If you’ve recently added a puppy or dog to your family, consider obedience training to help build a healthy relationship between you and your pet. Though training your dog requires patience and commitment, the positive benefits of obedience training are worth it.
Kit , Infection Control Coordinator for the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, said there are many benefits of obedience training, including building a closer, positive relationship with your dog, teaching your dog life and social skills, and helping prevent your dog from developing unwanted behaviors. Additionally, Darling said a dog that will come when called may help avoid life threating situations, such as being hit by a car or having a bad encounter with another animal.
Though obedience training has many benefits, dog owners may wonder how long the training process can take. According to Darling, the answer depends on what your goals are for the dog. To teach your dog basic manners, such as to sit, come, or stay, a basic level obedience class may be the best choice.
“Most of the basic level obedience classes are six to eight weeks,” Darling said. “Each class is about an hour long, and training sessions at home may be as short as five to 10 minutes a couple times a day, four to five times a week.”
In addition to basic level obedience classes, there are also intermediate and advanced classes, Darling said. But in order to teach your dog even the most basic commands, positive reinforcement is a must. Giving your dog treats is one of the most common ways to motivate your dog to learn new commands, but other forms of positive reinforcement, such as clickers, can be used as well.
“It is important to find out what motivates your dog and to use it as a positive reward during training,” Darling said. “Clickers may be used to mark the wanted behavior and then the dog can be rewarded with treats, a toy, or praise.”
Additionally, Darling said if you choose to use food or treats as a reward, it is best not to feed your dog close to training time. Your training lesson will be most effective if your dog has an appetite so they can choose a treat they really like.
If you decide to enroll your dog in obedience training, it is important to choose a trainer and training program that you are comfortable with. This could require some research, but Darling said your friends, veterinarian, humane society, groomer, and boarding facility may have good recommendations.
Some questions you should ask yourself when searching for a good obedience trainer and program include: What type of training is offered? Do they train the dog with or without you? Are there group classes, private instructors, or both? What type of training methods are used? What are the trainer’s credentials? Furthermore, if it is a training facility, be sure to check for cleanliness and vaccination requirements before enrolling your dog into class. If possible, Darling said to observe a class to see if the trainers, dogs, and clients are happy during training.
If you have recently adopted or purchased a new dog, or want to polish Fido’s basic obedience skills, obedience training is a great way to train your dog while also building a healthy relationship. Though obedience training requires patience and dedication, the benefits of a well-behaved dog are endless.
“One of the best things you can do for your puppy or dog and yourself is obedience training,” Darling said. “The experience is worthwhile and can help you raise a happy, well-adjusted companion.”
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