Dog Training - The Basics
Why is it important?
Dog training is important on many levels. The most important time to start training on your dog is before a problem starts. Just as it’s important to take care of your pet’s health before they’re sick with adequate exercise and proper nutrition, its just as important to begin training before behaviors have gotten out of control. We call this preventative-training. Giving your dog a solid foundation of control at home and in pubic will allow your dog to look to you for guidance and direction, rather than to act on their impulses or instincts.
What are the benefits?
There are many benefits to having a well trained dog! Wouldn’t it be fantastic to take your dog in public to a park, a fair, or a sports event, without your dog pulling on the leash, barking, or showing ill behaviors toward other dogs and people? Most people get dogs for their companionship. But if your dog is out of control, it becomes very difficult to take them into public. Other benefits include a well behaved dog in your home, and around your friends and family, which leads to a healthy relationship between you and your dog.
When should I start?
We recommend starting your puppy with a basic obedience class to establish commands and beginning structure at home. Early socialization is also very crucial to your puppy’s early development and longterm interaction with other dogs. But its never too late! If you acquire your dog as an adult, or got a late start on training, preventative training is always beneficial to help build a better understanding of your expectations for your dog.
What is the difference between obedience and behavior modification?
Obedience and behavior modification go hand in hand. You can’t have behavior modification without obedience and control. Obedience is basically teaching your dog proper manners. Leash walking, coming when called, sit/down, stay, etc. are all obedience commands. These commands are very important for any dog to know, but obedience is much more than just knowing the commands. Your dog should be capable of performing these commands around distractions. Behavior modification is changing an unwanted behavior by a series of drills that show the dog the expected behavior and test the results. Behavior modification is typically used for more advanced behaviors such as anxiety, aggression, or fear based behaviors.
How do I know I need a trainer?
Taking a class with your dog is not always a necessity if you take all the proper steps of early socialization, getting them out and interacting with new people and dogs, and working on obedience and control. If your dog starts to exhibit behavior problems, or you’re having a hard time gaining and maintaining their attention around distractions, you should probably contact a trainer. You should always contact a professional before there’s a problem. Early behavior problems can often be fixed, but a negative behavior that goes too long sometimes becomes a way of life and a cure isn’t always an option. Almost all behaviors can be controlled, but not all can be fixed. The key to getting control is getting help early!
How do I know what training tools to use?
Your best bet is to start training using treats as a reward. The best treats to use on a regular basis would be a portion of your puppy’s daily meal. That prevents over usage of the treats, which can lead to upset stomach or excessive bowel elimination. If your puppy isn’t interested in working for dog food, there are a wide variety of training treats that can be used, in moderation. There are several other training tools on the market that can successfully help you achieve the goals you wish with your dog, however we recommend proper use being taught by a professional dog trainer before buying any training tool and putting it on our dog to try.
Consistency is key.
Lay the foundation and build on that one step at a time. Make sure your dog knows what your expectations are, both in your home and out of it. You can’t correct your dog for doing something wrong if you never taught them what they should be doing. Remember that each dog is an individual, there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to dog training. What worked with other dogs you had may not work for this one. Be open minded and flexible. And when in doubt, call a dog trainer!