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How To Adopt a New Dog

How To Adopt a New Dog

If you want to welcome a dog into your life, adoption is a rewarding way to find your canine companion. 

Roughly 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year in the United States and only about half of those pups are adopted. If you want to adopt a new dog, you’ll not only better your own life, you’ll also be doing something outstanding for a pup in need -- giving him a loving home. 

Although dog adoption might not be the top choice of everyone who is looking for a new dog, it can be one of the most rewarding.  There are many pups that end up in shelters due to overpopulation, breed prejudices, or a number of other reasons. All of these dogs are hoping for a forever home, but is adoption for you?

black dog being adopted

How Do You Adopt a Dog?

The overall process of adopting a new dog is fairly simple; you search for a pup that is a good fit, the shelter checks out your references, and you take your new furry friend home. Okay, so there are a bit more details involved, but basically, it’s pretty easy. Where it gets a little tougher is if you are looking for a specific type of dog.

If you have certain requirements in mind for your new pup, then you might need to be willing to either wait longer or go farther. The dog you’re looking for could be in a shelter 100 miles away, so are you willing to go the distance? If you aren’t in a rush to bring home a new pup, you can submit your criteria to certain shelters and they can alert you when a dog that matches your wish list becomes available. However, many people visit a shelter and see if they have a connection to any of the available dogs; sometimes, it’s love at first sight.

Where Do You Start When Adopting a Dog?

Unless you have a specific organization in mind, a good starting point is your local animal shelters. You can also look at local rescues, especially if you are looking for a particular breed since there are several breed-specific rescues that work with finding pups their forever homes. Another great resource is petfinder.com, which can help you narrow down your search based on a variety of criteria.

No matter where you decide to adopt a new dog, make sure to do a thorough check of the facility itself. For example, is it clean? Are the animals healthy? Does the organization seem reputable? If you think the answer to any of these questions is no, then move on to another option, but first, you might want to consider reporting the facility to the proper authorities. 

What Kind of Dog Should You Adopt?

The answer to this question is of course a personal choice, but it depends on a variety of factors. Before you start your search, it’s helpful to have a basic idea of what kind of dog you are looking for, at least in terms of things like size and age. You don’t want to end up falling in love with a dog that you won’t be able to adopt. In other words, your condo only allows small dogs, yet you become smitten with a Great Dane. 

If you are open to any dog, that’s great, but keep in mind some of the logistics of your decision. For example, a dog that has special needs or medical issues will require a bit more of your budget, where a puppy needs a lot of attention and special considerations like potty training and basic obedience instruction. Therefore, consider your financial situation, how often you have to be away from home, and your current lifestyle and schedule when you are making your list of potential canine pals. 

In addition to choosing between a puppy or an older dog, size is also an important point. You might prefer large breeds, or you might need to find a dog that won’t get bigger than 15 pounds because of your particular living arrangement, such as a small apartment. Basically, know the answers to these types of questions before you start your search, and then it’s up to you to see how much your heart or your head factors into your final choice. 

What Does It Cost To Adopt a Dog?

The price to adopt a dog varies from shelter to shelter, and it can be anywhere from free to hundreds of dollars. Often, when you do pay an adoption fee it is to cover things like vaccinations, spaying or neutering, and other odds and ends, as well as a donation toward the shelter. Some places even have special “name your price” days where you can decide how much you will pay when you adopt your pup. Of course, there are also the costs that go along with actually owning a dog, so even if the adoption itself is free, remember that you’ll still be spending money on your pooch.

What Do You Need To Adopt a Dog?

Besides any possible adoption fee, the shelter will usually require references from you. You will fill out some basic personal info and in many cases will be expected to provide character references. The shelter might also conduct an interview to get a sense of your reliability and ability to care for an animal, and quite a few places have started running background checks on potential adopters. If you already own animals, the shelter will also usually talk to your vet to assess your skills as a pet owner. Depending on how stringent the shelter’s adoption process is, you might be able to take your new dog home that day, or you might have to wait a few days.

dog behind cage being adopted

What To Ask Before Adopting a Dog

You might know what dog you want in an instant or it might take you several searches, but remember, you don’t have to choose the first dog that you see. Adopting a new dog is a huge decision, and it is not one that should be taken lightly. Although most shelters have a certain length of time, usually a few weeks, in which you can return the animal to the shelter if things don’t work out, this can be an upsetting situation for everyone, especially the dog. It can take a new dog anywhere from weeks to months, and even over a year, to fully adjust to his new home, so make sure you are prepared to be patient and work with your new furry friend.

