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Posts Tagged ‘socialization; dog body language; positive training; good manners’

Why training matters

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

My puppy classes were inspired by the number of adolescent dogs I encounter as a shelter volunteer and a trainer of client dogs in their homes. Many dogs are in shelters because they lack good manners, are bored and, therefore, destructive in the home. Cute puppies, lacking training and proper socialization, become a nuisance in the home and are relinquished. They are very difficult to place in a new home because their impulsive behaviors make a poor “first impression”. Acquiring a puppy comes with a great deal of responsibility for a life which may span decades.

My puppy classes include an initial, private consultation either in your home or at my training center, to determine your training goals and any current challenges which you may be having. The six weeks of training are in a very small, no more than four, class with puppies from 8 – 20 weeks, who have all vaccinations appropriate to their age. Several orchestrated “play times” are included in each class session. The training accomplishes valuable basic behaviors: sit, down, go to your mat, wait, proper leash walking, proper greeting, trade (to peacefully retreive a valued or dangerous object) leave it, (to cue pup NOT to pick up an object) and coming when called (recall).. All of these behaviors are taught in a common scenario: visit to the vet, groomer, outdoor cafe (we even do a “field trip”). Pups become accustomed to handling by the owner and other class attendees. They get to practice appropriate play behaviors with other pups. Owners learn to identify appropriate play behaviors and when and how to intervene. All training is positive, reward based; punishment is neither used, nor necessary to accomplish solid, consistent behaviors.
How Much Is That Doggy in the Window was the title of a popular song many years ago.. As the popularity of having dog companions has remained constant, even increased, the answer is increasingly complex. Appropriately, we concern ourselves with our dogs physical needs: health and nutrition, providing a rich and stimulating environment, and teaching behaviors that establish a foundation of mutual understanding and acceptance. There are many medical interventions available, including holistic veterinary practices which minimize invasive and chemical responses to ailments and injuries. We invest our dollars as well as our emotions in our beloved pets. A puppy may easily be a part of our lives for decades. The most important initial investment we can make in our puppy’s life and the quality and joy of our companionship is training and proper socialization.
Establishing a foundation of solid good manners behaviors, as well as early sociaiization, are critical components of a relationship which will be a joy for years. Through training we establish a common understanding of what is expected, acceptablie behavior. We are clear, consistent and kind in achieving training goals. We don’t establish who is the “alpha” in our relationship. We are companions one to the other. Yelling, punishing, use of training “devices” such as painful collars, and electronic gimmicks, are neither useful or effective, over time. We establish “leadership” through consistent, clear instructions, either verbal or physical cues that we have diligently trained and rewarded. Dogs love to learn and training together solidifies our relationship with our dog companions. The more they train, the more they appear capable of learning. The more we train, the more observant we are of our dog’s body language and what motivates his responses.
Establishing a foundation of appropriate socialization and good manners enables our well mannered dog to travel with us, enjoy family outings, receive visitors in our home, courteously, and be a great ambassador for pet ownership.

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