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The Importance of Training Your Pet

January is National Train Your Dog month, and nothing could be more important for the health and well-being of your dog (OR cat).  A dog should understand basic commands and etiquette, if not for your sanity, then for its safety. More dogs are released to shelters annually due to “behavior” issues than for any other reason. Chances are it’s not their fault.Donttrainmedontblameme

It is important to start training a dog as soon as you get it. This helps the dog understand your expectations right from the start.  Simple commands like, “Sit” and “Down” (for “Lie Down”), as well as “Off” (for “no jumping up”, or to get it off furniture and other undesirable areas) are important to start working on right away.

Here are some great tips for training time from The Examiner:

1. Time, patience and proper discipline are important to the success of the training program.

2. Don't start training on a day that you are in a bad mood or irritated; you might risk bringing that mood to the training, which is very counterproductive.

3. Learning how to read your dog's body language will help you to understand your dog needs. A stressed dog will show it, and that is a good time to take a break in the regimen.

4. Always use positive reinforcement methods. This is important for building a bond of trustiness with your dog. Yelling and hitting don't work, mostly because the dog doesn't understand that communication. Dogs don't punish each other.

5. End the practice sessions by playing with your dog for a few minutes, as a reward for engaging in your training.   (examiner.com - April  24, 2012)

One of the most common mistakes in training dogs is allowing the dog to be ahead of you on a walk. This encourages ‘pulling’ as the dog sees open road in front of it and does not understand what you are asking of it. Dogs should be kept by your side when walking, not allowed to pull ahead. Many unnecessary poke collars and choke chains could be left in the pet store if people would realize this simple rule gives the dog the guidance and assurance it needs.

If your dog does not respond to simple training methods, it’s time to seek a professional trainer.  Reputable trainers are out there, as are disreputable ones. It’s best to ask your veterinarian who he or she would recommend. It could save both of you a lot of headache, and heartache, in the long run.

Anxiety an issue? For information on how to help treat anxiety in dogs, please check out our August blog on how to help with anxiety issues.

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