Keeping pets is a hobby around the world, and it dates back for centuries. Many historical photos, paintings, journal entries, and more show people of all social classes owning dogs and cats, birds and reptiles, and more. In fact, keeping squirrels as pets was fashionable in the 1700s, and some American presidents have owned alligators or peacocks as pets. Today, though, squirrels and peacocks are not standard pets; rather, dogs and cats dominate, and many Americans also own songbirds, fish, and snakes, along with small mammals such as rabbits and hamsters. The APPA’s latest market research has stated that 68% of all American households own at least one pet, with a total of 90 million dogs and 94 million cats.
Is your dog or cat well behaved and comfortable in your home? Pet owners want what’s best for their pets, and this ranges from visits to the vet clinic to fur brushing, providing clean water, and proper training and getting them used to being around similar animals. So, a variety of pet training tips can keep any household happy no matter how many species live there, and such pet training tips can make things easier for guests too, from friends and family to plumbers (when you hire a plumbing company) and gutter repairs workers who step inside to discuss payments.
Pet Training Tips: Comfort
This is only peripherally related to pet behavior, but it can help. A dog or cat should be well taken care of, and if the animal is comfortable and provided with everything it may need, then it should be better behaved and stay in a good mood. Dogs and cats have moods and emotions like people do, ranging widely from happiness to loneliness, anxiety, and possibly even depression. Mental health applies to your four-legged friends too, so you are well-advised to look after them.
What does this entail? Your pet should get regular feeding with proper food for its species, age, and size, and this is especially important for dogs, which vary more widely than cats. A pet can also get treats, either wet or dry, as rewards for good behavior or simply once a day for its own sake. Dogs can get bone-shaped biscuits, and a cat could be given highly flavorful wet food from a can. And of course, make sure that if your pet has particular dietary needs, then its food is designed to meet those needs, such as a sensitive stomach or to prevent hairballs. A pet should also get regular access to clean drinking water, and when outside in the heat, that pet should have access to shady areas and water to stay cool and comfortable. During winter, the pet should be toweled off once it’s back inside, so its fur doesn’t get cold from melted snow.
Your pet may also like regular brushing and grooming, especially dogs. Cats can groom themselves, but long-haired cats need grooming with a brush, and obese or very old cats may need help from you to keep their coat in good shape. Some breeds of dogs are known to shed a lot, so brushing can remove fur mats and help prevent shedding. Also, these dogs can stay cooler more easily when excess hairs are removed this way. Dirty or smelly dogs will also need a bath, and pet supply stores come with shampoos that work well with dogs. Some such shampoos can also remove and drive off pests such as ticks and fleas.
Pet Training Tips: Discipline and Behavior
Discipline and pets can be tricky to deal with, since there may be a fairly fine line between discouraging bad behavior and animal abuse. For one thing, it is strongly discouraged that you strike your pet or deny it regular food or water, and the pet would b be traumatized rather than learn a lesson anyway. Instead, it is better to discipline a pet right after the unwanted behavior takes place, and use your voice rather than force. Pets can read your tone of voice and even recognize their names, meaning that verbal communication works well even on non-human species. That, combined with your body language, allows you to easily send the message “I don’t like what you just did” to a dog, and possibly a cat, too. Such pet training tips are useful since it is better to discourage a bad behavior early on, and prevent a lot of hassle later on (such as when you get a new puppy or adopt a cat).
Cats might scratch up the drapes or carpet to keep their claws in check, or a dog might chew on just about anything it can fit between its teeth. Pets might also relieve themselves inside until they are trained to use correct areas (dogs in the back yard, cats in the litter box). When cats and dogs do relieve themselves as you want them to, now is the time to praise them with your voice, petting them, giving them a treat, and so on. Your dog or cat will soon make the connection, and repetition can help cement that behavior. As for saving the living room furniture or items from a cat’s claws or dog’s teeth, give them substitute items designed for their needs, such as scratch posts or pads for cats and any variety of chew toys and bones for dogs. Such items are designed to appeal to the pet, especially flavorful bones and rawhides for dogs. Chewing on plastic won’t have the same appeal for your canine as an authentic animal bone will.
Pet Training Tips: Being Around Other People
It is safe to assume that you will sometimes have other people visit your house, anyone from friends and family to construction workers such as roofers or home remodeling experts. When you have such company over, you’ll want your pets to either stay out of the way or be on their best behavior when they are around strangers. Cats, for their part, are more likely to simply run away when they hear a stranger, and proceed to hide under or behind your furniture somewhere far away from the guest. This alone can avoid any incidents. As for dogs, some dogs might hide, being timid around strangers, while others are much more willing to come face to face with people.
