Training Your Dog

Ever wonder why you should train your puppy/dog?

Training a puppy/dog should begin the moment you bring him/her home.

Training your dog is freedom. With training you will be able to take your dog to more places, knowing he/she will behave. Training is also bonding, it is you and your dog working together, so you can enjoy each other's company. Training a young puppy is easier than training an older dog because they are ‘blank slates’ with few, if any bad habits to undo.

Training also requires that you understand the animal nature of dogs, their love of rules, ritual, food, and reinforcement. Training is a moral responsibility involving stewardship for another species; it asks as much of us, the dog owner, as it does of the dog. Training dogs and educating humans, both require an understanding of the principles of learning, and a respect for the individual needs and talents of the student. Training your puppy/dog should be an enjoyable experience for both of you and should not involve any negative or punishment-based components.

Should I crate train my puppy/dog?

Crate training, at any age, can help break bad habits and solve many problems.

Crate Training is one of the fastest and most humane methods of housebreaking a puppy/dog. Dogs by nature are animals that like a clean “home” and will not use a crate as a bathroom under normal circumstances. However, keeping a puppy/dog in a crate for hours and hours will not serve the purpose of housebreaking. Puppies need to go potty frequently and should not be forced to hold it for long periods of time. Older dogs can if necessary, hold it until you come home from work. Expecting your older dog to hold it for longer than nine or ten hour’s borders on the line of cruelty.

Many dogs enjoy their crates, but there are some dogs, especially dogs that suffer from separation anxiety that should not be crated. Crating a dog that has separation anxiety only increases the stress the dog feels and by doing so can create the beginnings of some major behavior problems. Talk to your vet or animal trainer about techniques you can use to help relieve your dog’s anxiety and stress before you start crate training.

Crate training is most effective when it isn't rushed. Crate training your dog is a crucial part of dog training and should be done with patience and care.

When you are at home with your puppy/dog keep him/her with you as much as possible. Keeping a leash on your puppy/dog while you are housebreaking and training it to have house manners is a good idea. The leash keeps the dog at your side so you can monitor housebreaking and correct unsatisfactory behavior.

Crates are beneficial in many ways; they give a puppy/dog a place to call their own. Dogs are creatures who enjoy a den like atmosphere. Toys and a few treats are nice and necessary additions to crate living. Leaving the door open at all times when you are home will give your dog a place to go if he/she is feeling stressful. Crates for puppies should be kept in a place where the puppy can see you and what you are doing. Do not use a crate as a prison or as a punishment for incorrect behavior. A crate should and must be a place the dog enjoys being in.

Choosing a trainer and obedience classes.

What should you look for in a trainer?

A good trainer is one who is willing to help you know your dog, and will teach you how to observe your dog for important clues into his/her behavior and actions. A good trainer will not say one breed is better than another is or that the dog he/she has is the best. A good trainer is one who will teach you to become the “trainer” of your dog.

When it comes to obedience training a certain amount of obedience training will help with behaviors.

For many pet owners, the behavior-oriented classes are the best way to learn how to understand and control your dog. You will need to modify your approach, or select atrainer to help you, with behavior versus obedience.

It is important to pick out a class and a trainer that teaches methods that you are comfortable with.

Whenever you are training your dog and it does not obey your command, take a deep breath, count to ten and start over again.

Do not and I repeat do not hit, beat or throw your dog because it did not obey your command. You would not mistreat a young child, treat your dog with the same respect. Dogs were not meant to understand English and long periods of training can lead to disinterest and boredom. Tomorrow is always another day

If all this sounds like too much work think about this, if you do not take the time to train your puppy/dog, it will gladly do it by itself. Dogs are very happy to do what dogs do and that is being a dog doing what nature intended them to be, undomesticated creatures.

I agree that dog obedience training will not solve all your dog’s behavior problems, but it is the foundation for solving most problems including soiling in your house, destroying your belongings, barking excessively, digging holes in your yard, fighting other dogs and even biting you.

Children and dogs

Children and puppies go together like ice cream and cake, but just not as smoothly.

Children need to be taught proper puppy/dog behavior as well as the puppy/dog needs to be taught. A toddler is not a good candidate for a puppy since neither the puppy nor the toddler has a good command of the English language.

Children need to be old enough to understand that playing with the puppy is play training for the dog. Children need to know that screaming, yelling, running, jumping, wrestling, teasing or taunting will raise a puppy’s excitement level and the puppy will not be able to control itself. When these behaviors are in place a puppy will bite, tear shirts, jump, and become uncontrollable through no fault of its own.

It is hard for children to understand that if the puppy as a baby jumps on them it is fun, but they soon find out, as the puppy becomes a young dog that a playful jump can hurt. The dog however, has learned that all these “bad” behaviors it did as a puppy were fun and now wants to do them all the time.

Enrolling in a puppy behavior class will help remedy some of these behaviors, but many will require a lot of additional training. That is why right from the day you bring your puppy/dog home, you need to begin the proper behavior training. Dogs are like children you can spoil them a bit, play with them, love them, but you need to teach them the rules for proper behavior. You would not let your child run wild, do not let your dog.

It is said that training puppies/dogs is easy, but training dog owners is very hard. Start learning about dog behavior and training before you bring your very first dog home. Research the breed you favor. Learn its characteristics and develop a plan to follow when you bring the little critter home.

Drs. Foster and Smith Inc.