Humane Society of Elmore County News – 11 Jan ‘21
The American Veterinary Medical Association shows January as both National Train Your Dog Month and Walk Your Pet Month. Those two certainly go hand-in-hand as who wants to walk a dog that wants to drag you down the street the entire time!
We can say that one big reason dogs are surrendered to Shelters is because they need training which has resulted in them not getting enough exercise, hence a frustrated dog with no manners. Since January is month us humans tend to try and start exercise programs, why not add your dog to the program – good for you and good for them! With just a little work your dog can happily be your walking/hiking/jogging partner so you can both get in shape together. Bottom line is a tired dog is a more well-mannered dog so it is a win-win for both of you.
Teaching your dog to walk or run with you on a leash, to not jump and just to have basic nice manners is not rocket science though if owning a dog is new to you, then you might want to seek a professional trainer. Our dogs simply love making us happy so think reward for when they do what you want as they will quickly figure out what makes you happy.
Some dogs are motivated by treats (use a treat they do not get at any other time and small so they don’t stop to chew), others are motivated by toys, and others just by your praise. Dogs understand clear, concise commands and most owners simply talk too much so the dog is confused and has no idea what is being asked of it. This is why a professional trainer can take your dog from you and in five minutes likely have it responding to commands. A good trainer simply knows how to clearly communicate with your dog. Kind of “OH, THAT is what you want me to do!” In reality – training a dog is about 75% training the owner as to how to effectively communicate with their own pet.
Of course, our dogs are as different as we are so some pick up on lessons quickly while others take a bit longer. Knowing your dog’s attention span is very important as one dog may work great for 15 minutes before losing interest and for another 5 minutes is all they can give you before they simply tune out. Some are quicker on the uptake than others and knowing what really makes your dog tick also makes a big difference. Does your dog respond to treats? Or toys? Or clicks or whistles? Every dog is different so finding what gets their undivided attention can greatly improve the chance of training success.
One caution – some folks think they can send their dog ‘off’ to a trainer and they will come back and be the perfect dog – NOT. Remember – you, the owner, are a HUGE part of the training process and you have to also learn how to communicate what you want so your dog will understand. You can send a dog to a trainer but part of that will also be YOU spending time with your dog AND the trainer so the dog trainer can train YOU, the owner.
Training of any kind takes patience and perseverance on everyone’s part, and it never really ends. Refresher training should honestly take place throughout your dog’s life – for both of you! A professional golfer isn’t successful only playing golf during tournaments – they practice, and get coaches, and research and practice more – true success entails dedication!
So get out those comfy walking or running shoes, teach your dog first how to walk nicely on a leash, and start out 2021 with daily nice long walks/runs with your dog – the reward will be a tired and better behaved dog, and perhaps a more fit and more relaxed YOU as well!
Rea Cord, M.S.
Humane Society of Elmore County
255 Central Plank Rd
Wetumpka, AL 36092
“Each of us can only do the best we can for as many as we can and that will never be good enough for those of us who care!”