January Is National Train Your Dog Month
By Diane Fishman
It’s the perfect time to take 20 minutes a day to form (or improve) a healthy and powerful bond with your pup - whether only a few months or even 10 years old. Dedicating time to teach them manners, walking, or house-breaking early on will make living together easier. Do it right from the start, and you’ll be in awe about the way your pup will eventually read your mind!
House-breaking. Breeders and veterinarians recommend crate training. It re-creates the actual ‘den’ environment or comfort zone that dogs needed for thousands of years while resting, caring for puppies, or healing from an injury. It’s where they feel safe, sheltered, and less anxious. A crate is their own bedroom- so be sure only happy things occur there: a cozy blanket or bed and an engaging Kong Toy or food puzzle toy make this home. Be sure you do not use the crate for punishment or harsh reprimands. Always give him a treat (such as Zuke’s mini Naturals -For All Your Adventures in Training) when he enters- it’s a joyful place. Bring your puppy to the crate for naps, and for quiet time after family fun and games. Start in 10-minute increments. Make it fun, don’t force the issue.
While he won’t want to mess up his own den, accidents can happen if he’s kept in the crate for too long a time. He needs frequent breaks. When he first gets out of the crate, immediately take him for a walk to eliminate. And praise him when he does. Be sure to purchase a crate that will be big enough for him when he’s fully grown – he should be able to stand, lie down and turn around in it. You might need a divider at first, so there’s no room for mishaps. As he grows, and controls his potty training, he can move into the entire space.
Many apartment dwellers prefer to train their pups with Wee-Wee Pads and No Worry Pads, if they can’t go out for walks that easily. In that case, the pad should be sprayed with a House Breaking Aid. When the pup exits the crate, he should be immediately introduced to the pad until he eliminates. The pad can be moved further and further away from the crate- until you’re ready to take him outdoors to do his job.
Of course, puppies get into trouble, and Brooklyn Pet Supply has an extensive collection of Nature’s Miracle products that destroy urine on carpeting, fabrics, and hard floors as well. It’s important to clean these accidents up as soon as possible, to prevent repeat performances! There’s also a selection of products that repel (No More Marking) pups from certain locations.
Walking. A good leash, collar and harness are essential for training a dog to walk by your side – and not to pull, jump or chase. Some breeds are natural runners, and certain harnesses and collars are made to control this instinct when you are at the other end of the lead. Chain collars, Martingale collars, Harnesses that attach the leash at the chest - all correct a dog’s pull habits. Look on You Tube for quick lessons on how to use them. However, if you’re dog has a particularly stubborn streak, consider hiring a professional trainer to teach your pup – and YOU – how to walk together.
Obedience. Other than the basic obedience commands -- Sit! Down! Come! Stay! Drop it! and Heel -- “Leave It” is a command that is essential on the streets and parks of Brooklyn. “Leave It’ begins with the game of ‘DON’T PICK UP THE TREAT TIL I SAY IT’S OK”. This ultimately translates into “Leave it – don’t pick up the pepperoni pizza on sidewalk, or don’t chase the squirrel, cat, skunk, etc.”
A word on rewards. In the mind of your dog – treats, toys and playtime with you- are all rewards. As you work together, you will become sensitive to what your dog likes the most, and what encourages his learning the most. Training treats are smaller, so you can reward more of them. In the 20-minute daily lesson, you’ll find that you may need to balance treats, a game of fetch, or a hug from you as rewards. Only you will be able to tell which reward connects with your dog, generates the most progress, and when to change tactics, toys or treats.
Diane Fishman, owner of Brooklyn Pet Supply, was taught to train her dogs by Brian Kilcommons, one of the most esteemed dog trainers in the US, author of many pet training books. Diane and her dogs have also been schooled at The Good Dog Foundation for therapy dogs, and by AKC accredited trainers for competition in dog shows. One of her dogs is an award-winning Rottweiler, Hydee, AKA Great Litter-ary Work.