When my toddler would come with me into stores or other people's homes, she occasionally made a scene. She would yell, cry, or even touch things she shouldn't. Instead of feeling embarrassed, I would stop what I was doing, pull her aside and communicate with her that she needed to take a "break" or "time out." I never rewarded the bad behavior by giving in to her tantrum.
It is an embarrassing moment for any new mother, and as a new pet owner, your pet can be just like that toddler. You know it is inappropriate behavior when a human does it, but we don't always recognize that it is inappropriate when our pets do it.
Here are four great tips to help you communicate what you want your pet to do without you, or the pet, getting frustrated.
- Consistency - It is so important to be consistent whenever teaching your pet anything. Don't try to change up the routine at first. Be diligent and keep to one phrase, one time of day, and make sure everyone in the household is doing the same thing. It can be very confusing for your pet for each person in the household to do a different command and mean the same thing. Make sure everyone is on board and have a plan.
- Timing is Everything! - Be certain that when you give your command, that you are doing it when the pet is performing it, not prior or shortly after. We want your pet to "sit" when they are in the process of sitting, not standing or a few seconds after sitting.
- Types of Rewards - There are three main types of rewards a pet may like; try each to see which one they respond to best!
- Food - There are good treats out there, something small that can be eaten quickly is ideal.
- Toys - What is your pet's favorite toy? A few seconds of play as a reward after the command can be a wonderful reward.
- Physical Contact - Maybe your pet is a picky eater or doesn't play with toys. A good scratch under the chin or pet along the back may be just what your pet finds pleasing.
- Patience, Patience, Patience. - I know you're in a hurry, but teaching your pet a new language takes time and patience. Don't give in because you are impatient! That only teaches your pet that if they are persistent enough, they will train you to give them what they want.
There is nothing more satisfying than bringing your pet to a store, home, or veterinary office and they act like perfect angels! You will be proud of them and they will be happy to have pleased you!
If you feel that you have tried "everything," seek professional help. Don't give up! Your friends at Davis Animal Hospital are rooting for you and so is your pet!