How to keep your pet friendly

Correctly training your pets can be tricky but will pay off in the end. Keep your dog friendly and your visitors safe by following these simple steps.

Keep your dog friendly and your visitors safe with these simple steps. | MSU Extension
Keep your dog friendly and your visitors safe with these simple steps. | MSU Extension

Michigan State University Extension recognizes that pets, especially dogs, play an important role in many of our lives. They are, in fact, "man's best friend." We value their company, enjoy playing with them and they aren't too expensive to keep around. They truly are the perfect companion.

Because we love and care about our dogs so much, their faults are sometimes hidden to us as owners. All too often, someone will be walking down the street or a friend will come to visit and your dog will start barking, jumping or even growling. Sometimes this is just a friendly reminder that someone is outside "in their yard," but visitors can get extremely worried about how the dog will treat them. We may know that our dog would never actually hurt anyone, but the strong reactions they give can scare friends and family. In order to prevent this situation, you can take a few precautionary steps to help keep your dogs relaxed when visitors come.

One of the most important things to remember when raising a dog is that the way you train your dog will determine its behavior. Just like with children, they need to be punished for doing the wrong thing; start when they are young so they learn quickly. Make sure to punish them when they do something you would not want them to do in five years. For example; going to the bathroom in the house, jumping on people, getting on the furniture, biting or hurting someone. There is no need to excessively punish your pet, but by ignoring their bad behavior, they will never learn to stop. This can sometimes be a difficult task because you may not want to punish your dog, but it will only take a few times before your dog knows to not misbehave.

''As owners, our favorite part of training our dogs is also their favorite part as recipients: the treats! Make sure to reward your dog for doing something right, such as asking to go outside to use the bathroom or greeting someone without jumping. Providing your dog with an incentive will help them learn to respect your visitors on a regular basis. Rewards can be treats or a simple pat on the head or verbal praise.

In addition to these basic steps, there are a few helpful practices that can help move the training process along. First and foremost, always keep treats with you when you go for walks or are at the house; keep their interest in doing the right thing and always reward them. In other words, make the good behavior easy and the wrong behavior difficult. Also, when first training your dog, always keep them on a leash or harness and teach them to walk with you rather than pulling you behind them or having you drag them. A harness works great during the training period because pulling on the harness puts pressure on their whole chest, instead of just their neck. Another great training technique is to get your dog accustomed to visitors. While they are still young and in the training period, get them around other people and other dogs and pets so you can teach them how to properly behave when encountering visitors. This will help ensure their good behavior in the long run.

We all love our pets as companions so let's make sure to train them right at a young age so our friends and family can enjoy their company just as much as we do!

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