Pet training tips demand that your dog behave itself around guests, so the guest feels welcome and does not have to worry about anything from annoying barking to growls and even biting attempts. So, which pet training tips apply here? A puppy does not yet have much experience with people aside from you and your family, so you are encouraged to introduce your puppy to many different people of both sexes, different sizes, and different appearances. Why the variety? This helps puppies get used to the fact that people are highly diverse, and not have an artificially narrow idea of what a person is like. For example, if you are a petite woman living with your daughter, and then your large and boisterous brother happens to visit, your dog might be frightened since your brother is much different from you. But make sure that the various people your puppy meets are all friendly and offer a positive experience for your puppy, because mistreatment may cause your puppy to simply be afraid of strangers instead.
Often, you can give your puppy plenty of exposure to other people (and the world at large) when you take it for a walk (be sure your dog doesn’t get too tired). Outside, the puppy can meet just about anyone, and also get used to seeing and hearing cars. When other people pet your dog, make sure they do so gently, and make sure they only pet your dog on the head or back or scratch its chin (and generally keep their hands where you can see them). If you have a fairly busy schedule, ask a dog sitter to take your dog on walks so it can get used to seeing other people.
All of this and more will allow your dog to be friendly when workers arrive at your property for first floor remodel jobs, for example. Or, if you hired tree trimming crews or a tree pruning professional, your dog should be at ease having strangers in your front or back yard with it. Workers are not only strangers, but they are walking all around your property and are making strange sounds and scents with their tools, paint, and other items. This may be terrifying or alarming for a dog who’s not ready for it, so be sure your dog is acclimated to other people. As mentioned earlier, a cat is most likely to run off and hide somewhere for the entire duration, so this may be a moot point for them. If your cat does come out while strangers are around, watch over your feline and make sure it doesn’t try to scratch anyone.
Pet Training Tips: Other Dogs and Cats
Sometimes, pet training tips tell you what to do if your animal comes into contact with other pets as opposed to other people, and there are a few scenarios where this becomes relevant. For example, you adopt a second dog or cat and the first one must get used to the newcomer, or a friend visits with their dog or your dog meets other canines at the park. Bear in mind that dogs and cats may act differently around strangers of their own kind than other people, both in positive and negative ways. You must be ready for your pet to treat other animals politely and safely.
Puppies and kittens can be acclimated to other pets just the way they can get used to other people. During these early days, it is important that dogs (and often cats) learn how to properly meet other members of their species, or they may end up aggressive or fearful during each meeting. So, you can take your dog to a park and give it positive experiences of meeting other well-behaved dogs, and you can also take your dog to a dog daycare center. There, the employees will know how to handle dogs and get them to get along, and break up potential fights or other bad situations. And as with meeting people, your dog or cat should meet a variety of animals, such as large and big dogs alike, so it doesn’t get confused later on. Your pet should have holistic knowledge of what dogs are like, from Pomeranians to Schnauzers to German Shepherds and border collies, and beyond. Take note that puppies older than 18 weeks may be much slower to get used to other animals if you start this process so late. Earlier is better.
Pet Training Tips: Preventing and Dealing With Trouble
Naturally, you want what’s best for your pet, and you will make all of its experiences positive. Still, problems might come up, anything from an aggressive or badly behaved dog to animals facing off or a person who doesn’t handle pets well. Fortunately, there are well-documented ways to read your pet’s body language, and correctly know what it’s thinking or feeling even though it can’t speak a word.
When your dog or cat is hostile, afraid, or stressed, there is clear body language that you can read. A cat may be more obvious, such as aching its back and puffing up its fur on its back and tail to make itself appear larger. And of course, cats will make their distinctive hisses, and they may do this at people and animals alike who annoy them. Cats are likely to growl, too, and flatten their ears (probably so a hostile animal has more difficulty trying to bite them). Dogs, meanwhile, may growl or bark when hostile, and their fur might stand on end, too. As for fear, a dog will express its fear or stress by means of showing the whites of its eyes, licking its lips, or even yawning. Your dog might also cower and tuck in its tail, or avert its gaze. Stressed or afraid dogs are also known to hold their body rigid while rapidly wagging their tail.
Don’t strike or yell at your dog when it acts this way, or it may simply bite at you to defend itself. Instead, pet training tips urge you to remove your pet from any compromising situation, and other pet owners should do the same (such as if your dog is hostile towards or afraid of your friend’s dog). If a normally docile dog starts acting like this often, take it to the vet, since your dog may be suffering an issue. It may anything from brain cancer to pain and stress from an injury to epilepsy, and more.
Being a pet owner means enforcing good behavior in your dog or cat, so that it is polite and safe around people and other pets both at home and outside. Doing this can keep your pet happy and prevent stress, and allows other people to have fun meeting your pet. This can also help prevent messes or damage in the home, and allow visiting workers to work in peace.