In order to avoid making a rash decision, or ultimately having to bring your dog back to the shelter, ask yourself these questions first (and be honest with all of your answers):

  • What are the restrictions, if any, concerning dogs where you live? 
  • Do you want an older dog or a puppy? Do you have the time and attention that a new puppy requires? 
  • Do you already own pets? If so, you need to find a dog that is good with other animals.
  • Do you have kids? If so, make sure the dog you adopt has a good track record of being good with children.
  • How much do you have in your budget to put toward a new dog?
  • Does your current lifestyle make it feasible for you to have a dog and give it the appropriate amount of attention?

When you find a potential pup to adopt, in addition to considering the above answers, also ask these more specific questions:

  • Is this dog good with strangers, kids, or other animals?
  • How much food does this dog eat?
  • How much exercise does this dog need every day?
  • Does this dog have any special needs or medical conditions? Does he take any medication?
  • How much grooming and maintenance does this dog require?
  • How and when did the dog come to the shelter?
  • Is there anything important you should know about this dog’s history? (He was abandoned, abused, etc.)
  • Is this dog current on all of his shots? Has he had heartworm prevention?
  • Is the dog spayed/neutered, or will he be?
  • If the dog is still a puppy, how big will he get when fully grown?
  • How old is the dog? What breed is it, or what mix?

If you have any unique concerns or questions, make sure to ask them all before making the final choice to adopt a dog. Adopting a new pup is super exciting, and once you meet that dog that melts your heart, it can be hard to resist taking him home with you as soon as possible. However, being patient and doing your homework makes it more likely that you find the perfect pooch for you.

When you’re ready to add a dog into the mix, it can be a wild ride, but it’s also one of the most incredible experiences that you can have. Adopting a dog is a great way to help provide a loving animal with a wonderful home while enriching your own life; just make sure you don’t rush into it. For more great resources and advice on how to take care of your pets, make sure to check out the rest of our blog! Neater Pets also has fantastic products like the Roly Cannoli and our amazing Neater Feeder, so you can start gathering all of the supplies that you need for your new addition!
  • Fernando Becattini
How To Foster a Dog

How To Foster a Dog

If you love to help animals but aren’t quite sure about adopting a permanent pet, fostering can be a great way to help dogs and your family.

Fostering a dog is an incredible way to help numerous pups, and it can be extremely rewarding. It’s also not for the faint-of-heart, requiring quite a bit of dedication, time, energy, and of course, having to say goodbye to all of the animals that you’ve come to love once you find them their forever homes. With almost 670,000 dogs being euthanized in shelters each year mainly due to overpopulation, fostering becomes even more critical to saving lives. Do you think you might want to join the ranks of dog foster parents? Here’s what you need to know!

family that has fostered a dog

How Do You Foster a Dog?

Start Your Foster Search

Before you can foster a dog, you need to get acquainted with an animal rescue that is looking for fosters. A great starting point is petfinder.com, a wonderful resource that can help you locate rescue organizations near you. If you're willing to extend past your local area, you can also look into rescues that have personal meaning to you, such as certain breed-specific rescues or organizations that specialize in senior dogs or dogs with special needs.  

Contact Rescues and Apply 

Once you've nailed down a rescue or two that interests you, the next step is to contact the rescue, introduce yourself, and request a fostering application. Review the application carefully and make sure you're fully aware of all that is expected of you if you are selected as a foster. 

Provide References To the Rescues

The rescue will also want to see your references and they may perform a background check. If you already own a pet, the rescue will also most likely want to speak with the veterinary clinic that takes care of your animals. 

 white foster dog

Questions To Ask Before You Foster a Dog

Before you decide to be a dog foster, it’s important that you ask a lot of questions, both of the rescue and of yourself. You don’t want to decide you aren’t up to the task after you accept a foster dog into your life.

Here are the questions to ask the rescue before you accept a foster dog:

  • Does this dog have any special needs, medical issues, or require certain medications?
  • Who is responsible for the costs of vet bills, grooming, and other dog supplies, like food bowls, leashes, toys, and other doggy essentials?
  • Is the dog already chipped, and if not, are you required to get the dog micro-chipped?
  • Do you have to have an enclosed yard in order to foster a dog?
  • How many adoption events are you required to attend? What other responsibilities are expected when it comes to finding the dog his forever home? For example, setting appointments with potential adopters, attending meetings at the rescue, and so on.
  • Is the dog good with children and other animals? How does he act with strangers?
  • Does the dog require that someone be with him most of the day?
  • What is the dog’s history, including shot and medical records, where is he from, and was he ever abused or abandoned? Plus, any other questions that can lend some insight into the dog’s personality and behavior are always good to ask.
  • Are you expected to train the dog?

