In order to enhance your chances of success with your dog, take a moment to ensure your commitment and understanding of the training program.
Successful dog training is based on consistently correcting your dog's bad behavior and consistently rewarding good behavior.
You, as the owner, are the most important person in the dog's life. Dog training does not stop with one obedience course. Your dog is learning all of his life.
If you decide to work with a dog trainer, please understand that you still have to work with your dog on a daily basis. You have to be very committed and take your dog out a couple of times a day for a few minutes (according to your dog's age and tolerance).
Work with the dog according to your trainer's recommendation. Do not change training methods on your own. It takes weeks and sometimes months to learn a new behavior. Do not get discouraged or lose your temper while working with the dog. Never shout, speak harshly or hit your dog. It is also very important to spend as much time as possible with the dog working on its skills.
Do not cage your dog for endless hours or put it in the backyard by itself. Never chain your dog for more than a few minutes, especially when you are not at home. To do so is a violation of Palm Beach County's anti-tethering laws. Understand that dogs are pack animals and need to be with their "pack," you and your family, which includes other pets. Leaving a dog by itself makes it frustrated and destructive.
If your goals are set high (i.e., you would like your dog to be "off-lead trained"), you have to appreciate that it takes time, possibly even months, for this skill to be learned confidently and is dependent upon many factors including the dog's motivation to learn and the time you spend teaching it.
Socialization is as important as food during a dog's puppyhood. It is essential for your dog to be around other dogs, cats, children and other adults as much as possible.
Take your dog to puppy classes and parks, shopping centers and any other dog-friendly locales for new learning experiences. As soon as your dog is fully vaccinated, it should be out and about. This is important for your dog's sense of well-being and to insure that it is well adjusted.
You do not want a young dog (ages 1-2) to be frightened in unfamiliar situations. This is especially true with a large-breed dog, because its fright could quickly bring on a dangerous situation.
We look forward to working with you and your dog. Thank you for trusting us with this very important responsibility.
Birgit Edler is the owner of Canine College in Juno Beach, which offers grooming, training and day care services for dogs and cats. Call (561) 626-0552 or e-mail Caninecollegefl@yahoo.com.