Pet Training

Aggressive Cat Behavior
Cat Litterbox Training
Crate Training Dogs
Dog Behavior: Barking
Dog Collars for Training
Dog Obedience Training
Dog Training: The Tether
Dog Training Basics

Tip #85: Aggressive Cat Behavior

Cat snarls

What can you do to stop aggressive behavior amongst your cats? In some cases, cats living together just don't like one another. In this case, there's little you can do to change their behavior. However, if the aggression amongst your cats is sporadic, you may be able to make them friendlier toward one another. Try keeping the cats away from each other and then reintroduce them as if they were getting to know one another from the beginning.

If your cats are males, consider having them neutered. Neutered males are much less likely to fight with other animals. If aggression continues, consult your veterinarian. There are medications that can work in some cases. There are also animal behaviorists who can help your cats overcome their aggression issues.

Tip #86: Cat Litter Box Training

Cat litter

Most cats instinctively know how to use the litter box; they learn from their mothers when they are kittens. However, if you have a very young or orphaned kitten he may not know how to use a litter box. In that case, you'll need to show your cat how to use the litter box.

First, put the kitten in the litter box about five to 15 minutes after he has eaten. Gently show the kitten using his front paws how to push the litter back and forth. When the kitten uses the litter box, praise him and give him a treat right away. Never scold or yell at your cat when he's in the litter box, because he may begin to associate fear with the box and stop using it. Continue training the kitten until he seeks out and uses the litter box on his own.

Tip #87: Crate Training Dogs

Puppy in a crate

Crate training your dog is helpful for transporting him to the veterinarian, taking him on trips, and for controlling him throughout the day. Buy a crate that is big enough for your dog to sit, stand and lie in comfortably. Start by simply placing the crate in a room where you spend a lot of time, such as the family room. Put a soft blanket or pad inside and let the dog investigate the crate. Make sure the door is secure so it doesn't shut on your dog. Leave a toy or a trail of treats leading into to the crate and observe if your dog enters without fear.

After your dog is accustomed to the crate, begin feeding him in or near it. Praise your dog when he goes in the crate and always have a treat ready. Try closing the door while your dog is inside eating. If he whines or cries, do not let him out until he stops or he'll get used to crying inside the crate. Continue leaving your dog inside the crate for longer periods of time until he is comfortable, always giving him a treat while he's inside. Crate training could take days or weeks, but soon your dog will be comfortable in his crate for long periods of time. Some dogs actually prefer going in a crate during the day and sleeping in a crate at night. It provides a quiet, secure, out-of-the-way place for them to nap during the day. 

Tip #88: Dog Behavior: Barking

German shepherd growls

It's perfectly normal for a dog to bark from time to time. Dogs bark to warn of approaching strangers and other dangers, as well as when they are playing and having fun. It's their form of communication. However, continuous barking needs to be addressed before the dog becomes a nuisance to you and your neighbors.

Many dogs who bark consistently are seeking attention because they are lonely or bored. If you have to leave your dog alone all day, leave him toys to play with, rotating them often so he doesn't get bored. Make sure to pay attention to your dog when you are home; schedule in time every day for a walk and playtime. If you cannot control your dog's barking there are bark collars that release a sound or smell that can help control his noisy behavior.

Note: Electric shock bark collars are not recommended by most veterinarians and pet professionals. They should be used as a last resort and only as humanely as possible. When needed, be sure to purchase a collar with an automatic adjustable intensity mode and use it as infrequently as possible.

Tip #89: Dog Collars for Training

Dog walks on a leash

There are several types of dog collars you can use to train your dog. You can generally use a regular collar when you train your dog, as long as it is effective at controlling and signaling your commands to the dog.

A slip collar (sometimes called a choke collar) that tightens as the dog pulls away or ignores your training commands has been used for years. However, most veterinarians and professional dog trainers do not recommend this type of collar because it lends itself to abuse by sharp jerks or choking when the dog pulls.

Gentle leader collars and harnesses are probably the most humane way to teach your dog proper leash behavior when walking. The gentle leader collar slips over the nose. Excessive pressure on the leash moves the head sideways and changes the direction of movement. The gentle leader harness works much the same way. The leash is attached to the harness at the front of the chest. Too much pressure on the leash causes the dog to change direction. Dogs soon learn that if they want to continue to move forward they must not pull on the leash. The gentle harness is also effective for dog command training.

The pinch collar is not recommended because it is easily abused by putting  excessive pressure on the dog’s neck. It pinches the dog when he pulls away on the leash. This type of collar should only be used on large adult dogs very difficult to control. Slip collars, choke chains or pinch collars should never be left on a dog unattended.

Tip #90: Dog Obedience Training

Dog training

All dogs should participate in dog obedience training because it creates a better-behaved dog that is more pleasant to be around. As you’re looking for an obedience school, make sure you choose one that creates an enjoyable atmosphere for you and your dog. Obedience training should be fun -- not a chore. The lessons you and your dog learn should be relatively easy to follow and easy to implement at home.

Dog obedience training should begin with simple commands like "sit” and "stay" and then move on to other harder commands such as "heel." If your dog doesn't get it the first time, don't worry. Each dog learns differently; don't give up on your dog if he's slow, just be patient. Don't forget to reward him when he does a good job. Dog obedience training takes time and effort, but in the end, you'll be rewarded with a dog that is a joy to be around!

Tip #91: Dog Training: The Tether

Dog leash

If your dog has behavior problems, using a tether may be a helpful aid to training him. A tether is a two- to three-foot piece of wire cable coated in heavy plastic with a snap-ring on each end. Secure one end of the tether to a piece of furniture or an eyebolt in the wall and the other end to your dog's collar. The tether allows the dog to be in his usual spot and helps keep him under control.

Place a blanket or pad and toys by your dog to engage and comfort him while he is tethered. When he stays on the mat without whining or barking, praise him and give him a treat. If he cries or barks, walk away and do not come back into the room until your dog stops. As he becomes used to the tether and the area your dog will calm down more quickly and stop exhibiting bad behavior.

You can use a tether to train your dog to not chew on your property, keep him near you if he has separation anxiety, as well as control him if he acts up when you have guests. Remember to never leave your dog tethered when you are away from home.

Tip #92: Dog Training Basics

Dog begs for a treat

Veterinarians highly recommend you take your new pet to puppy kindergarten for socialization with other pets and humans. Professional dog training classes are reasonably priced and well worth the effort to help insure that your pet becomes a good citizen and a joy for others to be around.

Dog training basics help you and your pet communicate. They ensure your dog listens to you when it's important for him to pay attention. The first thing you should do when training your dog is make certain he knows his name. To help reinforce this, use his name whenever you use training commands like "sit" or "stay."

Most trainers recommend teaching the "sit" command first because it is helpful in controlling your dog on and off the leash. Hand signals are the preferred method of teaching a dog to sit and stay. Hold a treat in your hand, let your dog smell it, and then move the treat directly over the dog's head. As your dog backs up to find the treat, he should automatically sit down. Give the dog the treat, praise him, and try again. Soon your dog will understand “sit” and you can move on to more advanced commands.

You may also teach  this command while your dog is on a leash. When your dog is by your side, say "sit," draw up on the leash (pulling your dog's head up), then gently push his backside down into a sitting position. Repeat this several times, rewarding  him each time he successfully obeys your command.

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