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Training Your Pooch: The Natural Way

Integrating Dog Training into Your Everyday Life: Making It Natural and Fun

Bringing home a new puppy (or even an older dog) is like signing up for a rollercoaster ride. There will be high points of pure joy and low points where you might feel overwhelmed. But here's the secret sauce to make this ride smoother: integrate training into your everyday life naturally. Not only will this help your furry friend learn faster, but it will also make the whole experience much more enjoyable for both of you.

Puppy Parenting: The (Not So) Secret Hard Work

Let’s start with the truth: puppy parenting is hard work if you do it right. The good news? It’s the kind of hard work that pays off in wagging tails, sloppy kisses, and a well-behaved companion. Imagine your puppy not chewing your favorite shoes or your older dog not barking at every passing squirrel. Blissful, right? But how do you get there? The answer is simple: keep it natural and integrate training into your daily routine.

Training Tips for Natural Learning

1. Short and Sweet Sessions: Training doesn’t have to be a marathon. In fact, it’s better if it isn’t. Factor in a couple of minutes here and there to work on formal commands. For example, while you're waiting for your coffee to brew, practice “sit” and “stay.” Before bedtime, reinforce “in your bed.” These mini-sessions are easy to fit into your day and prevent your dog from getting bored or overwhelmed.

2. Use Everyday Moments as Training Opportunities: Natural learning happens in real-life scenarios. If you drop a piece of food while cooking, use it as a chance to practice “leave it.” If you’re going out the door, make your dog sit and wait until you say “okay.” These little moments add up to big learning.

3. Clear Boundaries and Consistency: Dogs thrive on consistency. Make sure everyone in the household is on the same page with the rules. If the couch is off-limits, it has to be off-limits for everyone and all the time. Your dog will naturally learn these boundaries if they are clear and consistently reinforced.

A little warning: If like this clip above you find it funny (ie they try to eat your hose water or hoover) or ignore something your dog does (barking) or even accidentally reward with physical contact (pushing them down when they jump) attention and food (ie begging) etc… then your dog will learn to maybe do that thing again, it’s great to enjoy in the moment but be aware you will have to work a little harder next time your faced with this and if it becomes a problem for you later on. Always think… “what would I rather you did right now?!” Then get the treats and keep your boundary clear (ie staying on the sofa while you hoover) reward for little stages and build on reliability with the more you encounter the opportunity to practice.

Also I cannot stress enough how important appropriate exercise is for your dog, they are much less likely to jump up at you, pinch your shoes or bite your hair bobble if they are sleeping…..! If you are not exercising your dog correctly they will get ‘naughty’ it needs to be regular and involve mental, physical and sniff time exercises… you know you have the mix right when your dog can chill willingly in the evening and not run around steeling things.

Examples of Natural Learning

The Leave-It Command: You’re in the kitchen chopping vegetables, and a piece of carrot hits the floor. Instead of just picking it up, say “leave it,” wait for your dog to comply, then reward with a treat. This real-life practice reinforces the command in a practical context.

The Bed Command: When it’s time for your dog to settle down for the night or when guests arrive, calmly direct them to their bed. Use a treat to guide them, say “in your bed,” and reward them for staying there. Over time, your dog will naturally associate their bed with a positive, calm place to be.

Natural Learning vs. Formal Training

Not everything has to be learned through formal training sessions. Dogs are incredibly intuitive and can pick up on many things through everyday interactions. For example, if you always take off your shoes and put them away when you come home, your dog will notice this routine. If you consistently ignore them when they jump up for attention and only pet them when they sit calmly, they’ll soon figure out that calm behavior gets them the attention they crave.

Light-hearted Anecdotes

Remember, training doesn’t have to be serious business all the time. Inject some humor and enjoy the process. Like the time when you tried to teach “fetch” and your puppy decided that running in circles with the ball was much more fun. Or when you taught “roll over” and they just laid there giving you the “you’ve got to be kidding me” look. These moments, though frustrating at times, are part of the journey and often make for the best stories.

Conclusion: Making It Fun and Natural

The key to successful dog training is to weave it into the fabric of your daily life. Keep it natural, be consistent, and most importantly, enjoy the process. After all, the bond you build with your dog during training is just as important as the commands they learn. So, take a deep breath, grab some treats, and start turning those everyday moments into training opportunities. Your future self—and your well-behaved dog—will thank you.

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