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Training the Pet

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"Arthur, if that dog is untrainable, I don't know how we can keep him."
David Read, Arthur, "Arthur's New Puppy"

Pets are great friends, but they can sometimes be a handful — they might chew things, scratch things, pee in the wrong place, poop in the wrong place, disobey, or even attack humans. Sometimes, the characters set out to nip this behaviour in the bud once and for all by Training the Pet.

This is common in a First Pet Story since inexperienced pet owners can have a hard time training pets, but it needn't be the trainer's first pet — heck, it doesn't even need to be their pet. Sometimes, someone is asked to train someone else's pet because they love animals and/or animals love them.

Sometimes, this will be a new pet adopted by a household (sometimes a Pet Baby Wild Animal, but usually a normal pet like a cat or a dog), and one character will threaten to give the pet away if the animal isn't trained pronto. Other times, this is a pet they've had for a while but has only just recently started to misbehave, or their misbehaviour has only recently become a problem (due to a landlord, Cranky Neighbour, etc.) In these cases, the problem might be solved by revealing that the animal was pregnant, had a splinter, or was just hungry, sad, etc.

If the trainer succeeds, then either the pet lives happily with its owners, or they'll end up needing to revert back to misbehaving (sometimes because Status Quo Is God) for some plot-relevant reason, perhaps with An Aesop about accepting animals for who they are. If the trainer fails, then either the pet will be given away, or the owners will have to just deal with their annoying behaviours. Can overlap with Fluffy Tamer if the pet is a monster and Apathetic Pet if they don't care about the owner or hate humans in general (though in those cases, they usually come around; see Defrosting Ice Queen and Took a Level in Kindness). Sometimes, they come around after their owner was nice to them. If they're a Sapient Pet, they might be a Jerk with a Heart of Gold. No relation to Toilet Training Plot (though it may involve housebreaking) or Training Montage.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Pokémon the Series: Diamond and Pearl: In "Tanks for the Memories!", Autumn has a very lazy Miltank named Ilta, who just ignores everything she says. As Ilta has been recently caught, Brock notes that she needs more time to get used to Autumn and helps Autumn train Ilta. By the end of it, Ilta comes to like Autumn after the latter saves her from a swarm of Beedrill.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • A Running Gag in Bruce Almighty is that Bruce's dog keeps peeing on the couch, despite his efforts to train him to pee outside. After receiving God's powers, he uses them to, among other things, teach the dog to use the toilet like a human. Once he learns to become more responsible with them, he instead potty-trains the dog via the unorthodox method of dragging the couch outside for him to pee up it, and gradually taking less and less of the couch each time.
  • Michael: Dorothy was hired by Malt to secretly train Sparky so that he could take him from Huey. To keep it on the down low, Malt tells Huey and Quinlan that Dorothy is an expert on Angels. The titular Angel, Michael, knows the truth and threatens to expose her if she doesn't join them on their road trip.

