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With the holidays coming to an end and travel and celebrations slowing down, now is the perfect time for some one on one training time with your pup.

During the holiday season did you have to:

  • Place your dog in another room away from guests (this includes other four-legged friends as well).
  • Use clever tactics to prevent damage to your Christmas decorations.
  • Safeguard your food to prevent your pup from stealing your turkey, or worse, ingesting toxic foods.
  • Yell at guests to “close the door” before your pooch attempts a doggy dash and escapes down the block.
  • Give sedatives to your dog due to stress or anxiety.
  • Constantly apologize for Rover jumping up, begging for food, barking, or exhibiting other unwanted behaviors.

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, January is the month to put all those behavioral issues to an end.

The truth is that often animal behavior and training are overlooked. Even in veterinary medicine behavioral issues are frequently ignored or not addressed thoroughly; however, training your dog should be taken just as seriously as their medical care.

We all know that dogs are a man/woman/person’s best friend, but behavioral issues can be extremely straining on your relationship. It is estimated in some literature (ASPCA) that almost 50% of pets placed in animal shelters for rehoming are due to behavioral issues. Most issues can be avoided or controlled when steps are taken to make sure your dog understands the difference between desirable and undesirable behaviors.

Basic training and commands also help to ensure the safety of your best friend and others. For example: A simple sit and stay command when followed prevents bolting behaviors, bad manners around the kitchen table, and unwanted interactions between guests coming in the Household.

The “Come” command can bring your dog immediately to you when there are dangers around that you want to avoid. The first step to approach training involves thinking about what your goals are for you and your dog and how can you accomplish these goals. There are a variety of resources that you can use to ensure your dog has manners and is well adapted to your environment and to several different situations.

Some options include:

  1. Group classes
  2. Individual Lessons
  3. Socialization classes
  4. Board and Train*
  5. Doggy Daycare
  6. Behavioral consultations
  7. Training at home with the aid of resources such as books, online guides, magazines, etc. When choosing an acceptable approach for training

Do:

  • Look for places/organizations that use positive reinforcement.
  • Use a variety of rewards such as praise, food, toys, etc.
  • Be consistent with your training.
  • Be patient. Everyone is learning. Sometimes it can take time for an animal to understand what it is you want or don’t want.
  • Make training fun for both of you.
  • Focus on rewarding desired behaviors.
  • Seek attention from a veterinary professional for guidance with more serious concerns or questions.

Precautions

Be careful. Do not trust just anyone who calls themselves a trainer. Do your research. Not all training is created equally. Some techniques can be harmful or create fear and inadvertently cause or worsen dangerous behaviors.

Be careful with facilities that use punishment without fully understanding the timing and risks involved. Punishment can backfire. Be careful with board and train facilities. Although this option seems easy, many board-certified veterinary behaviorists recommend using this option with caution as the goal is to stop behaviors as quickly as possible so you don’t regret sending them there. This sounds great and exactly what you are paying for but some of the tactics used at SOME of these facilities are not in alignment with promoting a safe and mentally stable situation for your dog. These tactics can produce short-term benefits with long-lasting negative effects.

Some recognized certifications and credentials that can be helpful when seeking help include the Animal Behavior Society (ABS), Associate Applied Animal Behaviorist(AABS), Certified Animal Behavior (CAAB), International Associate of Behavioral Consultants (IAABC), Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT), and Karen Pryor Academy.

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