Some additional logistical questions to ask before deciding to foster are:

  • Are there any breed restrictions where you live?
  • Do you have to add the dog to your homeowner’s insurance policy?
  • Does your homeowner’s insurance policy not allow certain breeds of dogs?
  • If you live in an apartment, does it accept dogs, and if so, what are the rules and restrictions?
  • Is everyone in the household on board with your decision?
  • If you are expected to cover some or all of the costs of fostering, can your budget handle it?
  • Does your schedule provide you with enough time to adequately care for a dog? This could make a huge difference between fostering a puppy or an older dog.
  • Is your home equipped to welcome a dog, or are you prepared to make any necessary changes to ensure your home is a safe place for the pup and everyone else?

If you are still willing and able to foster a dog after answering all of these questions, then move forward with the application process and get ready to welcome a pup in need into your home and into your life. 

fostered mix breed dog

What Does It Mean To Foster a Dog?

Your main responsibility as a dog foster is to make sure the pup receives all of his age-appropriate vaccinations, has regular veterinarian well-visits and health checks, and that the dog is properly fed and cared for. It is also essential to provide the dog with a lot of positive attention, love, and necessary training because your ultimate goal is to prepare your foster for adoption. Depending on the dog, this could mean varying degrees of time and effort on your part, so be prepared to do whatever it takes. You might take in a dog that is already well-trained, or you may end up with a pooch that hasn’t even been potty trained yet. It’s important to know these types of things ahead of time so that you can properly prepare yourself and your home for what lies ahead (like a lot of puddles on your floor; get the cleaner ready)!

Since the biggest and most critical part of fostering is finding the pup his forever home, you will also need to take your foster to certain adoption events and work with him on any areas that might be standing in the way of him getting adopted. For example, he might need more socialization or training, have issues with separation anxiety, or he might have a medical condition that needs extra attention. 

Dog fostering is a fantastic way to help animals in need of loving homes, as well as a way to free up space in shelters for more dogs and cats. Plus, bringing a pup into your life can have many positive benefits for you and your family as you work together to care for these amazing animals.

If fostering a dog is something you feel you are truly meant to do, then it can be a very rewarding experience. If you’re looking for more great insights into pet ownership, check out the rest of our blog! Whether you already have a faithful furry friend, or you’re thinking about adding one to the family, we have the answers to your questions!
  • Fernando Becattini
How To Train Your Dog To Come To You

How To Train Your Dog To Come To You

Training your dog to come to you when you call can make a big difference when it comes to his safety

Training your pup is a great way to bond and build your relationship with each other, but if you start the process without knowing how to do it properly, it can lead to a lot of frustration. Besides teaching your dog appropriate behaviors and helping him be an overall happier pooch, training is also essential when it comes to keeping your dog safe. One of the biggest commands that can make all the difference between potentially dangerous situations ending happily or not-so-pleasantly is the “come” command. 

 brown dog learning to stay

Why Is It Important for Your Dog To Come When You Call?

You don’t need to teach your dog a bunch of fancy tricks for him to be a well-mannered pooch, but there are several basic commands like “sit” and “stay” that are absolute musts. Another need-to-know behavior your dog needs to learn is to come to you when you call him. When your pup can successfully come to you, no matter what the situation, you automatically decrease his risk of getting injured, lost, or into trouble. For example, if you see your dog wandering close to a street, you can immediately call him back to you, or if your pup gets out of the backyard, you can call for him to return. 

Training your dog to come not only helps keep him safe, but it can also ensure the safety of others. For example, if your pup feels threatened by a stranger and starts to advance on that person, you can call your dog back to your side; or if you see your pup about to enter an area where dogs are not allowed, you can call for him to return before he gets into any trouble.

white dog sitting

Steps To Train Your Dog To Come

Before starting any training program with your dog, it’s important to be prepared. You don’t want to stop halfway through a session because you realize you forgot something. Gather supplies like treats to use for rewards, a clicker if you opt to use clicker training, a leash, and collar, and for the “come” command especially, a treat or toy that your pup can absolutely not resist!

