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How to Train & Retrain Your Dog | Tips + Tools for Puppies

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Mastering the Art of Dog Training

 By: Tess Marty for (Happy Pets Blog)

Table of Contents:

  • Joy of a New Puppy
  • Positive Reinforcement
  • Treats, CBD, and Training
  • Fear and Desensitization
  • Training Regressive Behaviors
  • Dog Enrichment 
  • Building Your Dog's Confidence
  • Get Started Today 

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Bringing a new pet home is so exciting. From picking out new toys, to breaking the “no pets on the furniture” rule you thought would last longer than a day, everything can seem new and thrilling. But when your pet starts to present challenges you weren’t prepared for, it can cause frustration and stress. There will also be lots of questions when it comes to training, fear, anxiety, and what to expect for new-pet-parents!

In this article, we'll delve into the world of training, emphasizing the effectiveness of positive reinforcement and exploring the synergies between training and the use of natural calming aids for pets.


The Science Behind Positive Reinforcement:

  • Setting training goals for your canine friend should always begin with understanding the science behind effective training methods.
  • Scientific studies consistently show that positive reinforcement is the most successful approach to training. The actual meaning of positive reinforcement is adding something in order to increase a behavior. Treats, toys, or praise, they can be whatever your dog finds motivating. 
  • This method provides encouragement to repeat a behavior.

Many pet parents are unsure when it comes to treating their pet. Some dogs don’t like treats as much as others, but most dogs have some reinforcer that works. Many police dogs are trained with toys—getting to fetch a ball or tug a rope toy when they do the right thing.

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It can feel tricky when your pet isn’t receptive to all treats or doesn’t seem food motivated, but it’s important to play around with flavors and textures. One dog may love the taste of peanut butter, while one only responds to deli sliced turkey. You’ll notice over time what your pet’s hierarchy of treats is, maybe using store-bought training treats is easier.

At-home cues like sit and down, and your Land O’ Lakes cheese for environmental triggers. Your reinforcer has to be better than that chicken bone on the ground! Not only does positive reinforcement create a stronger bond between you and your pet, but it also promotes a happier and healthier learning environment. As you embark on your training journey, consider experimenting to find what your pet responds best to

Training Your Puppy Indoors

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By practicing indoors, slowly, and with extra distance, you can work towards getting your dog to listen in many circumstances. CBD can act as a calming agent, preventing your dog from reaching that over-threshold state so they can listen before reacting. Hemp products can be used to help your pet become more receptive to training and listening to cues before stimuli is presented.

This not only facilitates better learning but also creates a positive association with training sessions and with triggers, making them more enjoyable and less stressful for your pet. By incorporating CBD into your training routine, you can help your dog stay calm and attentive, preventing them from becoming too overwhelmed to understand commands. 

Fear and Desensitization Training:

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  • Addressing fear by desensitization is crucial for dogs that may be anxious or reactive in certain situations.
  • Fear-based behaviors can hinder progress in training and create a stressful environment for both the pet and you. 
  • Many dogs labeled as “aggressive” are simply acting out of fear

Check out the Calm Peanut Butter Soft Chews for an easy calming treat!

    Calming Dog Treats and Training:happy-hounds-calm-training-dog-treats-at-a-pet-store-near-me

    • Explore the using Happy Hounds calming chews for training your pets
    • CBD, or Cannabidiol, is a natural compound derived from hemp plants
    • Its popularity has soared due to its potential to reduce anxiety, inflammation, and your pet's quality of life

    In the context of training, CBD can play a pivotal role in making the learning process smoother. Anxiety and reactivity often hinder a dog's ability to focus on commands and absorb new information. 

    Consider, for example, a dog with a strong prey drive. If they see a squirrel, it may seem like they lose their ability to even hear you. This isn’t the dog’s fault, it is simply because they are too overstimulated to be able to make a decision in the moment.

    The Benefits of CBD for Dog Training

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    Because fear can show up in different forms, like cowering, hiding, snarling, snapping, and barking. Dog Treats made with CBD can be a valuable tool in fear and desensitization training. By using hemp chews to manage overall anxiety, you can gradually expose your dog to stimuli that trigger fear in a controlled and positive way.

    The calming effects of CBD can also aid in creating new, positive associations with previously fear-inducing situations. You’ll want to discover the distance from a trigger that your dog begins to react (ears perked up, tail tucked, tense position, hard stare), and work from there. 

    Remember not to force your dog to “get over it” and close distance as you start noticing less reactions. For instance, if your dog barks at other dogs, find the distance where they notice the other dog but haven’t begun barking, and reward them for any calm behaviors they exhibit.

