Canine training is a compilation of four components: house training, obedience training, behavior modification, and social skills.
Let‘s start with house training. Taking your puppy out every hour or two may seem to be the most logical way to head off any pee or poo accidents inside your home. However, doing so will not teach your puppy to “hold it in” so when the time comes that you are not home for more than two hours, well…you know how that goes! Successful house training is done by using a schedule formulated especially for your puppy based on three to four days of logged events, as well as the household routine, setting up an appropriate area for your puppy that serves as his “room” and limiting areas of the house. The schedule consists of blocks of time that advise the pet parent as to when the puppy should go out, eat, drink, rest, have free play time, should be confined, and so forth. There are also numerous dos and don’t that can help speed the process of house training. This is best done by a professional trainer who has experience in creating a personalized house training schedule designed specifically for your family and dog, as each household, puppy, and daily routine is different. I offer ONLINE House Training for a fraction of what it would cost to have in-home visits and it would be the same process.
Obedience and behavior modification should be done concurrently. Let’s look at each individually and then you will understand why an experienced trainer will know when to do what.
Obedience training is teaching commands such as sit, stay, heel, no pulling on leash, come-when-called, down, go-to-place, not running through the door, wait, easy, turn, in, out, and off, for example. Obedience training is what I consider to be mechanical. I say a command and the dog does it. Easy peasy, plain and simple.
Behavior modification is a process of conditioning until the desired result is achieved. For example, if a dog is jumping on me, I will back up and say “NO” “Sit” and when the dog sits, I will pet him. If I continue to not pet the dog unless he is sitting, then I’m conditioning him to demonstrate the appropriate behavior if he wants me to pet him. It’s the pet parents’ job to make sure that the puppy is taught appropriate and acceptable behavior and should start from day one. An experienced trainer/behaviorist will initiate and teach pet parents proper play methods and the handling of a puppy in order to put them on the right track. Some of these methods will also prevent unwanted aggression and head off anxieties that can manifest into huge behavioral issues. Canine aggression, anxiety, and other undesirable behaviors can be instituted, validated, amplified, and accelerated by incorrect interactions between human and canine.
Most pet parents would agree that social skills develop as the puppy is introduced to the outside world, usually around 16 weeks of age when the puppy has finished a series of vaccines. However, that is the third part of the social development of your puppy. The first element in the development of your pup’s social skills starts even before the pet parent adopts their puppy. Social know-how first begins with the interaction between mother dogs, litter puppies, other pups and dogs in the breeding household, and the humans that care for them. The second part of social maturity is honed by the environmental tone of your household and will have the biggest impact on your dog’s disposition, temperament, and social grace; basically, his personality. The window of time for shaping his skills starts when he’s very young. The longer you wait to train your puppy, especially when there are issues like jumping and biting, the more you are allowing, validating, and condoning those behaviors.
To me, as a professional trainer, Dog training is better described as teaching dogs and pet parents to live together in a more compatible, congruous relationship. In simple terms, teaching the pack; human and canine, to tune into each and learn how to get along better!
To sum it up, obedience training is just not enough and if you want a truly enjoyable canine family member, you need to address and understand canine behavior and social skills as well. A really good dog trainer will teach the dog and the family to live together in harmony. That’s really is the crux of it!
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