, Salem, MA


April 5, 2013

Vet Connection: Behavior training for pets — and humans


The basics

Some of the most basic behaviors are taught in family behavior classes. These behaviors must be reinforced throughout the dog’s life to maintain the training. Positive reinforcement can be the word good, a click, eye contact and/or a tiny food treat and should be varied.

1. Come when called. This must be practiced with your dog on a leash (usually a really long one) everywhere you go with your dog.

2. Sit and/or Down. This gets your dog anchored to one spot.

3. Stay. Practicing this helps your dog learn composure and remain calm.

4. Walk on a loose lead. Trainers argue about what is the best collar. Currently, harnesses are considered the best. Head halters are also popular, as they prevent your dog from putting pressure with the shoulders and dragging you, as an ox would pull its yoke. Whichever you use, it is rendered useless if your dog is constantly dragging you forward on it. Training to a loose lead involves keeping the dog’s attention on the owner for direction/attention/treats. Handling the leash loose prevents injuries to the owner (dislocated shoulders for instance) and the dog, abraded skin, and fur loss.

5. House-training. Lack of proper house-training is a major cause of small dogs losing their homes. Possibly, you are satisfied with pee pads for your small dog, but frequently, the small dog will extrapolate to think it is OK to urinate other locations in the house, such as rugs. Contemplate how you will feel about this in the future and think about what your dog’s chances are of being re-homed if not trained. The habits a dog forms when someone is too busy to train it take some time to change, especially if they have been ingrained during puppyhood.

6. The ability to rest calmly. This includes in a safe, confined area, whether it is a crate or room. Crates are best, as they are needed for transport for travel in car or air.

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