January is National Dog Training Month.Did you ever enviously watch those well trained dogs on television and in movies while your dog jumps on everyone, barks excessively or begs for food? Behavior problems are a significant reason for pets being surrendered to shelters. The majority of these pets end up euthanized, which is thousands of dogs a year. As all of you pet owners know, dogs live to please you but they may not always get it right. By giving clear, consistent directions and cues, and positive reinforcement you can go a long way in changing that perception. Here are some simple tips to follow:
- Know your dog: What is truly a reward for him- treats, praise, a good brushing?
- Be clear: State the command in the same way every time.
- Be consistent: For example, if she is not allowed to jump on people then don’t let her do it with anyone. Same for feeding at the table.
- Use positive commands: Instead of saying “no” for an undesirable behavior, tell the dog what to do. So when he jumps on someone, tell him “sit” instead of “no”.
- Reward her good behavior every time.
- Schedules: Dogs love consistency. Keep to their schedule as much as possible to lessen anxiety, which is an underlying cause of many behavior problems.
- Simple things everyday: Train your dog to look to you for cues. Teach your dog a sit command before every interaction. This simple technique helps tremendously for those unexpected situations like jumping or running away.
- Learn to ignore: Some behaviors, like mouthing, are best ignored. If your pet starts to engage in this then end the interaction by giving her an appropriate chew toy and walk away.
- Be positive: Dogs sense our displeasure. Make training a happy and rewarding time.
- Seek professional guidance when needed: Some behavior problems such as severe anxiety or aggression need the expertise of a behaviorist. Speak to one of our vets (change to doctors or veterinarians) here at Mount Laurel Animal Hospital to help advise you in these situations.
So train your pet as it helps save lives and will be so rewarding for both of you. Get the family involved too and you will find a happier pet and lifelong rewards.