When you present commands to your pup, usually you start with a visual signal, then you introduce a verbal cue. With the “come” command, you’ll start with a vocal cue right from the start and include his name. How quickly your dog picks up on the command depends on your pooch and several factors including whether he’s a puppy or an older dog, his activity level, any established habits, and his breed.

 

Here’s a closer look at things to remember when you train your dog to come to you:

Use an Energetic Voice and Posture

Ultimately, you want your pup to come, so if you sound mad, stern, or bored, well, none of these tones of voice are going to encourage your dog to come near you. Keep your voice positive and upbeat at all times, making it sound like you are about to do something really exciting to entice your pooch to come your way. Crouch down and wave your arms, and basically, make it look like you are ready to play.

 

Have a Reward Your Dog Cannot Resist

Positive reinforcement is very effective when it comes to training your dog. Since the “come” command is super important in regards to your pup’s safety, you want the reward for this behavior to be something irresistible. Choose an item or treat that your dog absolutely loves; it’s a plus if it is something that can help get his attention, like a squeaky toy. Whenever your dog reaches you after you give him the “come” command, reward him immediately, and praise him profusely. 

 

Move Away from Your Pup

First off, if you are in your yard, you might choose to work off-leash (or you might opt to begin your sessions on a leash until your dog is coming more regularly). However, if you are in a park or public space, make sure to have a long leash on your pup. Dogs love to chase, so if you move away from your pup as you say his name and deliver the “come” command, he is more likely to follow you and move toward you. 

 

Don’t Chase Your Dog

Likewise, since pups love a good chase, if your dog decides to run away from you, don’t chase him. This will only make him want to keep going in the opposite direction because he thinks you are playing with him. Instead, say his name in an enthusiastic voice and move away from him, so that he wants to chase after you. Make sure he sees his reward so he is encouraged to keep moving in your direction. 

 

Increase the Distance

When you first start teaching the “come” command, start with a small distance between you and your pup. Eventually, as he gets more consistent with his response, increase the space between you and your dog until he is coming to you when you call from a far distance.

 

Add in the Sit Command

As your pup continues to successfully come to you when you call him, before you reward him, add in the “sit” command when he reaches you. This will help him understand to stay put instead of running off again. 

 

Add in Distractions

Every command that you teach your dog needs to hold up against the distractions of everyday life, so when your dog gets good with a command, it’s time to do what is called proofing the behavior. This is basically adding in distractions, one thing at a time so that your pup responds to you no matter what is happening around him.

corgi learning to stay

Tips for Successful Dog Training

Follow these tips to get the most out of your dog training sessions:

  • Remain positive and keep an upbeat tone and attitude.
  • When you try to teach your dog to come, always carry treats with you. Whenever your pup starts to come to you, deliver the verbal command, and reward him with a treat. Marking the behavior like this can help your pup start to associate the verbal command with the desired action. 
  • Set clear boundaries for your pup as soon as he joins the family, and start training right away. 
  • Follow through with your pup and always be consistent.
  • Maintain a set schedule with your dog.
  • Be prepared.
  • Help your dog stay focused during training sessions by making sure he gets proper stimulation and ample opportunities to exercise. This includes when you are not at home, so provide your pup with an engaging, interactive toy like the Rolly Cannoli.
Deciding to train your dog yourself has a lot of benefits, but sometimes it can be tough, so if you need some extra help talk with your vet for suggestions and recommendations of potential group training classes. Group classes are a great way to still work with your pet while getting advice and guidance from an expert. You can also look on the website for the Association of Professional Dog Trainers to look for pros in your area, or you can download certain dog apps that can provide you with on-the-go training advice at your fingertips. To learn more about training your dog and to find other helpful resources, check out the rest of our blog! At Neater Pets, we’re all about providing you with the information you need to do the very best for your furry friends!
  • Fernando Becattini
How To Train Your Dog To Stay

How To Train Your Dog To Stay

Training your dog is a great way to bond and build trust, and teaching your dog to stay keeps him safe

When you bring a dog into your life, you also welcome a lot of responsibility, and training your dog is a big part of dog ownership. Of course, training your pup doesn’t mean you have to teach him all kinds of fancy tricks, but the basic commands are always essential for any dog to learn in order to be well-mannered and stay safe. A command that can really make a big difference in your dog’s overall behavior is “stay.”

 

Why Is It Important for Your Dog To Learn How To Stay?

