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How to know when your Dog needs Training

For anyone that hasn't yet dabbled in puppy or dog training, we're sure you've asked yourself - "So, why is dog training so important?"

Training is an essential part of owning a dog and can be started at any age. Training, if done right, builds confidence, provides mental stimulation and strengthens the bond between them and you/your family.

Dogs are always learning. It is never too late to start training. Don't listen to the proven myth that dogs need to be trained when they're puppies, or it's too late.

Getting right into it, dogs that have anxiety or more timid personalities can benefit from training. It provides a sense of accomplishment and provides a way for us to communicate with our much-loved pups. This strengthens the bond we have with our dogs through positive attention - something we at the Town House pride ourselves on. Plus, they can spend time with us, which let's be honest, is what most dogs want, to be close to us.

Mental stimulation is another vital part of a dog’s overall well-being and happiness. It is just as vital as daily physical exercise. When it is too cold or rainy outside, going through basic training skills indoors can be the exercise our bored dogs need. Or if your dog must limit exercise due to an injury or after a surgery, mental stimulation is necessary to keep them occupied. Another tip is to take a different route when going for a walk. The new (or rarely seen) route will engage your pup more and give them stimulation that they won't get from their regular route or routine.

Will training make my dog behave better?

Loaded question, we know. Sometimes it's challenging for our dogs to understand what we are asking of them. This can cause frustration for both us and our dogs, which is very normal but we recommend knowing this upfront and to have patience. Typically, what we think of as “bad” behavior is really....well, normal dog behavior. These may include chewing on things or digging.

They explore their environment by using their noses, mouths and paws. If these normal behaviors are not used in an appropriate way, they can lead to trouble. Note: Dogs will learn to do things when people are not around. Dogs have no concept of right or wrong, or time even. It is up to us to teach our dogs what is “right.” If a dog is taught to chew on toys, they'll will look for these instead of something like, I don't know, your shoe! The key is consistency and reinforcement. Keep it positive and try to make it fun (e.g. treats!).

When is a good time to consider training?

In an ideal world, when starting with a puppy, it is recommended to start socializing and training them as soon as you get them home. Some experts recommend waiting until the puppy has completed their vaccine series. But, we know that this is too late. When puppies are between the ages of 6 to 16 week's old, they are in an ideal developmental stage - exploring new people, new dogs, cats, locations, etc.

Enrolling your puppy in a socialization class will help with both socializing and beginning early training process. Young dogs go through an adolescent phase between 8 – 18 months and socializing & training them can be important tools to keep your dog friendly and happy as they go through those teenage years.

A new pet needs to fit in with your family’s lifestyle as seamlessly as possible. And of course, it’s best to avoid any potentially dangerous pet or aggressive dog breeds who don’t get along with children. Take a look at your schedules, whether it's your current situation or in the near future. For instance, if you're going back to work after a parental leave, you'll need to plan ahead for not just your child, but your pet (your other child).

Now, you may be thinking that "Hey, my dog knows basic commands, so why would I need to train him or her?" Great question - As an example, if you recently adopted an adult dog or have had a dog for several years, training is possible and could be beneficial for both of you. Obedience is the most common training people are aware of. There is also training for agility, nose work, therapy dog training, dock diving, among other types. If your dog has mastered sit and stay, it may be good to try something new. Contrary to the saying, you CAN teach an old dog new tricks!

When you properly train your dog, you’re giving it the skills it needs to live peacefully among humans and other animals. You might think that domestic dogs have easy lives compared to how they’d live in the wild. But living in a human household puts pressure on your dog that it needs to learn to deal with.

Failure to properly train your dog could result in destructive behaviors. For example, they could become anxious and chew up your furniture when you’re not around. Or they could also behave aggressively towards people or other pets.

Your Dog will behave when left alone.

We thought this one was a good topic to close with, since we know anxiety can go both ways - they're anxious maybe because you left for school or work. You're anxious because you're worried about the couch being chewed up maybe. One of the most difficult parts of owning a dog can be leaving them on their own. It’s inevitable that you’ll have to leave your dog home alone at some point. When that time comes, you need to be able to trust that they’ll behave properly.

Dogs that haven’t been properly trained might bark and howl for hours on end or they might chew up anything they can get their paws on. Not only can this sort of behavior be very costly, but it can also result in noise complaints being filed against you.

When a dog engages in these kinds of behaviors, it means they’re not in a good state of mind. When you train your dog well from an early age, it reinforces good patterns of behavior and reduces separation anxiety.

In the majority of cases, a dog that misbehaves when it’s left on its own can be taught to act correctly with the right kind of obedience training.

Please reach out to Town House for Dogs and Cats to schedule an initial consultation on puppy/dog training. Or, please call us for more information or make your appointment today.

As always, thanks for being a member of our Town House.

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