They say pets make a house a home, and that’s certainly true when it comes to dogs. They make a wonderful addition to the family and make loyal and loving companions that are full of personality.
But sometimes this personality can come at a cost. A dog that isn’t trained can cause a lot of problems in your home, causing stress for both you and your pet. This is why it’s important to raise your dog the right way. With a supportive home environment and training, you can help raise a happy dog that is a delight to have in your home.
Take a look at these 15 tips to help you raise a happy and well-behaved dog.
1. Remember that no two dogs are the same
The first thing to remember about dogs is that no two dogs are the same. If you’ve had a dog before, you need to be careful not to make comparisons. Some dogs are easy to train, and some dogs take a little longer. Each dog has its own personality, so you need to treat your dog as an individual and get to know them so you can start building a happy life together.
2. Start training from day one
Training isn’t something to put off. You should start training a new puppy straight away to help them develop some crucial skills early on that will make life easier for you both. Some basic commands to master include:
Teaching some commands, such as sit, is easier than others. Regular training sessions will help your puppy master basic commands, but they will also help keep them busy and stimulated – ideal for tiring out an excitable puppy.
The other aspect of training you’ll want to nail straight away is toilet training. Toilet training doesn’t need to be as difficult as it sounds. With the right approach, you can teach your puppy to go outside and prevent them from making a mess in your home. This TikTok video has some great tips for quickly house-training your puppy:
@vigothetoller How we house trained our 8 week old puppy in three days #housetraining #housetrained #puppytrainingtips #puppytips #newpuppymom ♬ original sound – Vigo the Toller
3. Work out what motivates them
Dogs can be motivated by all kinds of things, and working out what that is can help improve your dog’s training and help you master their behavior. Dogs can be motivated by food, play, affection, a walk – you can work out what they respond to and use it as a reward for their training.
4. Make sure your home is suitable for a dog
Creating the right home environment for your dog can help give them the best start in life. You should ensure they have all the basics, including:
- A bed
- Collar, harness, and leash
- Food and water bowls
- Food and treats
Make sure your dog has some space of their own, as well as plenty of toys and other items to help keep them entertained. A dog that is bored and left to their own devices is likely to seek enjoyment in their way, which can involve biting and chewing your furniture. Give your dog what it needs from the beginning and continue to provide for their needs as they get older.
Some owners prefer to install a doggy door to give them a little freedom to go in and out of the house when they need the toilet. You can find different options for different sizes, including dog door options for large dogs, which can make a difference to your home. Make sure your dog door is secure and that your outside space is safe for your dog to be in.
5. Teach your dog to be independent from a young age
If you don’t teach your dog how to be independent from a young age, you risk developing separation anxiety, which can make it very difficult to leave your dog alone. Getting your dog used to being by themselves is important – it will make your life easier at home, when you want to go out and when you need to leave your dog with someone else. The American Kennel Club has some great tips for dealing with separation anxiety that can help you with leaving your dog alone and teaching them some independence.
6. Learn how to deal with destructive puppy behaviors
Puppies exhibit several behaviors that can be seen as destructive. Many of these can be curbed from a young age, such as nipping and damaging furniture. Knowing how to distract your dog and tell them ‘no’ when these things are happening will help you manage your dog’s behavior at home, and help teach them better manners when they’re out and interacting with people.
7. Feed your dog a healthy diet
A healthy diet is essential to raise a happy dog. From puppy age, you should feed your dog a balanced diet, and try to avoid giving them human food as much as possible. There are a lot of different dog food brands out there, but try to avoid the cheapest – often these foods are full of bulking products which means your dog gets less essential protein and vitamins than it would from other food.
Many people advocate feeding dogs a raw diet, but this may not be for everyone. If you’re unsure about your dog’s diet, consult your vet who will be able to advise you on what’s best for your pet. Remember that a dog’s needs can change over time, and they may need specialist food to account for changes in their health as they get older.
8. Brush their teeth
Many dog owners neglect their dog’s teeth, but dental care is very important for your dog’s overall health. You should start brushing your dog’s teeth from when they’re a puppy to help them get used to it. Just like people, dogs can develop a build-up of plaque that may require an intervention from a vet later on if you don’t keep up your cleaning routine. There are other products you can try to keep your pet’s teeth clean, including dental chews and plaque supplements that can be added to their food. You can find some great techniques for brushing your dog’s teeth here:
9. Teach safety cues
Keeping your dog safe from a young age is extremely important. A dog that doesn’t know safety cues can end up in some dangerous situations, such as running into the road. Some basic safety cues to teach your dog include sit, leave it, drop it, and come – all of which can be used at home and when you’re out to help prevent dangerous situations.
From teaching them not to cross the threshold of your home without permission, to returning to you while on a walk, you’ll want to introduce these training commands from a young age so that your dog responds correctly each time.
10. Teach table manners
A dog that begs and whines for your food can be a nuisance in the house. It can also cause a lot of irritation and embarrassment when you’re out, or you have guests over. Teaching your dog table manners should help them stay away when you’re eating and stop them begging for human food.
Some of the things you can do to teach table manners include feeding them at the same time you sit down to eat, and separating them when you’re eating. This is another behavior you’ll want to introduce early on, making them much easier to cope with at home – especially if you have young children who are prone to dropping food on the floor!
11. Be patient
Training your dog requires patience – it won’t all come easily. The important thing is not to give up and to be persistent with your training. A couple of short training sessions each day can help your pet learn different things over time, and it can also give them some much-needed stimulation. It’s also a great time to bond with your pet.
12. Socialize them
Socializing your pet from a young age can be very beneficial for their development. Not only will it make them less anxious and fearful, but they will learn how to be calm in different situations. Explore with them as much as possible and consider taking them to puppy classes so they can interact with dogs of different sizes and learn different social behaviors. If your puppy develops issues that make it difficult for them to be around other animals and people, consider hiring a behaviorist to help you manage this.
13. Keep them busy
They say a tired dog is a happy dog, and that is true in many ways. Giving your dogs plenty of physical and mental stimulation will stop them from becoming bored, avoiding many nuisance behaviors around the home. Take time to walk your dog, play games with them, and give them interactive toys and treats that will be sure to hold their attention, and leave them tired out for that all-important nap time.
14. Embrace walking, in all weather
If you’re going to get a dog, you need to be prepared to walk it – in all weather. For most dogs, a walk is the highlight of their day, so you should make an effort to walk your dog as much as they need. Kit you and your dog out with appropriate weather wear so you can both enjoy walks in any weather. It’s a fantastic way to keep your dog healthy – but it will also be beneficial for your health and wellbeing.
15. Don’t be afraid to seek help where needed
Finally, remember that raising a dog can come with challenges, and if you need help, you should seek it. There are a lot of great places to get advice, including your vet, a dog trainer, and even online forums. Tackling concerns early on can help you manage them easier, ensuring you do what’s best for your pet.
Raising a happy and well-behaved dog takes time, but it is worth it when you and your dog finally settle into a routine. Be persistent and patient with your training and you’ll end up with a dog that is a joy to have around, who will give you plenty of love in return too.