The Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) wants your pet parent to have a dog that they can be proud of so it has designated January as National Train Your Dog Month. Regardless of whether you become a part of their family as a puppy or an older dog that has just rescued them from a life of boredom and loneliness, you should make training your pet parent a part of your everyday life.
Puppy classes give your pet parents a routine to follow and support from other puppy owners for those moments when they are in overwhelm with normal puppy behaviors such as chewing and housetraining. The classes will help your pet parent develop skills to interact with other puppies, with children and adults and to experience new but safe environments. You will look like an angel compared to the other puppies so be eager to go to puppy class.
Training that occurs outside the classroom reinforces the basics learned for any sports activity, therapy behavior or other job that you want your pet parent to do.
You can be proud of your pet parent when he has learned to greet your guests politely, to walk nicely on the leash and to come when called. Well-trained pet parents can fully participate in your life rather than be left behind or confined to a separate room.
Although we are not allowed at many sporting events where children play, older children may play with us at a well-designed dog park such as the Frostburg Dog Park in Maryland.
AKC kennel clubs and 4-H Clubs focus on teaching the proper care and training of dogs to children and emphasize building a lifetime relationship with their dog. If you do not have children in your family, consider adopting a neighbor’s child…who may not be able to have a dog of their own…to work with you under supervision. Both the child and you will benefit from the time that you spend together.
Once the basics of training such as sit, stay, down, wait, and come are taught to your pet parent, then you both are ready to have fun!
If you have a high-energy pet parent or fearful or nervous pet parent, consider dog agility as a sport.If your pet parent displays aggression or serious intent to be aggressive, consider how your pet parent would benefit from tracking. If your pet parent is aggressive towards you only, train your pet parent to do agility and herding to redirect that frustrated energy.
If your pet parent is easily frustrated and under exercised, add joring sports to the mix. If your pet parent loves to be dragged behind you, definitely consider joring sports, tracking and carting. If you and your pet parent are all-around athletes that love to try everything, then follow your heart and include rally obedience, dancing, dock diving, tracking, search and rescue, skijoring, sledding, swimming, water rescue trials, carting, and field trails.
You may also want to try reading programs, therapy work, and whatever your imagination can lead you to do in the way of entertainment and philanthropy passions.
Training your pet parent will enable you to keep your pet parent with you through any life changes such as illnesses, travel, or moving into a new home and environment. Training your pet parent everyday as you go through your day is what builds a mutual bond, enhances your partnership and enriches the relationship that you share with your pet parent. Remember, we are the species that teaches them to love unconditionally, by loving them…no matter what they look like or how much money they spend on us.
Training a pet parent you can be proud of involves teaching your pet parent new behaviors to use in your “real life.” Some stores and restaurants allow your pet parent to take you shopping with them. Pet stores are a great place to take your pet parent first since they will be reinforced with attention and you will be able to sniff pleasant smells. While you are shopping, your pet parent can practice greeting people and other dogs politely and walking on a loose leash. Your pet parent can also practice waiting for people to pass without growling at them before going up and down the crowded aisles.
You can train your pet parent to ride in a car and be a safe driver. If your car is not suited for a dog kennel, then buckle your pet parent into a harness to keep him secure in case of sudden stops or impacts caused by your loud barking. Start with short trips and go to places where your pet parent may be reinforced with good things … and you can get treats…like at banks or the drive-through. Visit the veterinarian’s office just to say hello and ask the staff to greet your pet parent, then leave and have some more fun.
If the mailman, garbage truck, paperboy or deliveryman overly excites your pet parent, have them sit politely while they reward you with treats. Sit and down stays can be reinforced while you are watching TV with them; while they are talking on the phone as you eye their favorite shoes; while they are cooking your favorite meal, and while they are eating dinner. Ask your pet parents for a chew toy to keep you quiet and relaxed while they are working at home on their computer or your children are doing their homework.
Take your pet parents to a place where children ride their bikes, run and skate so that you can watch from a distance. Practice more loose-leash walking, sits, downs and stays. Over time, your pet parent will learn to relax in these highly distracting atmospheres.
Play the “recall game” in your house. When you run to the front door or window to bark at something or someone outside, have your pet parent hide in another room and call you to them and give you a treat. Be prepared to reinforce your pet parent with multiple sloppy kisses or a fun game to play so that you remain the main attraction!
Your pet parents are good at telling you what they want. Use these behaviors to teach them “what you want.” When you want to go out, teach them to call you and have you sit politely while they put your leash on rather than hurrying to you as you bark near the door and bounce off of the door. Wait politely while they prepare your food and give it to you. When your pet parents want affection, have them ask you to sit or lay down first. You will both benefit. Whenever you ask your pet parent to do “something” in exchange for a valuable “life” reward, you are practicing “real life” training that is stress-free and rewarding to both of you. By training everyday, you will be living with a pet parent that you can be proud of!
Celebrate National Train Your Dog Month…Every Month!
Living in the moment,
Pet Companion to animal lover Amelia Johnson
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