Successful Dog Training Starts With Five Basic Commands

Senior woman with her dogAccording to canine intelligence experts, the average dog recognizes and understands about 150 human words. Talking directly to your dog serves a variety of purposes, but there’s a special advantage when it comes to dog training. Teaching basic commands is not only fun and rewarding, it can also prevent injuries and inappropriate behavior.

A Great Head Start

Ideally, all puppies between 12-16 weeks should be taught the following basic commands, but any dog can learn new things throughout his or her life. That’s why The Pet Experts recommend these tips for success: Continue…

PUPPY TRAINING: IS IT IMPORTANT?

Puppies ready for training

With spring well on its way, everyone—human and animal alike—is looking to get outdoors and play. After being cooped up all winter, the sunshine and warm weather are irresistible. It’s only natural that you want to take your puppy out for a run or a game of fetch at the local dog park.

Without proper obedience training though, your day in the sun can quickly turn into a power struggle between you and your pooch. Continue…

National Dog Bite Prevention Week

Nervous DogThis week, May 20-26, is National Dog Bite Prevention week, an event hosted by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) to help educate the public about the nearly 5 million dog bites that occur every year and how they can be prevented.

Did you know that according to the AVMA:

  • 4.7 million people in this country are bitten by dogs every year
  • children are by far the most common victims
  • 800,000 Americans receive medical attention for dog bites each year
  • children are far more likely to be severely injured; approximately 400,000 receive medical attention every year
  • most dog bites affecting young children occur during everyday activities and while interacting with familiar dogs
  • senior citizens are the second most common dog bite victims

The thing about dog bites is that many, if not most, are preventable. The AVMA has created a great public health bulletin with great tips and resources for people.

Because children are most at risk for bites you should never (ever, ever, ever!) leave a small child alone with a dog. Even if your dog is the world’s biggest softy, it’s never a good idea to leave him unattended with a child. Most dog bites happen while dogs and children are left alone together, even if it’s only for a few minutes.

It is always important to remember that any dog can bite; even the most friendly and well-trained – especially if they are injured or fearful. Proper training and socialization of puppies and dogs is crucial to avoiding dog bites.

Dog Body LanguageAccording to veterinary behaviorist Sophia Yin DVM MS, “The consensus among animal behavior professionals is that the major cause of dog bites to humans is related to failure of owners and dog bite victims to recognize when dogs are fearful and know how to approach and greet dogs appropriately.”

This is why it’s so important to learn to recognize a dog’s body language. Dogs who are growling or baring their teeth are obvious dangers, but dogs who are nervous or frightened are just as likely to bite, if not more. The chart to the right offers a quick view of what to look for, but here’s a great article from the ASPCA for a more in depth description of how to interpret a dog’s body language to better be able to identify dogs who may pose a biting risk.

When approaching a dog, children (and adults) should use the acronym “WAIT” to remind themselves of proper doggie etiquette:

  • W – Wait to see if the dog looks friendly. If the dog looks afraid or angry, STOP and walk away slowly.
  • A – Ask the owner for permission to pet the dog. If the owner says no or there is no owner present, STOP and walk away slowly.
  • I – Invite the dog to come to you to sniff you. Put your hand to your side with your fingers curled in. Stand slightly sideways and dip your head down so you are not looking directly at the dog. If the dog does not come over to sniff you, STOP and do not touch him.
  • T – Touch the dog gently, petting him along his back while staying away from his head and tail.

Being respectful of a dog’s personal space is the bottom line. The more you invade that space, the more uncomfortable the dog will become and the more likely he is to bite. If we all follow these tips maybe we can stay a little safer around our best friends.

Back to School for Kids and Pets

Fall is just around the corner, and it is time for school to start again. As the kids head off to class, isn’t it time to think about your dog’s education as well? There are many types of classes that you can get your pup involved in, from basic obedience to agility to preparation for formal competition. No matter what your dog’s experience is, chances are there is a class to fit your needs.  Enrolling Fido in training can have lots of benefits, too.

  • It’s fun! Most dogs enjoy having a job, and training your dog can become a great hobby!
  • Classes can be an excellent energy outlet for your pooch.  Most likely your dog could use and hour or two of dedicated exercise and interaction. Exercise and training can decrease problem behaviors by providing a healthy way for your pup to burn off some energy.
  • Training your dog is a wonderful way to build the bond between you and your pet. And a well-behaved dog is often a much more enjoyable friend.
  • When you are enrolled in a training class, you get the benefit of having an experienced dog trainer getting to know your animal. This better prepares them to help you through specific problems you may be having with your pet.