Stephanie Walton – photographer, lifestyle blogger and mother to Instagram stars, Severus and Lily – shares her top training tips…
Having a well-behaved dog is something we all look for, and however much love and devotion they give you, having them by your side means having them trained to some extent.
I love taking Sev and Lily everywhere with me, going to as many places as possible in our day-to-day life, as well as treating them to petaways or dog-friendly dinners out on our date night.
Although they are far from being angels, they do try to please. Having trained them from an early age this has really paid off and has allowed me to make sure they’re the best dogs they can be…
1. Puppy parties and training
However much you think you may know yourself, heading to training classes can really benefit your puppy as well as older dogs too. See your own vet for puppy parties or head to your local pet shop as some now offer them too. This is a great way for your pup to socialise and meet other dogs. Meeting everything, everyone and anything when they’re really young is key for them to be happy and comfortable later in life.
And of course, puppy classes and obedience classes can work wonders too, and it’s never too late for your dog to learn whatever its age. It keeps their mind alert and stimulated which is beneficial in the long run for every breed.
2. Reward good behaviour
This is so important and will certainly get your pooch on your side! Remember that not all dogs will be keen for treats, some may prefer playing a game, such as fetch or having their reward as a toy instead.
Knowing they will get something good after working hard will get their attention and they will feel good about all the praise and love.
3. Manners please
There are a few training commands that you can continue to practice at home (after the initial training) or begin teaching your dog yourself. Sit, stay and walk to heel are three that will get you through days out, posing for that all important Instagram photo or for when you have visitors.
The best way to begin teaching is to watch some videos by dog training experts – you can find many on YouTube – and having some yummy treats at hand. Knowing what you need to do before teaching your pet is really important. You’ll find a lot of dog training involves training you before your pet!
Teaching them to sit is a great start. Show your pooch you have a treat, move the treat from your dogs nose to behind their head slowly – they should move their head and sit down. Once they have sat, utter “sit” in a clear voice and then reward them with the treat and lots of praise. Repeat until they have mastered it!
4. Ignore bad behaviour
With our dogs, we found bad behaviour came in the form of jumping up to greet people. Humans are exciting, and carry treats and toys, so jumping up is an unsurprising form of behaviour that many dogs will perform. Ignoring this and turning around as soon as they do jump up is the best way to tackle it. Don’t talk to the dog or give them any kind of attention until all four feet are back on the floor. Only then should they be greeted.
5. Always end training sessions on a positive note
Training at home should only last for a few minutes at a time otherwise your dog will become bored and turn their attention elsewhere. If you’ve started to teach a new command, such as “shake a paw” but they are struggling to pick it up, go back to a well-known command like “sit” or “down” and then end the session there. Your furry friend has worked hard even if they didn’t pick up that new command. Plus, they will then be excited when you start a new session.
But most of all…have fun! Severus and Lily are such a joy to have in my life, and having them with me as much as possible is the best feeling. Allowing them to get enough exercise and burn off energy (they’re Spaniels after all) is really important to help them concentrate and remain focused when they’re not hyped up and excited.