Dog Training Session (credit: David Rogers/Getty Images)

Since 2001, more than 7,500 dogs have been saved from overcrowded shelters and placed in loving homes through adoption drives in pop up locations from Alameda to Petaluma. Some puppies and rescue dogs require extra attention, and that’s where Abu-Arafeh’s assistance is so valuable. Anyone with a home for fostering or adoption can read about these dogs in need and see the weekly Bay Area mobile adopt-a-thons where 10-20 dogs are ready to meet their new owners.

Lena Abu-Arafeh
Rocket Dog Rescue
3150 18th St.
San Francisco, CA 94146
(415) 756-8188
www.rocketdogrescue.org

Expert dog trainer and owner of K9 Master Training Lena Abu-Arafeh believes that every dog deserves a chance, and that a trained dog makes a happy dog, as well as a happy owner. She has immersed herself in a catalog of dog training courses, academies and workshops to become a widely-recognized expert in dog training and behavior modification who has been the go-to resource for Rocket Dog Rescue for over five years. Now she is able to share her top tips for pet owners looking to train their own puppy, the same tips she recommends to adopters and fosters she works with.

Confinement Is Important

“Confinement training provides a comfortable bed or play area for the dog, while restricting access to areas where the dog might cause damage,” Abu-Arafeh says, “Whether it be in the kitchen, a small room such as a den or a crate, giving the dog a space to be during the time the dog is unattended will avoid accidents.” As there will be times when you must see to other chores and errands, be sure to take a walk together before the pet is confined or left alone.

Establish A Routine

“It’s important for dogs and owners to establish a routine,”Abu-Arafeh says. Feeding times, walks, play time, training times and a designated outdoor place should be established straight away, as most dogs thrive on having a routine. Besides, what goes in on a schedule comes out on a schedule. Guidelines from the ASPCA and Humane Society concur. Puppies should be taken out every hour, and all dogs should go out first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

Supervise Closely

House training is a commitment on the dog owner’s part. It’s best undertaken when you are able to be available, or have someone else reliably available, throughout the day. While you’re at home, keep the puppy on a leash so you can learn to recognize any signs your pet is giving about elimination needs and respond straight away. If you catch your pet in the act of soiling indoors, interrupt if you can, and use the established command when you go outdoors to the established place.

Employ Rewards, Not Punishment

During puppy training, “reward your dog every time they potty outside,” says Abu-Arafeh. “Give them a treat, or give lots of praise in a happy, positive voice that the dog will respond to.” This is effective when it’s done immediately. Do make sure your pet has finished eliminating before you offer praise. Remember to take the treats outdoors with you, as producing a reward once you’ve returned to the house is meaningless for your dog. On the flip side, there will be accidents. Scolding and punishment are counter-productive, no matter how fast you catch the mistake. Diligent and careful cleanup includes removing all traces of odors.

Monitor Intake, Including Water

As a general rule, puppies can control their bladder for about an hour for each month of age, meaning that frequent outings are required during training. Keeping a water bowl filled at all times isn’t good strategy for establishing a routine. Keeping your puppy on a consistent daily feeding schedule three or four times a day also means removing food between meals. “In addition to giving a set time for meals, you want to monitor water intake,” suggests Abu-Arafeh.

Laurie Jo Miller Farr loves walkable cities. A tourism industry professional and transplanted New Yorker by way of half-a-lifetime in London, she’s writing about the best of the bay and beyond for Yahoo, USA Today, eHow, and on Examiner.com.