4 Steps To Train An Obedient Adopted Animal
Have you ever welcomed an adopted animal as a member of your family? You may call them your dog, cat, or fur baby. Whether you’re an animal advocate or simply enjoy companionship, people and pets alike will benefit tremendously from training.
Adopted animals often serve as emotional support companions. Even during your worst days, they love you unconditionally. Let’s be honest — sometimes we need them more than they need us.
Establishing a healthy relationship by implementing training routines will strengthen your bond. The trifecta of training an adopted animal is attained through repetition, consistency, and positive reinforcement.
“Having respect for animals makes us better humans.” -Jane Goodall
1. SET BOUNDARIES & REDIRECT OFTEN
Consider yourself a guardian, rather than viewing your adopted animal as a possession or vanity object. You are the owner of your house, your phone, and your car. However, having the responsibility of a living sentient creature requires a great deal of love and dedication.
Think of your adopted animal like your child — if you don’t already. Any parent knows that to raise well-behaved offspring, you must set clear rules and boundaries. Teach them to respect you. Obedience will develop once you have established a trusted relationship.
If there’s anything that teaching children for over a decade has taught me, it’s that using redirection is instrumental in forming positive behavior. The same concept can be applied to properly training your adopted animal.
For example, when my newly adopted cat began to claw at the walls or furniture, I quickly ran over toward his scratching post to redirect him and model exactly where I wanted him to scratch. Over time, he learned to scratch solely on these designated areas — taking the incentive to go by himself without my direction. Trust me, redirection and consistent behavior modeling works wonders!
2. GIVE POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT
In my experience, children who act out are often the ones who need guidance and compassion the most. The same idea applies to your adopted animal. Yelling at them or delivering punishment for bad behavior will only strain your relationship. It will not produce any effective results. Instead, emphasize encouragement and praise whenever they succeed.
There will be times when you need to correct undesirable behavior, but as a pet parent, it is also your responsibility to set them up for success. Take proactive measures rather than scolding your dog or cat for something you dislike. Teach them how to behave ideally, and they will follow suit.
Your adopted animal will be eager to learn a new trick or routine when you use positive reinforcement. Professional dog trainer Zak George does an excellent job demonstrating the proper way to handle these situations in his videos.
Give your pet a ‘high currency’ treat or toy whenever they successfully complete a task you requested. This will reinforce good behavior. An adopted animal is always more receptive to learning new behavior when they feel safe and loved.
“Reach deeper during training, and find a way to connect with your dog from the heart — not a leash and a collar.” -Zak George
3. PROVIDE ENRICHMENT
Pet parents occasionally overlook the importance of providing adequate enrichment activities. This often contributes toward sub-optimal behavior. As mentioned in my previous post, developing positive habits is beneficial for both you and your adopted animal.
Physical activity and play are very important for an animal’s overall health, but make sure to provide adequate mental stimulation as well. Practice training routines with them consistently. Over time, you will notice how intelligent, happy, and well-behaved your adopted animal can be.
Lastly, set aside a specific time each day to give them your undivided attention. Going for a walk with your pet while talking to someone or passively looking at your phone does not count. Be engaging, and make them a priority. After all, you are their world. Reciprocate the affection and devotion that your adopted animal gives to you.
4. RECIPROCATE RESPECT
Keep an open mind regarding what you think you want versus what you need. My husband and I had planned on adopting a dog for a while. Along came a beautiful black and white cat, and the rest is history. We didn’t choose him — he chose us. Our lives are richer and more fulfilled because we decided to adopt a serendipitous soul who brings us joy.
The most important thing to remember when training an adopted animal is to have patience. You may not always be aware of the trauma they experienced in their lives. Earning their trust might take some time, especially if they were neglected or mistreated in the past. Show them compassion. If you demand respect, you must offer it first.
Just like humans, it’s never too late for your adopted animal to learn new behavior. However, it may be more difficult for an animal to form positive habits the longer you wait to train them. Make it a priority to implement your desired expectations immediately. Ensure that everyone in your household is practicing the same training techniques.
Consistency is the key to success. You will discover that your bond and communication grows stronger the more frequently you make your adopted animal a priority. Training an obedient adopted animal is simple when you offer them your love, patience, and respect.