By Pia Silvani, CPDT-KA, CCBC
The connection we share with our dogs is very different from the other relationships we have in our lives. When we first bring our dogs home (either as puppies or adults) our goal is to bond and have an everlasting wonderful relationship. Yet, we don’t speak the same language. How can we be assured that the puppy or dog we adopt will listen to, bond and enjoy life with us?
The answer is Training! The other part is Trust! Training builds and fosters the relationship between you and your dog and when done in a humane manner, helps develop trust. Training helps guide the dog and offers him a direction. Through training, you learn how to communicate with your dog and your dog learns that cooperating with you brings about good things in life for him. Trained dogs love to learn and once you get them on the learning track, they become hooked and so will you.
When should you start? Right now! It doesn’t matter if you have a puppy or an adult dog. If you haven’t taken your best friend to a training class, then you are missing out on some wonderful, memorable moments together. I can’t imagine not being able to take my dogs to the beach, on a hike through the woods, or to an outdoor café, simply because I was afraid that they would run off or embarrass me by their behavior. Friends go places together; do things together and enjoy each other’s company. By taking your puppy or dog through classes, you will benefit from receiving top notch instruction from educated trainers who will coach you through a process to help enhance the bond between you and your canine companion.
Be Proactive not Reactive. Focus on being proactive by rewarding positive behavior as opposed to reacting when you are not pleased with what your dog is doing. Too much reactivity leads to stress. Your trainer will help you learn how to prevent problems from starting. If you have problems, your trainer will help you correct them to avoid frustration.
Have Patience. Training takes time and is a learning process for your dog and may be for you too, if you haven’t previously trained a dog. During the learning stage, your dog will make mistakes. It is critical, to enhance learning, that you forgive and forget these mistakes and focus on helping him achieve his fullest potential. When you see results, you will be motivated to continue and understand why training is so beneficial. Our goal is to make sure you are satisfied while making it easy and enjoyable for both of you!
Make it Fun. Training should be challenging, but it certainly shouldn’t be frustrating. It should be fun for both you and your dog. We have found that reward-based training methods are enjoyable for both of you. The dog enjoys learning and the owner enjoys teaching.
If you consistently expect your dog to listen and behave, especially through the teenage years, eventually your dog will become an adult - - a trained adult - - and the years that you will spend with him until he is a senior will be the best years of your life!