When you adopt a new dog, training should be the first thing you do. The reason I am blogging about this is because it has been a while since I wrote on what training accomplishes and we all need subtle reminders every now and then. It also didn't hurt when I heard from a friend who had a friend who was adopting their first dog.
When I got the note, my friend was concerned because some friends of hers had just adopted what was supposed to be a medium sized puppy. It turns out he is pretty medium for a six month old. By the time he is grown he will probably top the scales at eighty or ninety pounds.
Her friends had never owned a dog before and her concerns were what would happen if the dog proved too much for them and it was returned to Animal Services.
I suggested two avenues which needed to be taken. Group classes which are always necessary in my mind. These kinds of classes not only help socialize the dog to other humans but to other dogs. Dogs learn certain behaviors from each other. Dogs in group classes will learn to defer to you as leader of the pack. Last but not least, classes are fun for the dogs.
The second suggestion was hiring a private trainer to help guide them through the first few weeks. Private trainers can provide individualized instruction in your home and if you are experiencing difficulty in any area, the trainer can observe it in the setting it is happening in.
I happen to know the best trainer around. She is, as always, uber busy but she puts Victoria Stillwell and Cesar to shame. He name is not in lights, though,so she still has to make a honest living in this area.
I have seen more dogs saved due to her diligence in working with new owners than for any other reason. Unfortunately, she does not train on a full time basis. She works closely with other groups in the area and her concentration is shelter pets. She will do just about anything to make time to train if it means a dog will stay in its' home and not be sent back to a shelter because of behavior issues.
Training is the best way to keep pets in the home so if you are planning on adopting, please find a training class or group, or a private trainer if you want. We can continue to increase our save rate at Animal Services if we can continue to keep dogs in homes.