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Helpful Tips For Training Your Horse And Dog

by Heather Carter January 25, 2023

Helpful Tips For Training Your Horse And Dog

At first, training your pet may seem overwhelming, especially if this is your first time doing so! But do not let that discourage you! If you take the training step by step and as slow as you and your pet need then before you know it, you will have a wonderfully trained furry friend which will make both your lives a lot easier and happier!

Here are some helpful tips to begin your pet’s training!

Horse

Before you begin training your horse it is important to know that it can at times be a challenging task that takes a lot of time, patience, dedication, and knowledge. Being prepared in advance by getting the proper literature, consulting other equestrians, or even taking classes yourself can make the entire training process better for both you and your horse.

Bond With Your Horse

Your horse will have a tough time participating in your training if it does not trust you. Animals need to feel safe, secure, and comfortable before they are willing to learn new skills without resistance and stress.

Befriend your horse by spending time together, getting to know them, and learning their communication signals and allowing them to do the same for you will benefit the both of you during the training process. Regular grooming, brushing, feeding, and spending quality time with your horse will help create a positive association with you that will help to begin building trust and even love between the two of you.

Groundwork Exercises

Groundwork is the foundation for all training. It is made up of any work you do on the ground with your horse before moving on to anything in the saddle and is a great way to introduce them to anything new. This will help create a level of respect and discipline needed while in the saddle and help your horse understand what you are asking of them.

Key skills and commands important in groundwork training include:

  • Standing Still
  • Properly Leading
  • Flexing
  • Haltering
  • Trotting and Cantering
  • Reacting to Pressure
  • Getting Your Horse on a Circle
  • Softening
  • Moving the Hind-End
  • Walking the Lunge Line
  • Moving the Shoulders

Groundwork will also provide you with a perfect opportunity to find and fix typical horse misbehaviors and problems, such as:

  • Stand Still for Mounting
  • Fear From Arena or Pen
  • Running Horse
  • Head Tossing
  • Kicking and Bucking
  • Bolting and Rearing

Once you have bonded with your horse, it will consider you a part of their herd and a part of their family. This will help keep them from misbehaving and help keep your control while on the ground and in the saddle!

Desensitize Your Horse

Desensitizing your horse is when you get them used to things that they are not otherwise used too. Horses are flight animals, which means that their first reaction is often to flee once they are spooked, startled, or panicked.

Horses are commonly scared of anything sudden, unexpected, or unknown. General phobias and fears often include:

  • Unknown humans (Specially when making loud noises or intense gestures)
  • Buzzing noises, machinery
  • Electrical devices, such as hair trimmers, fans, or compressors
  • Fire
  • Traffic cones, balloons, and umbrellas

Once you discover what scares your horse, you can begin to work with them to alleviate their fears and make them more comfortable. The best option is to begin exposure to a particular object or person by making sure that their source of anxiety is at a safe distance until they are more comfortable with it being closer.

When it comes to saddle training your horse, you are going to want to desensitize them by helping them get used to things on their back and around their stomach along with pressure on their sides, before ever getting in the saddle yourself.

Saddle Training

Once your horse has mastered its groundwork exercises, it is time to begin saddle training. Horses will initially be resistant to any heaviness on their backs, so you should start out with just getting them used to a blanket or saddle pads, before gradually adding the rest of the equipment, including bit, bridle, reins, and stirrups. 

Do not mount your horse as soon as it is accustomed to the saddle. Give them time to accept the addition of a new load and get in the habit of carrying extra weight. Only then should you try and mount them and only for a couple minutes. If your horse accepts you as a rider, try taking them for a short walk. You can gradually increase your time spent in the saddle until they are just as comfortable as you are!

Revisit their familiar exercises to give them a chance to relax and release stress before moving on to any other activities.

Reward Your Horse

During all parts of training, it is important to reward even the smallest try from your horse. This will help build the association between listening to you, on or off the saddle, and reward! Rewards do not, and probably should not, always be food based. An occasional treat as an award is fine but mix it up! Give them lots of pats and love, and extend their play and leisure time. Whatever works best between you and your horse and helps grow the bond of trust between you.

Try not to ask too much from your horse. This is a whole new experience for them and they might not always understand what you are trying to communicate. Start off slow, giving them plenty of patience and guidance, and enjoy the experience of training your horse!

 

Dog

To start your dog off on the right foot (or paw!) make sure you know what to expect from their training. Avoid using punishment such as leash corrections or yelling. This will only confuse and upset your dog and not help them learn what you are trying to teach them. Patience and positive reinforcement will go a long way!

Why Is Training So Important?

Encourages Desired Behavior- The most obvious reason to begin training your dog is that it encourages good behavior and discourages undesirable behavior as well. Training your dog typically includes teaching them how to sit, stay, and heel, as well as resisting chewing the wrong things, and where and when to urinate. This will help keep everyone happy and healthy!

Offers Mental Stimulation- Just like us, dogs can get bored and when they get bored, they can sometimes begin to act out. Training your dog, whether it is important life skills like sit and stay, or fun tricks like how to play dead can be a fun mental exercise that feels like playtime for your dog, and helps keep them mentally stimulated and happy too!

Builds Trust- Working alongside your dog to successfully learn a new command builds trust and increases the love and affection between the both of you. It will help both of you learn more about the other and develop a strong and lasting bond!

Training Tips

Perform Training On Leash- The core of all training is maintaining control. A controlled animal is focused, calm, and attentive- ready to listen and to respond to your commands. Using a leash with your dog allows you 90 percent more control over your dog and will help keep them in the right mind set to focus on their training. Do not yank on their leash when they do not listen, this will just cause them discomfort or pain and will not make them want to continue their training.

Keep It Consistent and Upbeat- You might be excited to get to the end result of training but do not rush it! Training is all about developing a relationship with your dog and working together to find out what works best for the both of you. Dogs want to please us and want us to be happy, so make sure to keep the energy positive and keep any frustrations or anger to yourself.

Keep the training sessions short and sweet! Try 10-15 mins a session 2-3 times a day and adjust as needed. And always end on a good note so that your dog will look forward to their next training session.

Be Prepared For Ups and Downs- Not every training session will go the way you want it to! Some days will seem like your dog has it all down and knows exactly what you want them to know, while being attentive and reception to your commands. Whereas other days might seem like have not learned anything and cannot focus on what you are teaching them. This is normal! Training is a marathon, not a sprint, and will always continue to evolve and change as you and your dog grow together.

Ask For Help- Remember that there is a lot of help out there as long as you know to ask for it. If you get to the point where you do not know what to do next in your training schedule or maybe what you are doing is no longer working the way you want it to, ask for help! Contact your veterinarian for advice or recommendations on trainers or other training technics. You do not have to do it all alone!

Training is all about learning as you go and making the time and effort to help teach your pets how to live safe and happy lives, where you can continue growing the love and respect between the both of you.😊




Heather Carter

Author



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