We live in a world where we expect instant gratification. Always upgrading our electronics to the latest trend. Drive-thrus aren’t just for food anymore. We don’t have to leave our house to shop anymore. Everything always seems to be a click or second away. Not that I don’t enjoy using these services, but I find myself explaining time and time again that dogs don’t come with a remote. There is no fast forward, pause or mute button. We can’t just shut them off when they are bothering us or pause them when we are preoccupied with other things. We send our kids to school to be taught, but we still need to put in the time at home to ensure they are doing homework and continuing to learn. It is the same with dogs and puppies. It is not enough to just train once a week for an hour, you need to put in time everyday. Sessions of five to fifteen minutes of training throughout the day will really pay off in the long run. I realize life is busy and there are not enough hours in the day. But use the times when you feed your dog or when you take them out, to reinforce the behavior you are looking for. You and your dog will benefit from you taking time in the beginning to teach your dog the right behaviors. Don’t wait until it becomes an issue, try to be proactive. We don’t wait until we run out of oil to get an oil change (or at least you shouldn’t), we go every 3 months or 3,000 miles to be proactive and make sure we take good care of the engine.
Once we train our dogs, it is important to maintain the behavior as well. It is a good idea to freshen up what your dog knows, especially any recall they know. Teach them new tricks or introduce something new like agility. Training is a great way to bond and build a wonderful relationship with our animals. That’s why I love using positive training. I see how much my doggie clients love to work and the owners start enjoying it too. I’ll be the first to admit, it is not always easy. Sometimes the dog is just not cooperating at the time. Maybe they’re distracted or not feeling well. It happens to us as well. Just take a break and try again later.
If you are thinking about getting a dog, be realistic with the time you can commit to them. There is not fast track to the perfect dog. If you want a puppy that is great, but realize they will need to go out to potty every hour to few hours, they will need to be trained not to jump, chew, and nip. They will need physical and mental stimulation. And dogs can live up to 18+ years. That is a major commitment! The number 1 reason for dogs to be given up to a shelter or abandoned is because of behavioral issues. NUMBER 1! We can no longer just blame the pet shops and backyard breeders for our overpopulation in shelters. We need to look inward and see if we really did put all of our effort into training our dogs to be good citizens.