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MVA Monthly Mouthful – National Train Your Dog Month

By Alyssa Mages, BS, CVT | Development and Education Coordinator

“Should auld acquaintance be forgot. . .” This classic tune recalls remembrances and resolutions for us humans, so let’s also not forget our canine companions!

Resolving to learn more and do better for ourselves can also apply to our furry friends by means of guidance and instruction. There are many different ‘schools’ of thought and training approaches, and it’s important to take into consideration the following factors when deciding upon a training regimen.

Age
Don’t worry, you can absolutely teach an old dog new tricks! Having said that, it is important to revisit basic training when you rescue an adult/senior pet, or if your pet is aging and dealing with cognitive dysfunction. This differs for puppies as they require more intense and directed training, and typically the utilization of different techniques and or teaching styles (more on that in a bit).

Breed
It’s important to keep this in mind as different types of dogs require not only different techniques, but incentives for more successful training. Herding dogs (Border Collies) are typically higher energy dogs, and require more direct, active training regimes whereas Non-sporting dogs such as English bulldogs, may not necessarily need as much activity to cement their lessons.

Temperament
Is your pup more reserved? Super active and social? Do you find that they get along with other dogs or do better with people? This information is critical for the training process as it will help you decide whether private training sessions or a group setting would be more beneficial.

History
Knowing your pup’s story is another piece of this puzzle, and not just where they come from – although that’s important too – but also their medical background. Vaccinations up to date? Any pre-existing conditions (endocrine, orthopedic, etc.)? Being fully aware of all aspects of your pet prior to implementing a training program will ensure that there aren’t any extra surprises that come up, and that they’re heading into a new experience as healthy as they can be.

Training styles will differ from trainer to trainer and can encompass pretty much everything you can think of from group sessions to private ones, focusing on positive reinforcement, adding in clicker training, working on food motivation, addressing behavioral modification – phew, the list can go on and on! It’s important to investigate trainers and tour the training session locations before choosing the one that fits both you & your pup. This way you can see if both your dog and you not only get along with the trainer but feel comfortable in the training setting as well.

We’re not going to recommend one trainer over another because this is not a one size fits all scenario. What we do have is a certified veterinary behaviorist here at MVA should that be a help to you and your pet, and should you have any other emergent questions/concerns our ER team is here for you 24/7/365.

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