So, have you finally decided on getting an emotional support dog? Amazing! But do you know how to train him?
Wait! Does an ESA dog also need training?
A lot of people have this misconception that an emotional support animal does not need any kind of training. However, it’s far from the truth. An emotional support animal is just like any other pet, with just a different title. And thus, it definitely needs to be trained.
But then what’s with “no training needed?”
Well, this part is a little tricky. You should note that, unlike service dogs, an emotional support dog does not need any “special” kind of training. The work of an ESA is only to be with you and provide you with love and companionship. And that they can do naturally. However, if we talk about basic training, they definitely need it. Otherwise, how will they live or travel with you?
So, if you have just brought your little ESA pup home, here are a few tips to help you train him efficiently.
Choose His Name Wisely
When you take a pup at home, the first thing you are likely to do is pick up a name for him. And though the task may sound simple, choosing the right name for your dog is a little tricky.
The name of your dog is actually one of the biggest aspects of his personality. It will be the thing he’ll probably hear the most. And so, for the purpose of training, you should choose a name that is short and has a strong consonant at the end, such as Ginger, Jasper etc. This will help him hear it with a lot more clarity and make his training a lot easier.
Set the House Rules
Before you take your pup home, decide on the things he can and can’t do inside the house. Is he allowed to climb on the bed? Are there any parts of the house you don’t want him to go to? Where do you want him to eat and sleep? All the rules should be clear beforehand. This will not only make it easy for you to train him, but will also avoid confusion for him.
Setting the indoor rules is even more important if you are taking your ESA to your college or a rented place. So, make sure you have the list of the rules prepared beforehand.
Set Realistic Goals
Training a dog is a gradual process, which will obviously take some time. And so, you need to have realistic expectations. Rushing things isn’t gonna do anything. In fact, it will only put more pressure on your dog as well as you.
You should also note that the behaviors, such as barking, jumping, and digging, etc., that are “normal” parts of a dog’s personality are going to take the most time. So, you need to be even more patient with these. Just try to keep your calm and keep going. Slowly, the things will change for good.
Learn the Difference Between Bribery and Reward
A lot of people consider using treats to train the dogs, bribery. However, dogs actually do what they find enjoyable. Furthermore, if treating them is helping you to train them, what’s wrong with using it?
Having said that, you should understand the actual difference between bribery and reward. If the treat is producing a behavior, it’s bribery. But if a behavior is getting them a treat, that’s a reward. And you should use reward while training your dog, not bribery.
Furthermore, a treat isn’t the only way to reward your pooch for good behavior. You may also use some other ways, such as praise, games, touch, walks etc.
Learn to listen to Him
Dogs, no doubt, are very friendly pets. In fact, they can even help you manage your social anxiety and many other problems. However, in certain conditions, your dog may also become uncomfortable. For instance, when they are around some people or other pets. And you need to read the signs.
If your dog seems uncomfortable around other dogs or people, don’t force them to say hello. Instead, try to find what’s the reason behind such behavior. And try to help him overcome this fear. Humans and dogs can be a lot alike in some cases. They also feel pain. They also get sad when their owner goes away. And they also fall ill sometimes. So, rather than just expecting him to be your support all the time, you should also put some effort into reciprocating that support.
End with the Positivity
As I said earlier, your pet also has emotions. And so, just like humans, they also seek approval. Leaving your training session with a few words of appreciation can make your pup feel really happy.
Words like “good job boy!” or “Well done, Jasper!” can show him that you care for him. And he definitely deserves this. After all, he has worked so hard to stand up to your expectations. Furthermore, your love and appreciation will also make sure that he comes to the next session with even more energy and excitement.