  • In Always in Trouble, Charlie the dog misbehaves around the house, so his owners send him to obedience school. This works for a while, but then he starts acting up again. However, he then improves again, even to the point of learning how to vacuum the rug.
  • Arthur: In "Arthur's New Puppy", the recently-adopted Pal annoys the Reads by keeping them up all night and tearing up things in the living room (among other things). Arthur decides to teach Pal tricks, and by the end of it, it works and David and Jane say Pal no longer has to stay in the garage.
  • Bad Kitty: In "School Daze", Kitty and Puppy are sent to an obedience school to control Kitty's horrible temper and Puppy's tendency to drool a lot. Puppy ends up learning to drool less, but Kitty's still as obnoxious as ever, and she trips Baby in order to be sent back to the school.
  • In Dennis the Menace and Ruff, Dennis loves Ruff, his pet dog, but his parents and his next-door neighbor, Mr. Wilson see Ruff as a nuisance since Ruff buries his bones in the Mitchells' backyard, leaves muddy pawprints in the Mitchells' house, and licks the dishes. Dennis has to teach Ruff to behave or his parents will send him away. For a while, Dennis succeeds in his lessons, including training Ruff to save a baby from drowning by practicing with his teddy bear, and as a result, Henry reluctantly lets Ruff join them in a party at Uncle Dick's house. On the way to the party, Ruff snatches a police officer's hat, and Dennis is now sure that his parents will send Ruff away. At the party, Dennis' two-year-old cousin, Billy falls into a pond and is in danger of drowning. Ruff sees Billy and rescues him just as Dennis taught him, is praised as a hero, and Henry decides never to send Ruff away after his heroic deed.
  • Dirty Bertie: In "Walkies", Mr. and Mrs. Burns become fed up with the family dog Whiffer's disobedience, so they make Bertie take him to obedience classes. However, the classes don't improve Whiffer's behaviour, so Bertie asks his friend Donna to help.
  • How to Train Your Dragon: In the first book in the series, Hiccup and the Hooligan boys take dragons from a cave. They have to train their dragons to hunt and obey basic commands by the time Thors'day Thursday rolls around, as there will be a dragon training tournament. However, it is not easy for Hiccup to teach Toothless the lazy brat to follow his orders, especially since it's said that dragons don't ever feel true love for their owners. This changes in the end when Toothless remembers how kind Hiccup was to him and saves him from the Whispering Death (though Toothless is still somewhat of a brat in later books).
  • In Lady Lollipop, a Spoiled Brat princess gets more than she bargained for when she gets a Brainy Pig named Lollipop for her birthday. Lollipop's former owner stays behind as a servant and starts training her, alongside teaching the princess how to look after Lollipop. It starts with housebreaking and teaching her how to wipe her feet, but then she starts learning tricks.
  • In Some Swell Pup, or, Are You Sure You Want a Dog?, a boy and a girl get a pet dog, but she chews on everything and has accidents everywhere because she is only a puppy. They try to send her to obedience classes, but she gets expelled, and they try training her themselves by yelling at her and pretending not to love her anymore, only to get told off for being mean. The book ends on a Bittersweet Ending — the kids have to accept their dog's misdeeds as normal, but they're just a phase that she will eventually outgrow.
  • Swindle contains a variation. As part of The Caper, the kids have to get past a vicious guard dog named Luther. So they recruit "animal whisperer" Savannah to befriend Luthor so that the rest of them can steal the Babe Ruth trading card.She succeeds so well that she adopts Luther after the caper and he is her pet for the rest of the series.
  • In "The Trouble with Dogs", Said Dad, a little girl named Kate and her parents have two dogs named Rosie and Dave, but they're both untrained and cause trouble. A trainer manages to get them to behave, but they end up dull and apathetic, so the family cancels their classes.
  • Witchworld: In "Witchmyth", Flo adopts a little troll, who initially is mean to her and pees on the floor, but she housetrains him (using a doll's potty) and teaches him manners.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Cesar Millan has had several shows, Dog Whisperer and Cesar911 which both have Cesar coming to help dog owners with misbehaving pets, although his philosophy is more that people need training. Sometimes the solution is as simple as basic obedience training while other dogs may need more specialized attention for things like separation anxiety.
  • The whole premise of It's Me or the Dog is someone (trainer Victoria Stilwell) teaching manners to ill-behaved dogs and determining the source of their bad behaviour.
  • My Cat from Hell is about cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy training people's misbehaving cats, though at least as often he trains the people on the appropriate way to take care of a cat (setting appropriate expectations on how the cat will behave, how to place the cat's litter box and food dish to make it feel comfortable, or how to avoid doing things that stress out the cat and cause it to lash out in frustration or fear).
  • Sesame Street: Inverted in one episode — Oscar adopts a dog and names her Cranky, but being a Grouch, who thinks Bad Is Good and Good Is Bad, he finds her too well-behaved and tries to teach her to be mean. When this fails, he sends her away, but he finds himself missing her, so he readopts her.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: In one episode, Geordi babysits his friend's cat, only for her to cough up a hairball and break a vase. He tells said friend, Data, that Spot needs to be trained, so Data tries verbal commands, but they don't work. We never learn what became of Data and his attempts to train Spot.

