Dog training is about more than just teaching your dog to ‘sit’, ‘stay’, and ‘come here’. Instead, and when done right, dog training is the foundation for the relationship you and your pet will have for years to come. Good dog training should focus on opening the lines of communication between you and your pet, regardless of age, and establishing you as the top dog in your family pack so that your dog knows how to keep you happy.
Starting Puppies Off Right
One of the most common questions we hear from new puppy owners is “when is the ideal time to start puppy training?” Puppies, by nature, are designed to follow the leader of their pack, and that leader should be you. This means that as soon as you bring your new puppy home, you should be working to establish yourself as the top dog in the house, and leading your dog toward the “right” behaviors through example and positive reinforcement.
If your puppy was old enough to be adopted, he or she is old enough to start learning basic obedience rules in the home – and already is learning, whether you know it or not. Talk with your veterinarian during your puppy’s first checkup to determine when to join a puppy training class. In addition to what you’re teaching your puppy at home, training classes can provide excellent educational opportunities for both owners and puppies, and beneficial socialization time for puppies.
You Can Teach a Dog New Tricks at Any Age
The old adage that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks simply isn’t true. Adult and senior dogs can do just as well as younger dogs in obedience classes, especially when they are accompanied by a patient and loving owner.
Older dogs can overcome “bad” behaviors with practice, but it is important to set reasonable expectations when training adult and senior dogs. Just like us, it takes time to correct bad behaviors that have developed over the years. Slow and steady is the way to go with adult and senior pets, especially for those that are new to your home or with no prior obedience training.
If your adult or senior dog starts exhibiting “bad” behaviors that were not a problem before, make an appointment for a check-up with your veterinarian before jumping into a training class.
Often, physical and psychological issues associated with aging can cause behavior problems to appear, seemingly overnight.
Can Bad Behavior Really Be Fixed by Dog Training?
One of the main reasons dogs end up in shelters is due to behavior problems. The good news is, the vast majority of behavior problems are possible to correct. Common behavior problems addressed in training can include:
- Excessive barking
- Potty issues
- Overly rough playing
- Bad leash manners
- Not coming when called
Being persistent, consistent, and patient is key to correcting problem behavior. A professional trainer will work with you to assess your dog’s behavior problems, possible triggers for the bad behavior, and work with you on how to better communicate with your dog.
The earlier you can begin dog training, the easier it will be. Dogs can learn at any age, so it is never “too late” to address any problems with your pet’s behavior.
With the help of a veterinarian and trainer, you and your pet can overcome most behavior problems, regardless of their root cause. If you have any questions about your dog’s behavior, or have noticed any sudden changes that don’t align with your pet’s usual personality, please give us a call.
And remember; at heart, all dogs are good dogs – or, at least, they want to be.