Cumberland Times-News

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September 6, 2011

Pet Talk: Obedience training is recommended

It is a question many pet owners face: Does my dog need some obedience training?

“Yes, I recommend obedience training for all dogs, because not only does it help provide basic obedience and command recognition, it also helps bolster basic interactions between people and their pets,” Dr. Stacy Eckman, lecturer at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), says.

Eckman suggests that all dogs are good candidates for training school.

“Those who are generally more timid may become less fearful or shy around other animals and people after training,” Eckman says. “Those pets that are very boisterous may learn some.”

Obedience training now encompasses classes for dogs of all types, whether your dog is a puppy or needs training in a certain discipline. Classes today are not just for dogs that need correctional discipline due to an unruly attitude.

"Most of the classes focus on basic commands and communication between pets and humans, certainly not just for dogs that act out,” Eckman explains. “These classes are good socialization exercises also.”

Eckman adds, “There are ‘puppy’ classes that are offered that can be started when pets have a minimum number of vaccinations. These are great classes for learning interactions, potty training, etc. There are classes for all ages and stages, so they can start at any time.”

It is best to start at an early age, because it is much easier to establish consistent rules from the beginning than to go back and try to retrain an undesirable habit the dog has been allowed to develop. Once a behavior has developed, training takes longer.

Animal owners have recognized the importance of obedience training and have expressed a need to have opportunities to help train their animals. Therefore, there are many opportunities around the nation available for your dog to attend a class.

Before you choose your trainer you should follow a checklist. For instance, you should find out how long the person has been training, and how many animals has that trainer instructed. You should also ask them how they keep up with the current knowledge in the field.

One last item is to check their training method. Do they use toys and rewards, or do they verbally explain their disappointment to the effect that it can cause lasting damage to your dog. Then, research trainers in your area who follow the same philosophy that you prefer. After this, word of mouth is the best resource when finalizing your pet trainer.

“Once the basics of training are learned, these techniques can be applied at home and expounded on,” Eckman says. “Books can also offer great advice. Online information is also available, but I am skeptical of these due to the large amount of misinformation that can be given over the Internet.”

Owners should remember that dogs are all very different. It is important to understand the needs of your dog so you can match them with the best trainer. It is also important to be patient with your dog, as they all learn at different rates. If understanding, patience, and knowledge are in play, obedience training can be very rewarding for all dogs and owners.

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Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University.

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