It’s not feeling much like fall yet, but it’s time for the kids to go back to school. I know mine are thrilled (sure they are). We all know how important a good education is for all of us, but it’s not only people who need to learn. Our pets also need to know things like manners and boundaries to help them fit into our families.
Basic training for puppies begins on day one. Puppies are like young children — they are little sponges that soak up everything you can give them (they are also like little vacuum cleaners — sucking up everything on the floor as well- so keep small items and valuables picked up). They can start learning about house-breaking right away. There are certainly many methods out there, but one of the most effective is crate-training. This simply involves confining your puppy in a small space (like a wire crate) when you are not around or when you are asleep. Puppies instinctively do not want to soil their den, so this teaches them to control their elimination. You do need to take your puppy out frequently — you can’t expect her to go for eight hours right away. We can give you lots of details about this at your puppy’s first visit. It is also very easy to teach your puppy to sit, stay, lie down and do tricks. Training sessions should be just a couple of minutes — but by doing this two or three times a day, you’ll be rewarded with a dog who has quite a repertoire. Puppy classes are also a great idea. Going to a reputable dog trainer or choosing a class through local adult-education offerings are great ways to go.
Adult dogs certainly also can be trained. Every dog should learn to be polite and not jump up, bark incessantly, or pull on the leash and they should know basic commands like “sit”, “stay” and “no”. There are many opportunities for different types of obedience. Agility is a hot sport where the dogs, following the owner’s instructions, negotiate an obstacle course consisting of things like jumps, tunnels, ramps and weave poles. Animal Planet broadcasts the championships and it’s great fun to watch. You certainly don’t have to compete to enjoy this sport. It is a great way to bond with your dog. Standard obedience trials involve sit, down, stay, heel and other commands as well. Finding objects by scent is another popular event — and it’s not just limited to bloodhounds.
Another great way to use your pet’s training is to go through the AKC Canine Good Citizen Program. It culminates in a test that examines your pet’s ability to work with other people and dogs in different situations. Many of these dogs go on to a career of visiting nursing homes, schools, hospitals and other places where they can make a huge difference in the quality of life of the people they are in contact with.
There are many great references for dog and puppy training through books, DVDs, and knowledgeable trainers. If you have any questions or want to know more, please contact us.