Even if you’re not planning to have your pets enter a talent show, it’s a good idea to have some basic training commands down pat. Pets with basic training are more obedient and respectful of their owner. Training also helps to mentally stimulate your pet which alleviates boredom for your furry friend. And don’t forget, cats can be trained too!
Here are the basics that all pets and pet owners should have for successful training.
- Rewards. To successfully train, your pet needs to be motivated. Find out what entices them the most. Is it a special toy? Treats? Your verbal praise?
- Patience. Some pets learn more quickly than others and it’s important to remember this. Patience pays off. If your pet becomes bored, switch tasks or allow him to do something else and come back to training a few hours later.
- Consistency. When you choose a command, stick to it. Reward your pet every time it obeys. While your pet may learn quickly, it can just as easily forget if you confuse it with inconsistent commands and rewards.
- Practice. Practice, in this case, is a combination of patience and consistency. Practice regularly and repeatedly. If your pet learns a trick one week, but you never practice, then his skills may become rusty or forgotten.
- Sit. Hold a treat in front of your pet’s nose. Slowly move it back over his head so that he is inclined to follow the treat and naturally fall into the sit position. Release the treat when he is sitting.
- Stay. Tell your pet to stay, then take a few steps away. Return and give a treat if he didn’t move. Gradually increase practice time.
- Off/Down. Some pets love to jump on people to greet, or may jump on furniture when they aren’t supposed to. Teach them off or down (be consistent!) and reward whenever all four paws are on the floor.
- Lay. From the sitting position, hold a treat to your pet’s nose and slowly move it toward the floor so your pet is inclined to follow and fall into the lay position.
- Leave it. Temptations can be hard to resist! Teach your pet that obeying your request will offer a greater reward: your praise and treats. Practice by placing a treat or toy on the ground and telling your pet to “leave it” and reward if he obeys. Start with the treat far away and gradually move it closer to your pet.
- Come. Rewards are key for this command. Call your pet’s name. When he comes to you, praise and reward enthusiastically. Start at close distances and gradually move farther away.
As with all training, consistency and rewards are key. Be sure your pet knows he did a good job and he will be well behaved in no time!
For more in-depth training lessons, please consult your local certified pet trainer.