From potty training a puppy to getting a distracted pooch to walk nicely on a leash and everything in between – there are lots of potential frustrations and pitfalls when it comes to dog training and behavior. In extreme cases, frustrations can lead to pets getting surrendered to an animal shelter, so I’ve put together some tips and resources to help dog parents before they find themselves in dire circumstances.
- Veterinary Priority: Always start with a veterinary check. An annual exam is important, but pet owners should also schedule an appointment if they see any changes in behavior. For example, if your friendly dog has been socializing with furry friends for years, but suddenly snaps at another pooch during playtime – you’ll want to rule out pain before looking at other potential issues. Your best friend can’t tell you if s/he is starting to feel some painful arthritis.
- Stay Patient and Positive: Patience and consistency are keys in training. Setbacks are bound to happen and when they do, avoid projecting emotions onto your pet. Dogs do not want to dominate or be your alpha and they don’t have accidents in the house out of spite. I recently had the honor of interviewing two renowned pet behavior experts, Ken Ramirez and Steve Dale. Watch this brief video to see what Ken and Steve have to say about training dogs.
- FREE Behavior Hotline: Not sure what to do about your pet’s behavior? Help is just a phone call (or an email) away. To help keep cats and dogs in loving forever homes, The Anti-Cruelty Society provides a free behavior hotline. These folks are awesome (their office is just down the hall from mine and they’ve given me lots of helpful advice). Call (312) 644-8338 ext. 315 OR ext. 343, or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. www.anticruelty.org/behaviorhotline
- Classes: There are many types of dog training classes and instructors out there. To learn a little about the differences, check out this article I wrote for Tails Inc.. Aggressive dogs should not be brought to group classes, and remember that training is just as much about strengthening a positive bond between dog and owner, so choose to take a class with your pup over paying a service that offers to take the dog away and bring it back trained. Association of Pet Dog Trainers is good resource to find a class near you. Ask to visit a class before signing up, ensure the instructor only uses positive reinforcement, and look for lots of wagging tails and smiling faces.
- Expert Lecture: On Thursday July 11th, Patricia McConnel,l Ph.D. is coming to The Anti-Cruelty Society. You can register to attend “Both Ends of the Leash” and learn first-hand from a world-renowned pet behavior expert.
Whether you want to read an article, write an email to an expert, talk on a hotline, watch a video segment, or attend a class or lecture - there is an option to suit everyone.
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