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National Train Your Dog Month
January 3, 2022
Did you get a new little furry friend for the holidays? Or is it your New Year’s resolution to get the trusty sidekick you’ve had for years some discipline and structure? January is National Train Your Dog Month. It can be hard to wade through all the different options, classes, and philosophies out there, but a trained dog is a happy dog. Good on you for taking action and having your dog’s well-being and mental enrichment in mind. If you have no idea where to start, fear not! Here are some pointers.
The Importance of Training
Even if your pup’s not going to be working for a living, or competing in agility competitions, some basic training will make life better for you both. Your dog will have some structure and parameters and know what’s expected of him. A trained dog with a structured life is a happier, calmer dog.
If you were gifted a dog, or adopted one out of the goodness of your heart over the holidays, January—aka National Train Your Dog Month—is the perfect time to start putting in a little effort that will pay off mightily for years to come. It’s good for mental stimulation and bonding. And even if the extent of your training is putting some intentionality into smart socialization—introducing your fur baby to different settings and circumstances—you’re doing much to set your pup up for success. Getting out and about in a smart way, experiencing other people, dogs, and situations early, will make for a well-socialized dog, which means a well-adjusted dog his whole life through.
Do-it-yourself dog training is very doable with a little commitment and consistency. If your new furry family member is a puppy, you’re golden. Not that puppy training doesn’t come with its own unique testy moments, but starting training with a puppy is much easier than with an adult dog that’s formed his own ideas, expectations, and behaviors.
If you’ve brought home a puppy at the customary age of eight weeks old, you can start five to ten minute sessions as soon as they come home. Always opt for teaching via positive reinforcement (like treats, praise, or play) over punishment (like yelling or leash correction).
When to Call in the Pros
If you’ve got a real challenging case on your hands, or perhaps an older dog that you’re trying to teach new tricks to, or simply would rather enlist the help of a dog training professional, do your research, and think first about what your goal is with your particular pup.
Does your pup just need to learn general obedience and good manners (commands like sit, stay, come, and heel)? Or does he have behavioral problems that need rehabbing and will require someone specialized in a certain area?
And on the question of whether any trainer needs to be certified, Cesar Millan says it isn’t make or break. There are many gifted dog professionals who aren’t, but certification does mean the trainer has had to pass some minimum requirements, put in hands-on hours and study, and makes them accountable to standards and guidelines. He also points out that certification likewise doesn’t indicate that a trainer is an expert.
There are many different options for professional dog training, including group classes and individual training. The former tends to be cheaper, but in the latter, you and your dog are more likely to get personalized attention.
Board and train is an option too, just do your research. Some good terminology to look for:
And if you’re opting for board and train, don’t send your pup off right away. Think about how much of an imprinting period you want, where your puppy is bonding to you, not a trainer. You’ll hear some recommend as much as six months. Here’s a helpful Bivvy blog that will walk you through some of the different kinds of pros who can help.
Dog training is one cost that Bivvy’s dog insurance does not cover, but it does cover a great many other pet care costs, and it’s a great thing to equip yourself with in case of training accidents, or health problems your dog’s whole life through.
Factor in the cost of dog insurance (Bivvy’s is just $15 or less per month!) to your new year’s budget and check out some of our Bivvy pet insurance reviews to join a pack of like-minded, covered pet parents.
Here’s wishing you and your fur fam a happy and prosperous New Year and National Train Your Dog Month!