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Training Your Dog

dog training - CRYROLFE.jpg
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The dog's focus on its owner shows great communication between them!

January is National Train Your Dog Month.  It’s a great time to consider training your dog, especially if you have a new pet in your household.  Plus, January is often a time for New Year’s resolutions and having a well-behaved pet is a great goal.

     So what is the purpose for training a dog?  It is about more than just teaching your buddy to do tricks.  It can help your furry friend be a better pet and help you understand your pet better.  In fact, the interaction can strengthen the bond between you.  In some situations it could also save your pet’s life, such as having a dog that obeys the command to ‘stay’ instead of running out into a busy street.

     Training is really about building communication with your best friend.  There are some behaviors that are natural for dogs – like digging, barking, chewing, chasing.  There is nothing wrong with any of that – but depending on the situation, that may be inappropriate behavior for your pet.  So, it’s up to you to let your furry friend know when to bark and when to be quiet, or when or what to chase versus stopping on command.

     Remember that training is less about teaching and more about helping your dog learn and understand what you want.  That’s why punishment is rarely successful in building a positive relationship when training your pet.  You might look for a class in your community where you can go with your dog, so both of you can learn together.  Or find a dog trainer who will give you and your pet one-on-one lessons.  There are even online classes and resources available.

     Helping your best friend understand what it can do to please you is at the heart of good dog training.  It builds trust and strengthens the bond between human and animal, which is at the heart of the relationship we all want with our four-footed friends, when we’re speaking of pets.

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Mindy Norton has been “Speaking of Pets” on Alabama Public Radio since 1995.