Following the lockdown announcement due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Google searches for ‘pets for adoption’ increased by a staggering 248%¹ and ‘dogs for adoption’ increased a huge 113%. On 16th March, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home² revealed that 86 dogs and 69 cats found forever homes, a considerable increase for the same day in 2019 when only 42 dogs and 29 cats were adopted.
While pet ownership can be incredibly rewarding, it is a big responsibility and training your new pet is often challenging even when the nation isn’t living in lockdown. Training is an excellent way to bond with your new pet and they will all benefit from basic training to establish rules and boundaries in the home and further afield.
With people unable to attend training sessions or seek face-to-face behavioural advice, pet food brand, Webbox, reveals how you can train your pets at home during lockdown.
1) Start at home
This is a great first step as lockdown means many people have more time than ever at home and this is a great place to begin your pet’s training. At home, there are fewer distractions so your pet can really focus on the commands you’re giving them. Once they are really confident with the commands in the comfort of their own home, slowly start to introduce distractions.
2) Punishment won’t work...ever
Punishment should never be used in training as it will only teach your pet to be scared of you and can potentially lead to aggressive behaviour. Instead, use your pet’s favourite treats to reward all wanted behaviour and ignore unwanted behaviour.
If you have adopted a pet and their unwanted behaviour cannot be avoided, it can be really hard to get them to stop. Instead, use positive reinforcement to train an alternative, acceptable behaviour for your pet to perform instead.
3) Keep sessions short
Don’t let your dog get bored, otherwise, they won’t listen to your commands. Make sure to keep your training sessions to around 10-15 minutes to ensure they are productive for both you and your pet.
4) Be consistent
When you are inconsistent with your training, you will confuse your pet and may accidentally reinforce undesired behaviour. Make sure you only reward your pet when they perform the desired commands and stick to your household rules.
The biggest concern of lockdown with a new pet is ensuring they’re socialised, so owners need to get creative with ways to introduce your pet to its surroundings. Firstly, if your new pet hasn’t been able to have its injections, you can show them the outside world from the window, letting them hear traffic noises and watch the postman.
You can carry your pet outside, so if you live in an urban area let them see other people and dogs (keeping a safe distance). If you live in a rural area, introducing your pets to farm animals is a great way to get them used to other animals.
6) Have a little patience
Training your pets is not a one-time thing. Your pet will be continually learning during its lifetime and it is important to keep up with their training. A perfectly trained pet does not happen overnight and it might take them longer to learn but stick with it and you will definitely get there.
7) And relax
If you have a young pet, as tempting it may be to work on their training and socialisation, remember they need time to sleep and relax too. Make sure they get a lot of chill-out time on their own, this will also help them to get used to not having you around.
Camille Ashforth, Senior Brand Manager at Webbox, says: “Firstly, we urge people considering adopting or buying a new pet during lockdown to think about their lives once lockdown is lifted and whether or not a pet fits into their daily routine.
“If you have just welcomed a new pet into your home, then we hope these home training tips provide guidance in your training journey. Training is a great way to build your relationship with your pet, and with more time on our hands, it’s a great time to spend more of your time working with your new pet.”