11 Jun When is the Right Time to Start Training a Pet?
Pets require training to fit into our lifestyle. We don’t want them going to the bathroom on our carpets or jumping on people when we walk past on the street.
Most pets can start learning some necessary skills at eight weeks. Younger animals tend to have shorter attention spans, so expect to spend maybe 5-10 minutes per day working on a specific habit. For dogs, this time is perfect for working on stay, sit, or down.
Formal training and obedience work typically waits until a pet reaches six months old. However, critics suggest this approach has limited benefits. Animals learn from every experience during their youth, forming a personality while sorting out the pack order. You could have several weeks of unwanted behaviors turning into habits before you start the training process.
How to Start Training Pets
Most training work begins with a favorite toy or a food lure. The goal is to motivate the animal to perform the desired task. When you offer the reward for the behavior when it happens, the praise reinforces the idea that it should get repeated.
When you pair the command phrase for a behavior with movement corresponding to it with a treat, most animals can learn the meaning of what you want relatively quickly.
Don’t rely on treats alone to reinforce positive behavior. Use plenty of verbal praise and affection when you get the result you want.
If your pet doesn’t obey on the first command, don’t proceed to new behaviors. Animals can learn that several repetitions of a request are still acceptable before obedience is necessary. That outcome could be dangerous if you need a dog or cat to respond in specific ways during an emergency.
Animals Don’t Understand Your Words
Although animals can understand the way we speak, it is through a combination of sounds. Pets learn their name based on the syllables they hear. Calling a dog “Rover” doesn’t create a meaning in canine language.
That means your pet doesn’t understand what the commands are that you request during the first days of training. If you don’t show the animal what each behavior is with the words you say, they’ll never know what you want – and that prevents obedience. Instead of getting angry or abusive in this situation, reinforce what you want.
Say sit. Encourage a dog to sit through physical manipulation. Give them praise once they are in that position with a treat. Then repeat a few times. Eventually, your pet is going to understand the process.
How Much Time Should I Spend on Training?
The first days of training and obedience could be as short as 2-5 minutes. It all depends on the maturity and willingness of your pet. Your patience also plays a role in this process.
As you and your pet get used to the training process, try to get about 15 minutes of work in each day. You don’t need to do it all in a single block. Spacing out the time into three five-minute sessions can sometimes work better.
Keep the training part of your usual routine, even as your pet gets older. It will become a time that you spend together that everyone will appreciate.