Dog Training Education Month
February has been designated as National Dog Training Education Month. It is estimated that only 4% of dogs in the U.S. receive any kind of training in their lifetime.
There are many good reasons for people to get training for their dogs. It teaches them to behave around people and other animals. It prepares them for the unexpected and teaches them how to act in a variety of situations. It helps prevent potentially annoying habits like digging, chewing and barking and greatly reduces the chance of them getting hurt or hurting others. It keeps them active and mentally stimulated and generally helps ensure a happier, healthier life. It is also a great way for both dog and owner to bond.
Types of training
One of the first behaviors new dog owners will likely want to address is teaching their dog not to pee or poop in the house. Ideally, it's best to start potty training when the dog is a puppy. Older dogs can be still be fully trained but the process may take a little longer. Either way, patience is key. Results may not happen overnight, but it is important to be consistent and stick to the the training.
Learning commands gives your dog structure and can prevent behavioral problems. It can also help keep your dog safe in certain situations. Some basic commands that every dog should learn are "sit", "come", "stay", "drop it" and "back up". Other non-essential commands include "shake paws", "roll over", "take a bow", "lie down", "beg", "spin".
Leash training ensures that your dog is okay with being hooked up to a leash and that they can be easily guided where you want them to go without resistance. For those who walk their dogs regularly, it can teach them to behave during the walk and not to pull or suddenly bolt. Even if you normally don't take your dogs for walks, there still may come an occasion where you need to put them on a leash so it is very helpful if they are at least familiar with leashes.
Your dog may be content around you but is also important they are comfortable around other people and animals they don't know. Socialization training not only helps them to more accepting of others but also helps other dogs be more welcoming to them. It can help avoid tense or volatile (or even violent) situations as well as preventing new fears and phobias from developing over time.
Because a dog has learned to obey commands in it's home doesn't necessarily mean that it will do the same outside the home. With proofing, your pups are taught to stay obedient and heed commands in many different environments and to ignore distractions.
Where To Get Training
There are many routes you can take:
Group Classes are usually conducted over several weeks and are sometimes divided into separate classes for puppies and older dogs. The puppy classes will address some of the basics such as potty training, chewing, digging, etc. Adult classes focus more on teaching dogs basic commands and curbing them from undesirable behaviors such as barking, jumping and digging.
Board & Train is an option that lets your dog stay at the home or facility of a professional trainer for a period of time while they work closely with your dog. They will address all of the basics or they may need to work on specific behaviors.
In-Home Training is where a professional comes to your house to train your dog. It is one of the more popular options because the trainer can try to work around the owner's schedule.
DIY Training is an option if you have a limited budget or would like to try teaching your dog yourself. If you choose that route, research as much as you can on the topic. There are many great resources that can provide you with valuable tips and introduce you to techniques that are known to work. It would also help to make sure you have some basic equipment including a harness, a (non-retractable) leash and training treats.
Basic tips for training at home:
- Keep sessions short (15 minutes or less), 3x per day.
- Work on one skill at a time.
- End sessions on a good note.
- Don't repeat commands. You want your dog to heed each verbal command the first time you give it.
- Use real rewards (chicken or cheese).
- Rewards have to be immediate. You must reward them very soon after completing the desired behavior so that they will associate the reward with the behavior.
- Reward must be consistent, They need to be able to anticipate what is coming if they behave in the desired way.
- Be patient. Training won't happen overnight but if you take baby steps and pace yourself you will see great results over time.
Training is an ongoing process and it is advised that you keep working on obedience training in some form for the duration of your dog's life. The results will be a happy, well-behaved dog and peace and order in the household. Feel free to contact us for a list of trainers in your area!