Sunday, January 4, 2015

January is Train Your Dog Month

Of all the dogs at Oak Valley, I am the only one that Mom actually paid money for.  The rest of our family came from various shelters. 

Mom expected some behavior problems from me when I first came home.  After all, I was only a few weeks old and didn't know any better.  But the dogs from the shelter were all much older.  You would expect they wouldn't be too much trouble.  Not so!  In some cases, they misbehaved worse than I did when I was a puppy! 

According to the Humane Society of the United States, between six and eight million dogs and cats are turned in to animal shelters each year, and about four million are euthanized for lack of good homes.  If the behavior of our shelter dogs is any indication, I can understand why!  Who wants a dog that isn't housebroken, or constantly chews things, or is too aggressive?  What is really sad is that most of these behavior problems could be solved with a little training and socializing.  Fortunately, Mom and Dad understand this and take the time to work with us.  Not all dogs are as fortunate.

Training doesn't have to elaborate to be effective.  All we need are the basics.  Almost any of us can learn to sit and stay.  And once we have learned to do this, we are less likely to jump on people or be a nuisance.  Now we can truly be part of the family!

Of course, if you want to teach us more, some of us are eager to learn.  We dogs can be taught to do all kinds of things.  Gypsy can dance.  Ginger used to herd.  Dusty was a hunter and pointer.  There are dogs that play Frisbee.  Mom and Bob even told me about dogs that can surf.  I don't do many tricks but I do know how to sit and stay.  I'm so cute, apparently that's enough to make Mom happy!

January is Train Your Dog Month.  That makes it the perfect time for dog parents to learn how to train their dogs.  There are lots of ways you can learn.  Books, DVDs, and even online videos are available.  Please remember that we want to learn so any training should be humane.  Most of us will do anything to please you for some praise and a small treat.

If you don't want to learn to train us yourself, you can always attend a training class or hire a professional trainer.  This will cost a bit more than doing it yourself, but takes less time than doing it yourself.  But the time spent training your dog personally will be time well-spent.  It will give you and your dog a chance to bond and play.  If you do hire a trainer, remember there is no certification required.  That means anyone can call themselves a dog trainer, even if they don't know what they are doing!

Take time to train your dog.  We'll be better behaved.  You'll be less stressed.  And we'll both live happily ever after.

For more information on dog training, contact the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, who have proclaimed January as Train Your Dog Month.