    Video Games 
  • Borderlands 2:
    • The sidequest "Walking the Dog" from the DLC campaign Mr. Torgue's Campaign of Carnage inverts this: Tiny Tina gives you the task of taking her pet, a Skag called Enrique, for a walk, as part of your training regime. This being both Pandora and Torgue territory, part of taking care of Enrique requires you to keep Enrique alive from bandits and other hostile creatures... and you running from Enrique. Successfully completing the sidequest prevents you from dealing with Enrique again.
    • During the DLC mini campaign Sir Hammerlock vs. the Son of Crawmerax, the surviving Vault Hunters from 1 talk about Talon, Mordecai's new mascot and the deceased Bloodwing's sire. Talon being a baby bird, it's prone to biting other people, like Lilith's finger. By the time of the DLC Commander Lilith and the Fight for Sanctuary, Talon grew up as an adult and stopped biting other people.
  • Digimon World DS: When the player is promoted to Silver Tamer, their task is to train a bratty Pagumon, who insists that he doesn't need a Tamer. When Pagumon unknowingly eats a toxic flower, the protagonist has to find a medicinal nut to cure him. Pagumon starts to trust them, and after getting Ellie a new Star Piece, Pagumon finds that Good Feels Good and decides to strive to be a better Digimon.
  • The Sims 4: Dogs will pee in the house until you've scolded them enough times for it. You can also teach them tricks. Cats also need to be scolded for jumping on counters or scratching furniture.

