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Training Thoughts to Consider

Training Thoughts to Consider

by Beth Ostrowski-Parks, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA

So you just acquired a new dog or puppy and you know that you must provide him with food and water, but did you know a dog's greatest need is for companionship?  That's right, companionship is more important to your dog than food.  That is a fact!

In order for your dog to get this companionship throughout her life you have to train her to live in a world designed for people.   When dogs move into their homes, they do not get a manual on what is expected of them.  Yet people often think their new dog should easily learn the rules of the home and when they don't, there is frustration.

Right or Wrong:   "You shouldn't start formal training in a class until your dog is at least 6 months old".

Although we have come a long way in educating new puppy owners, there are still some people that get this advice from other dog owners or their Veterinarians.  However, I have a strong argument for why you should be training your dog correctly from the beginning of your relationship.

Why?  We cannot invite a dog into our homes and let him just be a dog with no rules.  However, without teaching him what is expected early, we are setting him up to fail. And, if you wait until your dog is 6 months old, he has already learned some behaviors that are hard to "get rid of" later.  Think of how diligent we try to be with  housetraining. We immediately start working on this because cleaning up after accidents is time consuming and certainly not pleasant.  And the more accidents a puppy has, the harder it is to change that behavior and instinctively, we know that.

Or, how about protecting our own items from those puppy teeth?  How is a dog supposed to know NOT to chew on furniture, remotes, cell phones and shoes if we don't set up for some sort of success?

Consider the possibility that a new puppy or dog has fear or strong protection instincts, how do we teach him what he should do differently other then jump on, bark at, or at the worst, bite a family member, friend or neighbor?  These are all normal dog behaviors, yet we call them behavior problems because they may be happening in our homes. Without proper training, a dog will do all these undesired behaviors and more!  Proper dog training is not cruel or abusive when it is done correctly. 

At It's PAWSible!, our methods are very gentle and we teach you to use your voice, body postures, praise and food to get your dog to do what you want him to do.  Really it's the human part of the equasion that needs the training and that is what we do here at It's PAWSible!

Right or Wrong:   "Our puppy is so cute that we don't mind him jumping or sleeping on the couch for now. We'll change the rules later."

Remember, these puppies are going to grow. They are learning from us whether we are intentionally training them or not. That 15 pound puppy will expect to be allowed on the couch and on your bed even after he grows up.  Is that okay?  That is up to you but you should allow it or not allow it, depending on what you want in the future.

A 70 pound dog jumping on visitors is not usually welcomed by your friends and neighbors. However, unless we train our dogs not to jump early, they are going to do it. This is an excellent example of a behavior that will get a dog banned to the backyard or a room behind a closed door when company comes over. You must decide early what the rules are going to be and stick with them. A dog new to the family does not understand "maybe" or "sometimes".  Training is black and white--no gray areas. 

Right or Wrong:    "There is no need to socialize my dog, I don't plan on taking him anywhere to see people or other dogs."

Even if you don't think you will be out and about with your dog, you get one chance to socialize him and that is when he is really young.  You may be really sorry if you don't take advantage of your socialization period. 

If you've just gotten a shelter dog, this is the absolute BEST time to get started.  Shelter dogs come to you in a "honeymoon period".  You really don't know your dog until he is much more comfortable at your home.  Honeymoon periods can be up to 3 months.  I have a couple of articles to check out on new shelter dogs.

Group training classes are a great way to introduce your dog to people and other dogs and most people just don't realize the importance of socializing a dog. However, if you don't train during the first year of your dog's life, you could have a real behavior problem on your hands called aggression.  Often, this can be prevented if the dog is properly socialized.

Check out:  10 Steps to a Successful Adoption

Right or Wrong:   "You can't teach an old dog new tricks"

For those of you reading this that have adult dogs, it is never too late to begin training. I have many dogs that come to be trained beyond the age of 5 years old. Yes, some learned behaviors may be hard to change, but the owners will see some major differences once training has begun.

Dogs do want to be with us every minute.  That's why we love them so much.  So, you don't make a commitment to train you could be risking your dog's first greatest need . . . to be with you!

If you ever see that your dog is suffering with social settings or any other problem, please consider some private training.

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Have fun Training!