Tips & Tricks for Making Training a Treat!
By: Kristin Haltermann

Have you brought a new pet into your home in 2024? While pets can bring people a lot of joy, they can also be a lot of work.

And it’s worth it!

In 2020, when the world shut down, it seemed like everyone picked up a pet to keep them company at home. When the world opened up again, rescues became overwhelmed with surrenders from pet owners who did not take the time to train their pets. Unfortunately, we haven’t really slowed down, and the pets keep coming. One of the reasons people surrender their pets is “they are bad,” – which often means “I didn’t take the time to train them.” Parents will know that you need to train your kids to use the toilet, speak, sleep on their own, and not destroy your house. Your new pet is no different.


Tips for Smalls

Did you know that litter training extends past cats? Many people are unaware that it’s possible to litter train rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, and other small animals! With your smalls, you will need to find the litter specific to your pet. Hay litters are popular, as are pressed wood pellets, peat moss, and even shredded paper! You will also need a litter box that is the right size for your pet.


  • Place your litter box in a corner of their cage, preferably in a bathroom spot where they have already shown a preference.
  • Start litter training right away.
  • Be patient and know that accidents happen.
  • You may want to start with more than one litter box, so your pet has options.
  • Clean the litter box frequently (this includes wiping out the box to help with smells).


Tips for Cats

Cats generally pick up litter training fairly quickly, so it is essential to make sure they always know where their litter box is. If you move (or if they are new to your house), start by placing them inside the litter box as soon as possible. If your cat suddenly does not use its litter box, you may need to visit the vet. However, training cats can be much more than just using a litter box.


  • Cats like routine, so be consistent with your time for training and feeding.
  • Keep training sessions to less than 15 minutes at a time.
  • Teach one trick at a time.
  • Make sure they know their carrier is a safe space. Leave the carrier open and let them go in independently, then reward them with a chin scratch or a toy. Once they are comfortable, you can close the door and slowly build up the time they spend inside the carrier. Finally, you can start to carry it around the house, so they get used to the movement.
  • Try using double-sided tape to stop them from jumping on your counters. If they jump up, place them on the floor. Reward them if they don’t immediately jump back up.
  • Make sure they have scratching posts in plain sight in your rooms.


Tips for Dogs

Finally, for training dogs, you have some more options, such as scheduled obedience classes. With dogs, you will be looking for house/crate training, leash training, socializing, recall, basic commands (sit, lay down, stay), and more advanced tricks for fun. As with any living thing, repetition and consistency are key.


  • Use positive reinforcement; treats or kibble works well.
  • Keep training fun! Enjoy the time with your new dog.
  • Most dogs will not want to urinate when they sleep, so crate training can help reduce accidents, even when not in their crate. However, ensure they are not in their crate longer than they can comfortably go without a bathroom break.
  • Do not use your dog’s crate as a punishment.
  • When your dog pulls on their leash, stop moving. Yes, this means that you won’t get very far in your first few walks, but with time and consistency, it will get better.
  • Socialize your dog! Socialized dogs are less likely to develop behavioral problems.


Pets can be a lot of work, especially new pets. They need patience, consistency, forgiveness, and love. But at the end of the day, don’t we all?

If you are interested in aiding IWARS in their mission by taking an animal in need into your home, fill out and submit an application through their website today!

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