Does your pet need to go back to school?

Training a pet can be challenging, but the rewards are many. From simple obedience to clever pet tricks, there are many reasons to consider both formal and informal pet training.

Many businesses offer formal obedience training, taught by a skilled professional who knows the ins and outs of animal behavior. Most obedience training classes meet once or twice a week for several weeks.  Already taken your pet to obedience training? She may still benefit from going back to school! Pets should attend a “refresher” course every few years to reinforce positive behavior. 

For dogs, obedience training often includes teaching a pet simple commands, like sit or stay, and good behaviors, like not chewing on furniture. Ideally, puppies should be taken for obedience training at 8-12 weeks, before they’ve formed bad habits; waiting until bad habits show up makes training much more difficult.

For horses, training is specialized to your wishes. Horses can be trained for riding, running or sporting. At a beginner’s level, horses will be taught safe behavior and how to respond to human commands. Local equestrian organizations can likely recommend reputable trainers at a number of price ranges.

A few obedience trainers do personalized lessons with cats and other pets. Cats generally don’t do well in a class setting, and the needs of other pet species are unique and specific.

What about home schooling? The internet is teeming with tips and tutorials to help pet parents train their pets. Many are highly effective and allow you to have some quality bonding time with your pet. And you might even find DIY training resources for tricks and skills that aren’t taught in conventional training classes. We taught our rat terriers to beg and spin when they wanted a treat or to be picked up—something I think most pet parents probably would’ve never wanted their pooch to learn! Still, it was adorable and got them a lot of attention, which they loved. Training your pet yourself is a long road. Rather than leaving the teaching to someone else, you serve as the teacher and the reinforcer. Letting someone else do the heavy lifting will allow you to enjoy your pet’s great behavior without all of the stress of the learning process. The work can be greatly rewarding, but is often fraught with setbacks. Patience is the name of the game with any pet.

Professionals are trained to not only help your pet learn new skills, but also to weed out other bad behavior that might go unnoticed by an amateur. If you notice some troublesome behavior in your pet or a sudden change in your pet’s habits, seek the advice of a professional right away. It can be a warning sign of a health issue or sudden life change. It’s always safer to check than to wait and see.

Even if you’ve opted to go with professional training, you’ll still need to do some homework with your pet. Using the commands that your pet was taught in class is essential and you shouldn’t let your pet slide with bad behavior. You have to help keep up the training that your pet has learned; otherwise, it was all a waste! Remain consistent with your pet’s training and their behavior should remain consistent.

Pet training should be a positive experience for you and your pet. It helps socialize your pet, teaches them good behavior and offers them some fun while they learn. It helps your relationship with your pet by preventing bad behavior and gives you some great bonding experiences. A quality pet training professional should be able to offer you steady, consistent results and training that is always positive for your pet. Even if it’s easier for a pet to be trained at a young age, the old saying couldn’t be more wrong: old pets can definitely learn new tricks! The key is a good teacher, the right lessons and a lot of patience with the pupil.

Posted on -08-01 by Amanda Harper