Hi! My name is Brody, and there are four things you should know about me.
I know what you’re thinking. You? Eat the cat litter? But you’re a therapy dog!
I couldn’t help it, okay? The cats cook up such glorious treats, and so what if the food is second-hand? I know therapy dogs shouldn’t succumb to such temptations, but hear me out. With Mom so busy opening her new hospital, I haven’t been going to school a lot lately. And, believe it or not, those litter box treats were piling up, just sitting there, basically presented to me on their blue plastic platter.
The sound of my name was what brought me back to reality. And there I was, face caked in litter, staring up at my very angry Mom, aka, Alpha Female. I knew it was Alpha Female instead of just Mom because only she calls me by the cursed nickname, “Brody-No.” My actual full name is Good-Boy-Brody, and Mom calls me that more than anything. Like I said, I truly am a good boy. It was a slip-up, a collapse in morals, whatever you want to call it, I admit it. It happened. After she cleaned up my mess, all the while muttering about some mysterious bad dog, I heard her talking to Dad. I would be going back to school!
For all the humans out there, let me get a few things straight about school. It can be fun. It can be frustrating. It can be exhilarating, or it can be scary. Much of that depends on you. So, without further ado, I present you with “Brody’s Tips for Training Your Not-So-Good Dog from a Dog’s Perspective,” certified and tested by me, Good-Boy-Brody T.D.S.D. (Therapy Dog Show Dog). I made up that title for myself. Pretty cool, huh?
1. Figure out your training method
As a T.D.S.D. (Therapy Dog Show Dog) (proud!), I’ve been to lots of school, and I’ve been trained lots of different ways. There’s no one best way to train your dog. Pick the method that works best for both of you! I personally recommend trying out a couple to see what feels right. Just remember to think about it from our perspective and be kind.
2. Train your dog like you’re teaching someone something for the first time (because you are!)
I notice that a lot of humans forget that they’re actually teaching, not only training when they do school with their dog. My sister, Payten, a human, just turned three. I watch the bigger humans teach her things patiently, trying to explain difficult concepts in simpler ways if she doesn’t understand. This is just how to train a dog! Don’t just go through the motions. Think about what your dog isn’t getting and come up with a better way to explain it. With that big head humans have, you should be just fine.
3. Once your dog is trained, keep training
As you can tell from my regretful experience today with the litter, good behaviors need to be reinforced to be remembered. If you taught your dog to stay during puppyhood and they haven’t stayed for the last six years, don’t expect them to. Training is a lifelong process!
4. Old dogs can learn new tricks
Dogs are smart. I know some humans think that just because a dog is old, they won’t be able to learn anything new. That is speciesism, my friend. My adopted cousin, Ellie, a 9-year-old Pitbull, had never been trained a day in her life! Can you imagine? Now she potties outside and knows how to sit, stay, lie down, and come when called. What a success story! Your dog, no matter how old it is, can learn something new.
5. Be patient
Being a dog is great, but it’s hard to live in the human world. There are tons of distractions like cats, food, balls, and squeaky toys, plus quite the language barrier. The point is, be patient. Our minds wander, and we get upset if you get upset. We only want to make you happy (while smelling and eating and playing as much as possible). Work through difficult concepts with us slowly, and don’t expect us to get it on the first try. Especially if your dog is older, patience and persistence will get you far.
6. Only the best treats will work!
It sounds like a ploy, I know, but trust me, it’s necessary. No matter what training method you choose, all dogs love treats! When my mind is racing and my tail is wagging and my ears are picking up all the sounds, it’s hard for me to focus, but hold a bit of dehydrated beef liver in front of me, and it’s a game changer. Those aromatic waves of beef are like magic that reins me in. Use training treats to get your dog to focus on the treat (and you) during school. Liver treats are just my preference. Find out what your dog likes the most (just introduce new treats gradually!).
7. End training time on a high note
It may be tempting to give up training your dog if they’re not listening. Instead of getting frustrated and quitting, go over some basics that you know your dog knows. You’ll be proud that they’re listening, and they’ll be happy to please you. If you end training with anger, your dog will be upset, and next time, they might not be so excited for school.
That’s it for today! Let me know what training method you prefer and what your dog can do in the comments! I can’t wait to read them!
Good-Boy-Brody, T.D.S.D. (Therapy Dog Show Dog), a qualified expert, offers pet care tips from a canine perspective.