comfortable and confident in your home.
  4. Play with your dog! Dogs love to play. Instead of letting them just roam around the backyard or hoping that your walk will tire them out, get engaged! Play is a great way to teach them new things and build your connection with them, which can directly affect how they respond to you in different situations. You can find a ton of game ideas on a quick google search, or simply playing with some of their favorite toys can get them excited and working with you.
  5. V-turn for walking. If you have a dog that pulls on the walk, try using a V-turn at the beginning of your walks to get their attention and remind them that someone else is at the other end of the leash! Many trainers teach a version of this so you can find great guidance in online videos or in your training sessions. The important thing is to turn into your dog, not away, so that you are in control of the direction and pace of your walk. Check out our video on instagram for a short tutorial on this technique. 

Training doesn’t have to be work, but it is important to put in the time! If you need ideas or help finding a local trainer, come in and visit us in store. Please note, if you are struggling with significant behavioral issues, make sure to consult a professional trainer that has demonstrated experience with other dogs with similar issues. Safety for yourself, your dog, and others is the number one consideration when working with significant behavioral modifications.

Thanks for tuning in and keep an eye out for more Ruff Life Club Adventures!