Dog’s Eye View: Don’t stop — training never ends |

Dog’s Eye View: Don’t stop — training never ends

Sandra Kruczek/For Steamboat Today
Sandra Kruczek

Don’t stop training your dog. I believe the very act of getting too comfortable with the level of training you have put in on your dog is responsible for many an unhappy dog/human relationship. I often hear, “He used to be really good, but now he’s out of control. The training didn’t work.” Dogs are not machines any more than we are. When we learn something new, we need to keep using that knowledge and skill and hopefully integrate it into our daily life.

The Total Teamwork Training classes described here are specifically designed to bring families and pets from beginning puppy to the point at which owners are set free with knowledge of canine behavior and training skills. They can design their future activities to suit their own interests. There are a myriad of service and competitive opportunities out there.

Head Start Puppy Training Group Class is taught with our ongoing goal of reaching puppies and their families when the pups are variously 10, 12 and 16 weeks old. Some are a bit older. It pays to get them out into a healthy population of vaccinated puppies and clean surroundings. Ask your veterinarian about vaccinations and safety.

Family Dog Training Group Class is geared for dogs of any age. Many people have not experienced problems with their dog early on, but it’s not uncommon for dogs to develop unwanted behaviors as they mature. And, of course, thanks to kind-hearted people, some dogs are not adopted into new homes until they are older. Naturally, people just want to have a dog with good manners though they may have started later than early puppyhood.

Canine Life and Social Skills is an advanced class that has levels of accomplishment listed as: B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. It’s really fun to tell someone that their pet dog has earned a Ph.D. Each level has increasingly challenging skills to be learned as a human/dog team. One aspect of this class is that tricks are part of the curriculum. Tricks make training more relaxed and fun. We don’t often think of training tricks as a skill set, but it’s all training.

Canine Nose Work is just one more exciting adventure for dogs and owners. Has your dog dreamed of a job as a scent detection specialist? Before you let your dog get carried away, this program is not designed for official police dogs or bomb sniffing dogs. It is, however, one of the most interesting and fastest growing sports in which an owner can participate with his or her dog. From Chihuahua’s to Great Danes, any dog of any size, shape or age, from mixed breeds to purebreds, can excel in this endeavor.

Understandably, some folks might look at this smorgasbord of classes and think, “Yikes. I just wanted some tips on training.”

Well, my dog-loving friends, it has only begun. What we do know about raising a “civilized” dog is that learning never stops (whether we direct it or not) and that there is truth in the saying, “use it or lose it.” We might as well keep our family dog’s behavior going in the positive direction of our choosing.

Enrolling in one or two training classes does not mean you’ve completed your dog’s education. Not by a long shot. Dogs go through developmental stages similar to the ones experienced by children, only they do it in a shorter span of time. Would you stop sending a child to school when he or she finishes fifth grade? We continue to guide and mentally challenge our canines through adolescence, maturity and into their golden years.

What’s my advice? Don’t stop teaching your dog new things, and don’t stop reinforcing skills you value highly. Besides, it’s fun to be out there with your friends and their dogs. Training helps keep us mentally sharp too.

Sandra Kruczek is a certified professional dog trainer at Total Teamwork Training LLC with more than 25 years of experience.

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