Love is not enough
If you suspect that your vet’s pet is better disciplined or healthier than yours, you’re probably right. Even the most loving pet parents can make mistakes with their furry, feathered, or finned friends. Not sure what you’re doing wrong? We’ve got a few ideas – or more accurately, the veterinarians and other pet experts we interviewed do. While veterinarians may not tell you some of their secrets, they are more than happy to divulge this information so that you and your pet live a long, happy life together. Whether you’re killing Fido with kindness or over-disciplining Cuddles, here’s what you may be doing wrong – and how to fix it.
You don’t train your pet right away
Parents don’t wait until their kids need to read to start teaching them their ABCs. It’s the same with dogs. Training them early not only gives them guidelines for appropriate behaviour – it also provides them with the comfort and stability that comes with living within boundaries. “The biggest mistake pet owners make is not putting enough priority in their pet’s training until a problem arises,” says Eleasha Gall, a professional dog trainer. “Training isn’t just about tricks or obedience. It’s also critical for developing communication tools between a pet parent and their companion animal.”
In fact, the ideal time to learn how to train your pet – or to find a trainer – is before adopting. “Learn what to do in advance, to avoid being overwhelmed when welcoming a new pet to the home,” says Gall. “Even previous dog owners who think they have enough experience could do well with classes for their pet. One of the most common attendees of training sessions are other trainers. There’s always opportunity for more learning and bonding.”
You think your pet is too old to be trained
Even an old dog can learn new tricks, so don’t hesitate to take home that older shelter dog – or to start training a beloved pet who was never taught in the first place. “Even dogs that initially seem unadoptable or untrainable can be taught proper behaviours and set up for success in a home environment,” says Gall. The important thing is to practice positive-reinforcement training methods rather than punishment-based ones. “If a dog is kept busy with positive tasks and rewards, they won’t have time to act out negatively,” she adds. “Giving that type of encouraging response to a pet will establish communication tools while helping them feel loved and enabled to continue their good habits. Soon enough, those trained actions will become the routine, resulting in a stronger bond and happier household.”
And if you want to get fancy, This is what your favourite dog breed says about your personality.