The “stay” command comes in handy in a number of different situations and it can ultimately mean all the difference in terms of your dog’s safety. For example, when you open your front door, if your pup knows how to stay then he will resist bolting out into a busy street.  The “stay” command is also beneficial when it comes to interacting with other dogs and people. If your pooch knows how to stay, he instantly becomes a lot less intimidating to other pups, and becomes more pleasant for people to be around -- not everyone wants a dog jumping all over the place, even if he is just excited. 

 puggle staying in grass

Steps To Train Your Dog To Stay

First, make sure your dog is able to consistently perform the “sit” command before you teach him anything else. Being able to sit is the foundation for many other commands and will make it easier to teach your pup how to stay. 

 

Make sure to have all of your tools ready to go, like treats that you will use for rewards, and a clicker if you decide to use clicker training. Basically, no matter what command you are presenting to your pup, you are going to start by using a hand signal and eventually work in the verbal cue. The key essential factor in training your dog to stay is to gradually increase the time increments. 

 

Here’s a closer look at each of the steps to train your dog to stay:

Have Your Dog Sit

First, give your dog the command to sit. Again, if you have not yet taught your pup to sit, then concentrate on working with him on that command before moving on to any others. 

 

Give the Hand Signal 

Hold your hand up, palm facing toward your dog as if you’re telling him to stop. This will be the hand signal for the “stay” command. Visual signals are important tools for dog training because they have been shown to be more exciting for a dog, therefore capturing his attention more easily. Plus, it is always a good idea to have both a verbal and a non-verbal cue for your pup, since you never know what type of situation you will be in when you have to give your dog a command.

 

Reward and Praise

Once your dog remains in a seated position for even just one second, immediately reward him and praise him, and give him a treat. The idea is to catch the desired behavior as soon as it happens so your dog starts to associate the right behavior with the command. Ensure that your voice maintains a positive tone and keep your energy level upbeat but calm. Remember, your dog can sense your emotions and feelings, so don’t get stressed out or frustrated if your pup isn’t getting it at first. If your dog starts to stand before you can reward him, then reset and try again. Avoid harsh words or punishing your dog; stick with positive reinforcement. Eventually, when it comes time to reward your dog, shift to only using verbal praise and friendly pats.

Increase the Time Your Pup Stays

Once your pup can stay for one second, increase the amount of time to five seconds. After your dog is successful with the new amount of time, bump it up again to 10 seconds, then 15 seconds; gradually increase the amount of time your pup can stay until you reach 30 seconds. 

 

Add in the Verbal Cue 

Now it’s time to link the verbal command to the action. Once your pal can stay put for 30 seconds, firmly speak your pup’s name followed by the word “stay” at the beginning of the command (when you first give the hand signal). Sometimes, you and your pup will be in a situation where he might not be within your line of sight for some reason, or you might not be able to perform the hand signal, so teaching him to respond to verbal cues is very important. Continue this process with your dog, slowly phasing out the hand signal so that your pup only responds to the verbal cue.

 

Increase the Distance Between You and Your Pup

Practice with your dog until he is very consistent with staying for 30 seconds and only responding to the verbal command. Then, start to increase the distance between you and your dog. For example, you might begin right in front of him at first, but then slowly step a few feet away, then a few more, until you are across the room from your pup. You can also try telling your dog to stay and then step out of the room for a few seconds and then back in; you will eventually want to add a “release” command that lets your dog know he is able to exit the stay position. 

To teach your dog to release, simply say “release” and give your pup a signal (a swift hand motion that says “come on”), and reward him as soon as he moves.

 

Add in Distractions

No matter what trick or command you teach your pup, it’s always important to establish a strong and consistent performance of the behavior. You need to feel confident that your pup will perform at his best in public when other things are happening around him, so build distractions into your training. The distractions should represent activities that would likely occur when you are out and about with your pup, like another person walking a dog, people jogging or riding bikes, a ball or a frisbee being tossed, or another animal nearby. This practice is known as proofing the behavior.

