Why is training so important?
Training is an essential part of owning a dog and can be started at any age. Training builds confidence, provides mental stimulation and strengthens the human-animal bond. Dogs are always learning. It is never too late to start training.
Dogs that have anxiety or more timid personalities can benefit from training. It provides a sense of accomplishment and provides a way for us to communicate with our four-legged family members. This strengthens the bond we have with our dogs through positive attention. Plus, they can spend time with us, which is what most dogs want, to be close to us.
Mental stimulation is an important part of a dog’s overall well-being. It is just as vital as daily physical exercise. When it is too cold or rainy outside, going through basic training skills indoors can be the exercise our bored dogs need. Or if your dog must limit exercise due to an injury or after a surgery, mental stimulation is necessary to keep them occupied.
Will training make my dog behave better?
Sometimes it is challenging for our dogs to understand what it is we are asking of them. This can cause frustration for both us and our dogs. Typically, what we think of as “bad” behavior is really normal dog behavior. These may include chewing on things or digging. Dogs explore their environment by using their noses, mouths and paws. If these normal behaviors are not used in an appropriate way, they can lead to trouble. Dogs will learn to do things when people are not around. Dogs have no concept of right or wrong. It is up to us to teach our dogs what is “right.” If a dog is taught to chew on toys, he/she will look for these instead of your shoes. The key is consistency with training and it can take a time to achieve the exact results you want.
What method of training is recommended?
The preferred method of training is positive reinforcement. This consists of rewarding your dog for doing something “right.” Rewards can be tasty treats, a favorite toy or praise. Training methods that use punishment can cause the “bad” behavior to get worse or even lead to aggression. Seeking help from a professional trainer is best. He or she can recommend a specific class or one-on-one sessions. Trainers that have gone through the Karen Pryor Academy have an extensive knowledge of positive reinforcement.
When should I start training my new puppy?
It is recommended to start socializing and training your puppy as soon as you get them home. Some breeders recommend waiting until the puppy has completed their vaccine series. However this is too late! When puppies are between the ages of 6 to 16 weeks they are in an ideal developmental stage to socialize them to all aspects of our world. This means exploring new people, new dogs, new cats and new locations. Enrolling your puppy in a “Puppy Socialization” class will help with both socializing and beginning early training process. Additionally young dogs will go through an adolescent phase between 8 – 18 months when socializing and training can be important tools to keep your dog friendly and happy as they go through the “teenage years”.
My dog knows basic commands, why do I need to train him or her?
If you recently adopted an adult dog or have had a dog for several years, training is possible. Obedience is the most common training people are aware of. There is also training for agility, nose work, therapy dogs, dock diving and trick dogs. If your dog has mastered sit and stay, it may be good to try something new. Contrary to the saying, you CAN teach an old dog new tricks!