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Train Your Pet Like a Pro

May is National Pet Month, a time to celebrate our pets. But every month is a good time to build your bond with your pets through training and play! While training may have once been considered a chore that you got out of the way when puppies were young (and perhaps never with kittens), today’s pet parents realize that training is a fun activity. All of our pets — both our dogs and our cats — were trained using positive reinforcement techniques, ones that reward the behaviors we want to see repeated. The result: effective training sessions that are fun for us all.

We recently checked out our local Tuesday Morning store to find training products (at deeply discounted prices) for both dogs and cats — and ones that address all kinds of training issues, from puppy training to chewing issues to inappropriate cat scratching.

Give Positive Reinforcement With Training Treats

Treat training is a great way to help your pet learn faster — and make training fun for you both! You’ll use treats given with praise immediately when your pet performs a command or exhibits the behavior you are seeking. We love USA-made treats for both our dogs and cats.

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USA-made dog treats $3.99 (compare at $6.99)

Meat treats like these provide a powerful incentive for your dog. Called “high value” training treats by trainers, meat treats work best with most dogs during training. Small treats like these are ideal for training since training requires numerous treats to reinforce your dog’s behavior. If you discover treats that your dog loves but they aren’t training treat size, use kitchen shears to cut them into pea-sized pieces.

Cats also benefit from positive reinforcement training and respond well to treat training! Our cats love these great cat treats:

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Cat treats $2.99 (compare at $5.59)

Improve Your Dog’s Behavior With Toys

Toys may equal fun in your dog’s eyes, but they’re also wonderful training tools. If you’ve ever watched a demonstration of police or drug detection dogs, you’ll see that these working dogs are often rewarded with their favorite toy, a powerful motivator for active dogs.

Squeaking toys can be a great way to help your dog learn to watch you (or to watch the camera for a photo!). Squeaking toys like this plush one are favorites with many adult dogs. Plush toys are also great for traveling dogs who are comforted by a scent of home, which the toy contains.

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Plush toy $5.99 (compare at $14.99)

Puppies and tough chewers need toys that are more chew-resistant; look for ballistic nylon to stand up to those sharp puppy teeth or active adults. Toys like this chew tug provide a satisfying bite — while saving your slippers! This toy features a crinkle bottle inside the heavy nylon case:

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Nylon crinkle toy $6.99 (compare at $14.99)

You can also combine toys and treats by using stuffable toys. These hard rubber toys stand up to the bite force of your dog and provide the reinforcement of a treat. Our dogs loved this stuffable toy from our Tuesday Morning. It comes with specially-sized treats that fit in the toy, but you can also use peanut butter, a favorite with many dogs. We picked up this all-natural peanut butter at Tuesday Morning as well!

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All-natural peanut butter $3.99 (compare at $6.99), stuffable toy $6.99 (compare at $15.99)

Train for Walks With Leashes & Collars

Training your dog means getting your dog out and about in all kinds of situations and locations — the more, the better. To do so, you’ll want a variety of leashes, from short leashes for city streets to long leashes to teach your dog recall (to come to you when you call). We found a wide variety of both leashes and collars at our local Tuesday Morning.

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Collar $4.99 (compare at $14.99), matching leash $5.99 (compare at $14.99)

Crate Train Dogs & Cats

Crate training works by offering your pet a den-like area in the home all her own. Your new dog or cat is given a crate that becomes their own special, safe place. Never use the crate as punishment but make it a happy place by including a soft crate mat, plush toy and even hidden treats inside.

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Small crate $24.99 (compare at $59.99)

Crates are excellent tools for housetraining a new dog, preventing a puppy from chewing dangerous cords in your home when unsupervised, or giving a new cat a safe home within your home the first few days. We purchased this small crate at Tuesday Morning for just $24.99 (compare at $59.99 at other stores), making it inexpensive enough to purchase multiple crates as your pet grows. (Crates make great donation gifts for your local shelter, too!)

Redirect Cat Scratching

Some of the behaviors that we don’t want to see in our homes are ones that are entirely natural for our pets, like your cat scratching her nails on the furniture. Scratching not only provides your cat with a way to sharpen her claws, sloughing off the outer portion of the nail, but it also offers a good stretch for her back, neck and shoulders. Most importantly, it also provides her a way to leave her scent on an object she’d like to mark as her own, transferring the scent from her paw pads to the object being scratched.

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Cat scratcher $14.99 (compare at $29.99)

Redirecting this natural behavior is the best way to train your cat. A scratcher is a great way to give your cat the joy of scratching while saving your sofa. Place the scratcher near where your cat has been scratching so that she will be marking the same area in the house. You can also sprinkle some catnip on the scratcher to let your cat know that the scratcher is hers to enjoy. Our cats loved this scratcher that we found at Tuesday Morning.

Training your pet is a great way to strengthen the bond between the two of you. You’ll learn how to communicate more effectively with your dog or cat, and you’ll both learn how to understand each other’s needs. After all, that’s what being a best friend is all about!

For even more advice on training your furry friends, head over to our Pet Training Tips & Tricks pinboard.