Once your dog is performing the “stay” command successfully despite any distractions, you can feel pretty certain that he has a very good understanding of the behavior. Keep practicing, and maintain short training sessions so your dog remains focused; about 5 to 10 minutes several times a week works best. Then, make sure to regularly practice the command to keep it fresh for your pup.

black german shepard staying

Tips for Successful Dog Training

Follow these tips to get the most out of your dog training sessions:

  • Stay positive and end each session with a win.
  • Always have treats on hand when you’re first starting to teach a behavior. Then, whenever your pup performs the desired action, even if it was not intentional, immediately give the command and reward him so he can start associating the behavior with the command.
  • Begin training your dog as soon as he joins your family and set clear boundaries and expectations from the start. 
  • Stay consistent!
  • Stick to a schedule for eating, training, play, and sleep, and make sure potty training is solid.
  • Always be prepared before you begin and have the necessary tools such as treats, leash and collar, a clicker if you want to use one, and any other necessary items. 
  • Ensure your pup has ample opportunities to play and exercise and that he gets enough stimulation from things like his toys and other activities so that he is focused during training sessions. You can get him a toy like the Rolly Cannoli to keep him engaged and entertained when you are not at home.

 

Training is a critical component of raising a happy and healthy dog, especially when it comes to safety. If you find that you need a little extra help, talk with your vet about some different training methods or ask for trainer recommendations. You can also take a peek at the Association of Professional Dog Trainers website if you want to go the route of working with a professional, or check out a dog app like Puppr for some helpful training tips. To learn more about training your dog and to find other helpful resources, check out the rest of our blog!

  • Fernando Becattini
How To Train Your Dog To Lie Down

How To Train Your Dog To Lie Down

A properly trained dog is a happier and healthier pooch; plus he’s much more pleasant to be around

If you have a dog, then there should be no question about whether or not to train him. A dog that is well-trained is more likely to be happier and safer than an untrained canine. You don’t have to teach your dog to roll over or shake your hand, or other fun tricks, but you should consider teaching him the basics like “sit,” “stay,” “come,” and “lie down,” because these are considered essential behaviors to help your dog be well-mannered, calm, and a good companion.

 

Why Should You Train Your Dog To Lie Down?

If you’re out with your pup, teaching him how to “lie down,” or “settle,” is a great tool to help him feel at ease and remain calm. When you give him this command, it should convey to him that everything is okay and he can take it easy. There is no need for him to stay on high-alert or be anxious; basically, you’re telling him it’s okay to relax. 

labrador retriever lying down

Steps To Train Your Dog To Lie Down

First, it’s important to teach your dog the “sit” command and make sure he can perform it consistently because sitting is the foundation for many other commands.  

Have all of your tools prepared ahead of time, such as treats to use as rewards, a collar and leash if needed, and a clicker if you will be implementing clicker training. You’ll start by teaching your dog to “lie down” using a visual signal and eventually work your way up to teaching him a verbal cue for the behavior.  

 

Here’s a closer look at each of the steps to train your dog to lie down: 

Have Your Dog Sit

The very first step is to have your dog perform the “sit” command. Once he is sitting, then you will give the signal to “lie down.”

Get Your Dog’s Attention with a Treat

Use a treat to help teach your pup the hand signal for “lie down.” Hold a treat directly in front of your pup’s nose and make sure you have her full attention.

Give the Hand Signal 

Once your pup is focused on the treat, use a slow and steady motion to move the treat toward the floor. Your pup should follow the treat with her nose, causing her head to lower toward the ground. As your dog’s head gets closer to the ground, start to slowly pull the treat toward you so your pup starts to extend her whole body forward, eventually landing in a lying down position. The motion you perform becomes the hand signal for the command. It starts with your hand up in front of your pup, then in one motion, unbend your elbow to move your hand down toward your thigh. 

Reward and Praise

As soon as your dog’s chest touches the floor, immediately give her a treat and shower her with praise so she understands what the desired behavior is. Positive reinforcement is a very effective way to teach your dog a variety of behaviors. If your pup starts to get up or lifts her bottom before she lies down, don’t punish her or get frustrated, simply stop, restart, and try again. 

 mix breed dog lying down

Add in the Verbal Cue 

Once your pooch is consistently performing the “lie down” command when given the hand signal, start to add in the verbal cue. When you first show your pup the treat, firmly say her name followed by “lie down,” and proceed with the taught motion. Reward successes with praise and a treat, and continue to practice this way, eventually removing the hand signal from the process so your pup can consistently lie down from the verbal cue alone. Giving your dog both hand signals as well as verbal commands is very beneficial since you never know what sort of situation you might find yourself in with your pup. Your dog might not always be able to see you, or you might not be in a position where you can speak; having both methods in place is a double assurance that your pup will correctly perform the desired behavior on cue.

