The most important thing you can do for a dog is train them. Hands down, it is the best investment of time in your relationship with your dog. It will keep them safe; it will keep you safe; it will keep others safe. Training your dog teaches them how to interact with other dogs and other humans and just might keep them from tearing up things in your house. When looking into training, you will hear the terms of “basic obedience” and “behavior modification.” There’s a difference.
When teaching basic obedience, a trainer is helping you to teach your dog how to behave indoors and outdoors. They learn basic commands such as “come, sit, down, stay, leave it, drop it, off, and no.” It is best to start teaching these commands when your dog is a puppy – preferably under the age of six months, but they should be started at any age if your dog does not know basic commands. Repetition is essential at this stage because this is how a dog learns. The more you practice, the more quickly your dog will comply. There is also intermediate obedience training which focuses on interacting with your dog outside and on duration – how long your dog will hold commands. In advanced obedience training, one moves on to off leash training and hand signals. However, one must walk before they run, and the best foundation is laid with basic obedience training and consistent follow up and repetition.
Behavior modification is the process of altering a dog’s behavior from one path to another. It involves a change in routine in which your dog is taught something new and communication is critical during this phase. There is emphasis on developing a clear line of communication. Unwanted behaviors are blocked or redirected which takes time depending on the age of your dog. Repetition and consistent reward are the fuel. With behavior modification, dogs are taught how to make better choices and how to best bond and trust the owner. It’s effective in that it sets your dog up to succeed and goes beyond the simple commands of basic obedience.
Hiring a trainer can jump start the progress and achieve results faster than trying to do it yourself. YouTube has some great videos, but dog training should be left to the professionals. If you wish to discuss this further, speak to one of our pet specialists, or reach out to me. I am only a bark away.
Carolyn Lapps is the General Manager at Fetch Family Pet Resort. Her love and passion for all animals began at a young age and has led to a career. She is frequently consulted on pet socialization, family integration issues, and is highly regarded for her experience with domestic animal management and care.