    Western Animation 
  • Arthur:
    • In "Arthur's New Puppy", the Reads get a puppy named Pal, but he isn't housebroken and he chews things up. The parents threaten to send him away to live on a farm if Arthur doesn't train him, so he does, and he lives with the Reads for the rest of the series.
    • In another episode, "D.W.'s Furry Freak-Out", D.W. tries to adopt a cat, but she's destructive and disobedient, even to the point where she thinks she doesn't like cats anymore. She tries to train her, but fails, until her real owner shows up, brings her back, and reveals that she responds to music.
  • Bobinogs: In one episode, Ogi adopts a baby dragon named Dylan and tries to teach him not to eat everything. He unfortunately fails and has to send him back to his mother.
  • The Casagrandes:
    • In "Perro Malo", the eponymous family thinks their dog Lalo has been acting aggressive, and the grandfather, Hector, threatens to send him away if he's not retrained. The Casagrandes try to give him lessons with their friends' dogs, but none of the attempts work. Luckily, it turns out that this was actually his brother Malo, and the real Lalo is returned to the family.
    • In one episode, "My Fair Cat Lady", the pound owner threatens to lock a clowder of aggressive stray cats away if they can't be tamed. Adelaide tries to teach them manners and get them adopted, but they only behave if fish is on offer. Thankfully, when Great Lakes City gets a rat infestation, they're hired as exterminators.
  • In the Danny Phantom episode "Shades of Gray" Danny tries to train the ghost dog that's been causing all the trouble in the episode only to find the ghost is already trained. It's implied the ghost dog is one of the guard dogs that were "retired" from guarding Axion Labs.
  • The Ghost And Molly Mcgee: In “Goat Your Own Way”, after joining a “4H”-style club, Molly is tasked with training a goat. Instead of following the club counselor’s guidelines, Molly finds herself unable to say no to the goat and decides to let it have whatever it wants, winding up with an overweight, disobedient goat.
  • Home Movies: In "Honkey Magoo", Brendon, Jason and Melissa come across a lost puppy, who Brendon calls Honkey Magoonote . Though Brendon finds Honkey Magoo annoying, he wants to prove that he can train him, so he and Mr. Lynch teach Honkey Magoo tricks. They try to show this off to the neighborhood, but Honkey Magoo gets annoyed by Lynch's whistle and tackles a guy in the audience. By the end of it, Honkey Magoo's actual owners show up to take him home and reveal that his real name is Woogie, but Brendon is rather glad to see him go.
  • The Legend of Korra: The second season episode "Peacekeepers" has a B-Plot of Tenzin teaching his young son Meelo how to properly train his pet lemur. At first, Meelo doesn't like being harsh with the lemur, but he is pleased when he sees the results of the pet's new behavior.
  • Lilo & Stitch: The Series: In "Bad Stitch", Nani is displeased because of Stitch's tendency to destroy things out of frustration. Lilo tries to Tame His Anger through various tactics from a book about dog training, but none of them are successful. When Lilo says they can't afford to keep Stitch if he doesn't curb his destructive tendencies, he goes to see Professor Gunther Freem (actually a disguised Hämsterviel), who reverts him back to his old feral personality. However, Lilo snaps him out of this state by telling him that she loves him. Though by the ending, Stitch hasn't completely overcome his tendency to break things when it's shown that he tore through the living room to find glue.
  • The Loud House:
    • In "A Mutt Above", Lana wants to enter her dog Charles in a dog show, but, while not particularly naughty, Charles is unrefined. Her twin sister Lola manages to train him to be sophisticated, but then he loses interest in playing in the mud, so Lana tells him to drop his sophistication.
    • In "Training Day", Stella gets a rabbit named Jazzy, but he is extremely destructive, pees everywhere, and attacks people. She knows Lana is very good at training pets, so she gives him to her to train, but all her attempts fail. Luckily, however, it turns out that Jazzy was only acting up because he missed his brother, Snazzy. Once Stella adopts both rabbits, they start behaving themselves.
  • Martha Speaks:
    • In "Skits Behaves", the Lorraines become frustrated with the misbehaviour of their dog Skits. Helen tries various techniques on him, but none of them work. Her other dog, Martha, reveals that her housebreaking took a long time, and sometimes with dog training, you just need to be patient.
    • In one episode, a large dog named Bob moves in across the road, but he chases people and won't stop barking. Helen and Martha make several attempts at teaching him manners, but none of them work. Eventually, however, it's revealed that when he is complimented, he becomes a Big Friendly Dog, and he was only being aggressive because his owner was calling him a "bad dog".
  • Molly of Denali: In "Puppy Sitting," Trini trains Khi, one of Tooey's sled dogs, using a checklist that Tooey made. She does a good job at first, and teaches Khi how to say 'please,' but she quickly becomes irresponsible.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In the subplot of "Forever Filly", a filly named Zipporwill has been having trouble with her dog Ripley, who's been refusing to listen to her anymore. Sweetie Belle determines that (just like she'd been with her big sister Rarity), Ripley feels patronised — he's a full-grown dog, yet Zipporwill calls him "puppy" and gives him puppy toys to play with. Once she starts calling him by name and giving him more age-appropriate toys, he starts listening to her again.
  • In the Ready Jet Go! episode "Pet Sounds," Mitchell enlists Jet to train his dog, Cody, while Mitchell is away at his grandparents' house for the weekend. Jet and the others have difficulty teaching Cody new tricks, but they find out that Cody can do amazing tricks if he gets treats as an incentive.
  • Rugrats (1991): In the subplot of "Trading Phil", Grandpa Lou is trying to teach Spiffy the energetic puppy tricks, which isn't so successful since Spiffy keeps doing the opposite of what he's told. Dil, on the other hand, is better at obeying Lou's commands.
  • The Simpsons: In "Bart's Dog Gets an F", the Simpsons have had enough of Santa's Little Helper misbehaving, so Homer threatens to give him away if he doesn't learn. Bart takes him to obedience school but struggles to have SLH obey commands. It's only after Bart pours his heart out to him that the dog starts understanding and finally does what he says.