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You never really understand what it’s like to own a puppy until you bring one home and start living the dog life. Sure, reading a book on house training provides a few answers, but advice from pet parents who have lived it and seen the other side is far more helpful. Or, at the very least, knowing someone else has felt your pain can make life a wee bit easier. We scoured Reddit for some terrific pet advice, straight from the keyboards of dog and cat moms and dads who’ve been there, done that, and have the stories to prove it.

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1 a very good doggo looking at the camera
Mint Images/Getty Images

Ingrain Basic Commands ASAP

“Sit down. Leave it. Look at me. Come. Touch. Stay. Go to bed. On. Off. My essentials.” - lowkeyheroguy

Add Personalized Commands to Fit Your Lifestyle

“[I taught my dog] not to door dash, and instead to wait for a release to go through external doors. It’s immensely helpful, as I can leave my house door open when I’m carrying things in or out. It’s also potentially life-saving, as my dogs will never run out the door and into the road.” - ASleepaandAForgetting 

Feeling Lost? Use an App

“I’ve enjoyed the Dogo Training app. It has a great list of ideas and puts them in order of skill. It also allows you to track/record progress and it has a clicker built in. It’s free and you can have multiple pet profiles to track progress in a multi-dog household.” - probswinedrunk

Use Enzymatic Pee Cleaners

“Just want to throw out there to make sure you’re using enzymatic cleaner to clean [pee], otherwise the smell will still linger (even if you can’t smell it, they still can). It will either use the word enzymatic or mention urine or both. If they smell pee, they think pee belongs there.” - alphaidioma

2 a dog looking out the window
Justin Paget/Getty Images

Block Views of Pedestrians to Stop Barking

“One of my friends bought translucent window clings to address this situation. She covered the lower portions of the windows so they look like frosted glass. Her dogs can still hear what’s going on outside, so it doesn’t eliminate the problem entirely, but she says it cut down [on] a lot of the barking at passersby.” - anniebeeknits

Mental Exercise Can Curb Destructive Behavior

“[German Shepherds] aren’t built great for jogging to begin with, but the general consensus is that you should wait until they’re at least a year old before you start running with them. Mental exercise will also stave off destructive behavior much better than physical exercise will.” - pamplemoussemethode 

Make Obedience Fun

“What has worked for me is to celebrate when my dog has something [in her mouth] she shouldn’t (non-lethal)! I make a big deal of thanking her for finding it, and then I go get a treat. She typically drops the item when I display the treat. Then I slowly take the item, saying, ‘This is for me,’ and then give her the treat. ‘This is for you!’ Now, she happily shows me squeakers and even bits of trash! Fine with me! Have all the extra kibble you want, just don’t swallow bubble wrap.” - objectivelyoriented

3 a cat sitting in a cat tower
Tsuey Inn Fung / EyeEm/Getty Images

Show Cats How to Use Scratching Posts

“Demonstrate. Cats are visual learners.” - chjako1115

A Kong and Peanut Butter Soothes Separation Anxiety

“We used to have this [problem], and then we started filling the Kong with peanut butter. The change was immediate. Peanut butter > feelings, apparently. We also started out small. We would leave for 15 minutes, then an hour, then a few hours, each time with the Kong and peanut butter. Obviously, that takes some time to build up that you may not have, but it worked well for our pup.” - oh_my_freaking_gosh

Never Underestimate an Old Dog

“I used to have a black lab who slept in our bed occasionally. For whatever reason she liked my spot. So, every so often, she would put one paw on the bed and act like she was having a hard time getting up. (She was getting older at this point, so it was plausible.) When I would get out of the bed to help her, she would leap up and get into my spot.” - JustSomeBoringRando

Invest in an Automatic Car Starter

“Install an automatic car starter, if possible. I originally got mine to warm up and cool down my car for my commute to work, but stopped driving every day about two years ago when I got a job in the city I live in. Now, I primarily use the car starter for my dog. Whenever I have my dog with me and need to stop somewhere, I lock the car, start it from the outside, and I’m good for a full 25 minutes.” - 51shadesoftay 

Invest in a Calorie Counter

“I use a calorie calculator to figure out how much to feed my boys… Different brands can have widely different calorie counts, so always check the can/bag. Some don’t list it on the packaging and you have to check the website.” - chrbronte

Get Cooling Vests for Hot Climates

“I recently picked up a cooling vest and I found that it really helps. We can double our walk time with the vest on.” - ScaryPearls

4 a sad little pug
Shaeef Abdoelhak / EyeEm/Getty Images

Follow This 5-Second Rule

“Check the footpath (sidewalk, I think it’s called in the U.S.) to make sure it’s not too hot for pupper’s paws. In Australia, it gets really hot in summer and we have a five second rule. If you put your hand on the footpath or road or wherever you are walking your dog, and your hand gets too hot in five seconds, then it’s too hot for doggo.” - Gertie777

Red Ears Mean Danger

“Keep an eye on your dog’s ears. That is the first sign of overheating. I have trained police K9’s in Texas, and we have no overheating issues as long as we don’t let the ears get red. It’s one of the surfaces they use to release heat, so you will see more blood flow in the ears, thus they get pink, then red. Much easier to watch in a pointed ear breed.” - Kathw13

Offer Alternatives to Change Bad Behavior

“For every no, there needs to be a yes. In other words, every time you reject the kitten’s aggressive play, you need to offer an alternative, healthier form of play…If you don’t offer healthy forms of play, then the kitten will just find its own way of playing…If you never offer the options, it’s possible that the kitten may simply never realize that aggressive play isn’t the only existing option.” - MeowSterling

5 two dogs on leashes
Rahul Agarwal / EyeEm/Getty Images

Introductions Take Time

“A while back I posted about my 9-year-old aggressive [Jack Russell Terrier] and that we were getting a new Mini Aussie. We had them separated for 2 months. They only saw each other through the gate and on walks (sometimes). It was very slow. A VERY slow progress. [Three] months later and they are best friends…My general approach was separating them and really only letting ‘together’ time be on walks. We separated them 24/7…Maybe once every few days I’d let them play AROUND (not with) each other.” - engedi13

Start with Fake Baths if Dog Is Afraid of Water

“Give her a bath every day. Before dinner or a walk or she gets that stuffed Kong you two go into the tub and she gets rubbed down then ‘dried off’ with a towel. Next week…add in a pretend shampooing. Then dribble water in the tub so her feet touch the dreaded wet…Start pretending to wet her with a hose at this point… When you actually dare wet her, do feet and rear end first. Just use water so if you have to bail out it’s not a problem…This is all very tedious, but at some point, she’ll figure it out.” - msmaynards 

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