    Turning Triggers Into Positives

     If the trigger comes too close, your dog may be unable to control themselves, and it’s no use trying to correct the behavior. Take it one step at a time! You’ll likely notice that your dog sees another, then either looks at you or looks away. Reward, and then you can try to close the distance gradually. You can add in a “leave it,” or “ignore” verbal cue as well to remind them for the next time. CBD can help in this training by reducing the intensity of the reaction or the distance in which they begin.

    Remember that consistency is fundamental in any training regimen. Dogs thrive on routine, and regular, short training sessions are often more effective than sporadic, lengthy ones. An anxious dog will respond much better to short sessions than being flooded with triggers. Consistency reinforces good behaviors, helping your dog understand what is expected of them.

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    Re-Training Regressive Behaviors:

    Plenty of pet parents experience the frustration of regression. Regression is when your pet starts exhibiting behaviors you thought they “grew out of” or that have been trained away. Your dog may regress for a multitude of reasons, and you’re not alone. Most pets regress in training in some form during their lives, and it’s important to find the reason why and show patience and forgiveness to your pet while working through it. 

    Training your pet is not, nor will ever be, linear. You’ll experience ups and downs, setbacks and successes, celebrations and confusion. This is all a normal part of pet parenthood. Regression can happen because of outside stimuli like a bad experience with another dog, a medical issue such as inflammation or pain, unrealistic expectations or lack of consistency, or simply developmental stages.

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    Puppies commonly experience a “fear stage” at around 12-14 weeks and again around 6-14 months old. Older dogs go through regression around 1-2 years of age, some even regressing in bathroom habits. You may notice your pup peeing in the house when you were certain they were fully housebroken. Remember during these phases to be empathetic to your pet’s behaviors—it is natural for them.

    After ruling out any medical issues, consider tweaking your training regiment to be more routine and consistent, and don’t be afraid to start from scratch! Plenty of dogs need that extra confidence boost, and it will even strengthen your bond with them. 

    Enrichment Training:

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    • Enrichment is another vital aspect of a well-rounded training program. Dogs benefit from mental stimulation and activities that engage their senses. 

    Many of the behaviors we see as “bad” are really just natural, instinctual behaviors. If your dog tears something up or digs a hole in the yard, they may be lacking outlets for these natural behaviors. There are hundreds of ways to activate your pet’s senses and incorporate their instincts in a non-destructive and positive way.

    From snuffle mats to puzzles, to flirt poles and chew toys. Dogs benefit from a balance of physical and mental exercise. Incorporate activities like obedience training, agility courses, and interactive games into your routine. 

    Incorporating CBD treats into these activities before a training session can help engagement and promote a sense of calm when dealing with potentially frustrating or anxiety-inducing triggers. Enrichment not only provides mental stimulation but also serves as a distraction in stressful situations. 

    Building Confidence through Training:

    woman-with-dog-in-field-building-confidence-in-dog-through-training

    • Anxiety or reactivity in dogs often stems from a lack of confidence.
    • Training plays a pivotal role in building your dog's sense of security
    • As your dog masters commands and successfully navigates different situations, their confidence grows.

    Confidence training is crucial not only with puppies and rescue dogs, but all pets. Positive reinforcement is a huge contributor to confidence-building, because it tells the dog “yes, that behavior is correct, and you’re doing a good job.”

    How to Reward Your Dog's Effectively

     

    Rewarding your dog for things they do right instead of reprimanding them for doing something “wrong” (which remember, could just be an anxiety-induced reaction!) helps your pet to build on good behaviors. CBD can be a supportive companion on this journey with your dog.

     The calming effects of CBD can help your dog face new challenges with a more relaxed demeanor, and can help your dog exhibit positive behaviors that you can reward more quickly. 

    Start Training & Retraining 

    Remember, while your dog reacting to triggers can feel overwhelming or embarrassing, working slowly with them and going at their pace will set you up for a better future. Trainers who expect results immediately are often just suppressing the dog’s fear and will create more fear and anxiety in the future. Suppressing reactivity by force often leads to more intense behavior down the line, or your dog not showing signs of discomfort before acting out. 

    Don’t forget that many pet parents deal with reactivity of some sort, and your dog reacting is probably not as bad to others as it seems to you. Training is a journey between you and your pet. Try your best to not get frustrated, and if you notice that you are, maybe it’s time to call it quits for that session. You can try again later. Take it slow and remember that it will get better.

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    As you set your training goals with your new (or existing!) pet, consider working actively on a well-rounded training program for the both of you. Make sure all family members and pet caregivers are on the same page. By incorporating positive reinforcement, enrichment, calming care, desensitization, and a little bit of patience into your routine, you’re not only enhancing your bonding experience with your dog, but also contributing to their overall well-being.

    Training doesn't have  to be a stressor or just a task—it becomes a shared journey of growth, understanding, and joy between you and your best friend. Here’s to a lifetime of successful training and a happier, healthier bond with your pet!

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