At-Home Tips for Training Your Dog

Many people, including me, have taken the plunge and finally got a puppy during quarantine. You may be interested in getting a dog or adding a second dog into your life, but may be holding on to common myths about coaching your dog.

No fear! Let’s dispel some:

Dogs Need a Backyard

Not true. One of the most lovable things about dogs is that they crave social interaction. They would rather be with us even if it is in the smallest of places. Often, even if you have a big home with a lot of land, your dog will always choose to be right under your feet. Often, they are even on top of one another if it means they are close to you. It’s easier to have a yard if you intend to use it as a place to play games with your dog or to use it as a potty area. Dogs that are left alone in the yard feel the same way you would feel if during COVID-19 you were left alone in a yard without your phone or computer. It would be lonely and eventually feel very stressful since you would be on your own for most of the day, every day. What a dog needs is a parent who shares their values and activities—meaning you can live in a small apartment as long as you go on hikes, experience the outdoors, and so on. Or if you are a couch potato, get a dog that enjoys doing the same.

My Dog Needs Another Dog

Often, people get a second dog as a playmate for their dog, and it doesn’t work out. Not all dogs like to have siblings. They may feel: ‘I have such little time with my mom as it is, and if she gets another dog, I’ll have even less time with her.’ Your dog may like being an only child, where they get to go with you everywhere and enjoy you. We often see jealousy and it can at times lead to fighting. Trainers highly recommend to ‘ask’ your dog first by testing it. Find a rescue dog that you like and foster it for a couple of weeks and see how your dog feels about it.

Training Can Fix Everything

False. Some behavioral issues are rooted in a physical or emotional trauma that the dog experienced even before you got him or her. Some of the most popular breeds, such as goldendoodles, labradoodles, and Frenchies come from dog moms who are overbred and stressed during pregnancy. The pups are beautiful but have severe emotional issues (like fear or anxiety that sometimes comes across as aggression) that training cannot fix. It’s like trying to teach someone to speak different languages while all along the person cannot open his or her mouth to speak due to social anxiety. Many prefer to get an older doggie and not a puppy, because we can see easier if the dog has any issues that training will not fix.

Dogs Want to Dominate You

It is not true. Sadly, this myth sends millions of dogs to the shelter with a one-way no return ticket. Dogs are very much like toddlers where they are new to our culture and they don’t know how to speak our language. So, their behavior may seem harsh, like when they nip at us, play-bite, or ignore us. But it does not come from a need to dominate. Like toddlers, they need us and rely on us for guidance and love. Instead of being a dictator-alpha-leader, be a conscious, loving parent, the way you would behave toward a toddler. Explain to them through games what it is you WANT them to do, and make the learning a fun experience.

Dogs Should Give Us Unconditional Love

Nope! A relationship with a dog is like any other relationship: you cannot expect to receive without giving first. Just like you cannot make a withdrawal from your bank account if you have not first put money in that account. Other than God (if you believe!), no one gives unconditional love. But the more time you invest in your dog, and the more mindful you are, I can guarantee you that your dog will give you more than unconditional love. They will give you their full devotion. Your dog only needs you to show up fully to your relationship with them. And by the way, once you learn how to do it with your dog, it will make all your other relationships even better.

Did you get a dog during quarantine? Comment below!