Simple, practical advice. Isn’t that something every dog owner needs? Well, we’ve put together 5 tips to keep in mind when rearing your dog. From being consistent in your training to setting the rules of the house, these are oft-overlooked methods that can pave the way for a happy and harmonious home.

Consistency is key

Dogs require a lot of time and effort, but the payoff is worth it. Whether it’s the training they require or the exercise they crave, your dog needs a routine as much as you do.

See exercise as a chance to stretch both of your legs, to grow the bond between the two of you and to give your dog(s) a chance to socialize with other pups along the walk.

Any dog trainer will tell you that the secret to success is repetition. It doesn’t happen overnight.

Get them socialized!

Like humans, dogs become very resistant to “new” things the older they get. The upshot? Letting your dog socialize is very important and you should kickstart this process as soon as possible. Unfortunately, that introductory window tends to be a narrow one: between four or five months.

Socializing your dog doesn’t only mean letting them meet other people, or other dogs. It encompasses new experiences in a much broader sense too.

Introduce them to other pets, other sights, other sounds and keep the training consistent (as in the point above). In no time at all you’ll mold an animal that’s relaxed and attentive and embraces social situations in later life.

Take the time to learn what your dog is telling you

Body language: it’s that all-important communication tool and your dog is using it all the time. As any trainer or specialist will tell you, there are key triggers to look out for. Subtle changes in eye contact can mean different things. The way your dog’s mouth hangs open can mean something. The lips and ears are key signifiers. These are all things to look out for.

The problem? It’s incredibly easy to let your own thoughts and feelings colour what you’re seeing.

The key? Research what you’re seeing and to read these signals with impartiality. Head over to YouTube and take a look at the wealth of great content that’s available, or stay tuned to a future article in which we’ll unpack the subject in greater depth.

Never get physical

When your dog is unruly it’s tempting to give it a smack to get it back in line, but if you’re regularly resorting to violence you’re creating bigger problems for yourself. In this instance, call in a specialist to give you the help you need.

No, hitting your dog only severs the bond you have and makes the problem worse in the long run.

That doesn’t mean you should be a pushover, of course.

Instead, use positive reinforcement to get the behavior you require. Use treats and praise to indicate that you’re happy, and refuse these pleasures when you’re displeased. Your dog will quickly learn right from wrong. Though it sounds underhanded, this method really works.

Set the rules of the house

One of the ways dogs and humans are similar is that they both benefit from structure. Just as children grow into well-adjusted adults when they’ve got order in their lives, dogs respond to a routine and to a set of rules they can follow.

Your dog will run amok in a house that’s lax, with no clear rule of law. By contrast, let them know the difference between right and wrong – and institute a disciplined routine – and you’ll watch them soar.