BASIC OBEDIENCE TRAINING FOR YOUR DOG
Working with your canine companion on having good manners can be the best way to get your new friend off to the right start. Pets and people speak different languages, and closing that verbal gap can be difficult, especially in cases where pets exhibit undesirable behaviors that result in stress and frustration. Manners training provides pet owners with the tools necessary to successfully help their furry friends become well-rounded individuals. Training also helps owners build a lifelong bond with their pet. We offer advice on choosing a suitable trainer for your pet’s needs, whether it’s basic obedience commands or working with unwanted or destructive behavior.
The most critical part of starting a behavior or manners program with your dog is choosing the right trainer. We encourage owners to be active participants in this decision and to ask questions. What kind of training do they provide and what methods do they use? What are their qualifications/experience? Be sure to look for CPDT certification of trainers. This means they are certified by the Council of Professional Dog Trainers. Does their end goal for behavior modification match your goals? Sometimes it’s helpful to observe a Manners class without your dog and see how the other people and dogs are enjoying it.
One thing we always ask people to be looking for in a trainer is someone who uses “positive reinforcement”. Positive reinforcement has been shown to have the best training results and the best outcome when it comes to forming a bond with your dog. With this training, unwanted or “bad” behaviors are ignored (never punished!) and wanted or “good” behaviors are rewarded. This leads to a high likelihood of the dog repeating to good behaviors because it wants a reward. Bad behaviors are diminished because they are ignored. According to a behavioral guidelines checklist published by Utah State University, positive reinforcement is most effective when it occurs immediately after the behavior, such as giving your puppy a treat the moment he goes potty outside. The guidelines also recommend that the reinforcement be presented enthusiastically and frequently.
Here at Best Friends we provide a variety of products designed to help work with training and for altering behavior, such as Gentle Leaders and EZ Walk Harnesses. Gentle Leaders have been shown to help with taking active, unruly dogs for calmer, more relaxing walks. The Gentle Leader works like a head halter, similar to those for horses or livestock, and effectively leads them around in the same manner. If they pull, their head will move to one side, teaching them that pulling will only turn them around, not help them get somewhere faster. EZ Walk harnesses work in much the same way but as a harness with a front clasp where the leash is hooked, rather than the leash hooking to a halter. Once again, the dog pulls, he gets turned around, and he learns in a nice way that pulling is not allowed.
A final word of advice from our staff is to watch out for trainers using “old fashioned” methods such as prong-collars, choke chains, and punishment based forms of training. There has been a plethora of research in the past decade that shows no benefit to this form of “training” and repeated punishment often drives a painful wedge between dog and human that progressively divides and destroys the pet-owner relationship