 

Add a Release Command

Okay, so your dog can lie down, but then what? How does she know when to get up? A release command comes in handy with behaviors like “stay” and “lie down.” It simply lets your pup know when it’s okay to get up and get on the move. You can teach your dog this behavior just as you would present other commands, using a hand signal and verbal cue. Say “release” and perform a swift hand motion, as if you are signaling “follow me,” and reward your dog as soon as she moves.

 

Add in Distractions

Performing behaviors on cue during a training session is one thing, but doing it in real life is another story. In real life, things happen; other dogs run by, people approach you to strike up a conversation, someone whizzes by on a bike, and a number of other distractions that can easily break your pup’s focus. Therefore, once your dog understands the “lie down” command, it’s important to do what is known as proofing the behavior. Basically, you’re going to purposely add in distractions, one at a time, to help your dog perform the requested commands despite any other tempting events that might be happening around her.

Keep in mind that practice makes perfect! Even when your dog can “lie down” on cue all of the time, it’s important to regularly give her the command so it can stay fresh in her mind. You don’t need to drill it constantly, initial training sessions to teach a command should be kept short and sweet to maintain your pup’s focus; think 5 to 10 minutes a few times a week. Then, you can just make sure to regularly give her the command during your daily activities and she’ll be a pro. 

border collie lying down

Tips for Successful Dog Training

Follow these tips to get the most out of your dog training sessions:

  • Keep things positive, including your tone of voice and attitude.
  • If your pup is struggling to associate the command with the desired behavior, try to catch her in the act. Keep treats on hand, and when your pup performs the behavior, immediately say the command out loud and reward her. 
  • Don’t wait to train your dog; start working with her as soon as she becomes a member of your family, and be clear with rules and expectations from the beginning.
  • Consistency is super important! Follow through!
  • Maintain a schedule for training, eating, play, and sleep, and stick to it! 
  • Give your pup multiple opportunities throughout the day to exercise and participate in stimulating activities. This will ensure that she remains focused during her training sessions. When you aren’t home, provide your pup with an interactive toy like the Rolly Cannoli to keep her properly engaged.
Training your dog is key to having a well-behaved, safe, and happy pup. When you choose to train your dog yourself, it can become a fantastic way to bond with your canine companion. If you have questions or concerns, you can always consult with your vet for advice or recommendations. However, if you feel you need a pro, you can look into a group training class where you can work with your pup under the watchful eye of an expert, or you can hire a private trainer. A good place to start if you’re looking for a professional is the website of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers. There are also several dog apps that can offer training tips, like Puppr or iClicker if you want to learn more about clicker training. You can also find a wealth of information about how to best care for your best friend by checking out the rest of our blog!
  • Fernando Becattini
How To Train Your Dog To Sit

How To Train Your Dog To Sit

Training your dog can be a great bonding opportunity, and you should start with teaching your pup to sit

Training your dog is an essential responsibility when you own a canine companion. Making sure your pup can follow commands and exhibit desired behavior not only makes him a more pleasurable pal, but it also helps keep your pooch safe and sound. You don’t have to teach your dog an endless repertoire of tricks, but you should concentrate on basic commands. One of the most important commands for your pup to learn is “sit.”

 

Why Start with the “Sit” Command?

The “sit” command lays the groundwork for many other commands like “stay” and “lie down.” Therefore, it’s important for you pooch to know how to sit and perform the command consistently to ensure the success of future training sessions. Plus, teaching your dog to sit can immediately help him remain calm in certain situations, as well as quickly conquer unacceptable behavior like jumping up on other people or onto furniture. 

 french bulldog sitting

Steps To Train Your Dog To Sit

In a nutshell, to train your dog to sit, have your tools at the ready, which is basically a lot of treats and praise, and a clicker if you plan to use clicker training. When you teach your pup various commands, you will assign a hand signal along with the command. 

 

Hold a treat with your fingers, palm facing up, in front of your dog’s nose so he sees it. Then, slowly move your hand over your pup’s head, toward his tail, and he should gradually and naturally move into a sitting position. As soon as your pup’s bottom touches the ground (make sure your pup isn’t just hovering above the floor), shower him with praise and a treat. 

