We all know that training a puppy takes time, patience, consistency, and perseverance. Additionally, teaching your puppy behavior commands will help create an obedient and well-behaved dog. But there are a lot of other reasons why puppy behavior training is really important! This week, we have put together a list of some of those other reasons why all that effort matters – for your puppy, and for you!
- Safety for your dog: An obedient dog comes to you when called. Let’s say your dog pulls out of his leash and runs directly toward the street (and there is an approaching vehicle). If you call your dog and he understands the command, this can keep him from running out into the street and getting injured.
- Safety for people: An obedient dog can sit calmly for someone to pet her instead of jumping up on a person (potentially knocking them over or accidentally scratching them).
- Enrichment for your dog: Dogs enjoy interacting with owners. A behavior training session is the perfect opportunity for some one-on-one time for dogs and owners! You may even notice your dog anticipating the training time if you hold the session around the same time each day.
- Enhancement of the Human-Animal Bond: Time spent with your dog doing positive and enjoyable activities can only add to the relationship you are building with your pet. Furthermore, having an obedient dog means less stress about your dog doing things he is not supposed to – because he knows better!
- Distraction from anxiety: If you find yourself in a situation where your dog seems anxious, you can utilize behavior commands as a distraction. Do you have a dog who seems nervous at the veterinary clinic? Then the next time you come, bring his or her favorite treat and have him or her perform commands for treat rewards. This can help get your dog’s mind off being nervous.
- Socialization: Puppy classes are an excellent idea to help reinforce behavior training. Not only do puppies have to learn to perform the commands in a distracting environment (there are other puppies and people around!), training classes also give you the perfect opportunity to socialize your puppy. Socializing puppies during their socialization window (which lasts up until about 16 weeks of age) sets them up to be more tolerant to a variety of things (people, cats, other dogs, children, noises, etc.) when they grow up.
- Helping to Reduce Behavioral Problems: If behavioral problems arise, behavioral commands can be a helpful tool in working through those problems. For example, a puppy who is jumping up on visitors can be told ‘No’, and then the puppy can be redirected into performing a ‘sit’. Once the puppy does the appropriate behavior, she can be praised.
- Understanding: Training puppies will give them an understanding of what is, and what is not, acceptable. For example, chewing is a normal behavior for puppies. However, play-biting humans is not acceptable. Saying ‘No’, and then redirecting the chewing towards an appropriate chewing item (chew toy), helps your puppy understand appropriate times to display “normal” behaviors.
- Fun: While behavior training is truly about a lot more than fun party tricks, you do get to show off your puppy’s efforts! It’s hard for people to resist getting excited about a puppy who performs tricks on command!
Are you ready to get started with your puppy’s behavior training? Then begin with basic commands such as ‘sit’, ‘stay’, ‘come’, ‘heel’, and ‘down’. From there, get creative! The more you practice the commands with your puppy, the better they will become at performing the command. Don’t just practice at home. Use the commands on walks, car rides, visits to the pet store, trips to the dog park, in the veterinary clinic, etc. Outside the home you will likely find that your puppy is more easily distracted. Using these opportunities to work on the commands will really help solidify the training with your puppy.
Is your puppy having trouble with behavior training? Then give us a call today! We want to work with you to help your puppy in whatever ways are needed.
Author: Dr. Clarissa Noureddine, DVM, MS, MS