 

This hand movement becomes the signal for your dog to sit, and once he is consistent, start to give him the signal and only reward him with praise, eventually adding in the verbal command to “sit.” Gradually, you can work in distractions to make things more challenging (as well as more like real life) to ensure that your dog can perform a solid sit response.

 fluffy dog sitting in snow

Here’s a closer look at each of the steps to train your dog to sit:

 

Get Your Dog’s Attention with a Treat

It’s important to get your dog’s complete focus before attempting to train him to do any command. Select a tasty, desirable treat that will really get your dog’s attention and make sure he sees it before you start to work with him. With a treat between your thumb and forefinger, hold it directly in front of your pup, right above his nose. Make sure to not hold it too high, otherwise, your pooch might be tempted to jump up for it. 

 

Give the Hand Signal 

The motion you use to coax your dog to sit will also become the hand signal you use to give the "sit" command. Visual signals have been shown to be very effective tools for teaching dogs different behaviors, and visual cues are critical at those moments when your pet can't hear you. 

While holding the treat in front of your pup's nose, slowly move it back over your dog's head. Keep the treat close to your dog's head as you move the treat toward his ears. Your pup should follow the treat with his eyes and head, and may even lift his nose toward it, but this motion will eventually cause your pup to land in a sitting position. 

 

Reward and Praise

Once your dog’s bottom touches the ground, immediately respond with positive praise and the treat. Make sure that the reward is done as soon as the desired behavior is performed to ensure your pup is clear on what is expected of her. Keep your tone of voice positive and upbeat, as well, you never want to sound anxious or stressed as this will only rub off on your dog. Positive reinforcement is very effective when it comes to training your dog. Eventually, work your way up to only rewarding with verbal praise and petting.

 

Add in the Verbal Cue 

Once your pup has success sitting with the hand signal, add in the verbal cue. The idea is to reach a point where your pup can respond to the verbal cue by itself. After all, just like your pup might not always be able to hear you, there will likely be more times where he cannot see you when you need him to perform a certain behavior. To add in the verbal command, do everything that you have been doing up until this point and simply say your dog’s name, followed by “sit,” at the beginning of the motion (when you first hold the treat in front of your pet’s nose). Continue to do this with your dog, and little by little, phase out the motion until your pup is responding only to your verbal cue.

 

Add in Distractions

Now that your dog can sit, you need to make sure he will be able to do it reliably, no matter what might be going on around him. Therefore it’s time to do what is called proofing the behavior, which basically means you need to add in distractions. You can have a friend walk by with another dog, or another family member can toss a ball, you get the idea; just make sure to only add in one distraction at a time, and choose very desirable rewards for your pet during this phase. Continue to work with your pup until he follows your command despite what tempting activities might be at play around him.

 

Practice Makes Perfect 

Like anything that you want to do well, the more you do it, the better you will become. When you first begin your training sessions, your dog might be a little active and distracted. However, if you start with small, frequent sessions and simply increase the time slowly, your pup will have an easier time staying focused and can handle the longer sessions. Still, a training session should only last about 5 to 10 minutes at a time, for several lessons throughout the week. Once your dog is sitting consistently, make sure to continue to review the command with him as needed.

 well-trained black dog

Tips for Successful Dog Training

No matter what command you are teaching your pup, when you are training your dog, keep these tips in mind to get the most out of your experience:

  • Keep things positive. Don’t force your dog into a sitting position or turn to punishment, and always end on a high note. 
  • If you’re having a hard time getting your pup to do a command, carry treats around with you, and mark the behavior. In other words, whenever your dog sits, quickly say “sit,” and reward your pup. 
  • Start training your dog as early in your relationship as you can; as soon as you get your pup is the best time to begin.
  • Set expectations and rules for behavior with your pup from the very beginning and stick to them. Consistency is very important. 
  • Don’t overlook potty training. 
  • Maintain a schedule with your dog; this goes for training, eating, exercise, and rest.
  • Be prepared before you start training your pup; make sure you have rewards and treats, a clicker if you plan to use one, a leash and harness when required, and any other supplies that you may need. 
  • Keep your pup adequately stimulated through a variety of activities and engaging toys like the Rolly Cannoli, and provide him with ample opportunities for exercise. This way, when it is time for training, your pup will be less distracted and can focus more easily.

 

Training doesn’t have to be a stressful time for you or your pup. In fact, it can be extremely rewarding, as well as very beneficial for your dog, especially where safety is concerned. If you find that you are struggling, you can consult with your vet, or you might consider hiring a professional trainer; you can check out the Association of Professional Dog Trainers as a starting point if you think you might need a hand. For more helpful tips on training your dog and other great ways to care for your pooch, make sure to check out the rest of our blog!
  • Fernando Becattini