The Pet Corner: Dog training can benefit pets, owners

Dog trainers have been around for a very long time.

Some trainers specialize in training hunting dogs, sled pulling dogs, Seeing Eye dogs, and search and rescue dogs while others concentrate on behavior.

It seems, as time passes, and dogs become more and more like family members, dog trainers are becoming more popular, important and necessary in your dog’s development.

Actually, time is finally catching up with dog trainers’ ideas and their profession has become more needed than ever.

There are a couple of reasons dog trainers have become so popular and sometimes necessary.

As I have stated many times before, dogs are no longer just outside pets that require very little attention or affection. Now, dogs are a very integral part of the family by living in the house, bathing in the bath tub and sleeping in our beds. Consequently, our furry family members are spending much more time around us requiring our attention and affection.

Therefore, since our dogs are spending so much time with us, they are required to behave in a certain manor acceptable to our liking.

Fortunately for dog trainers, dogs don’t always behave the way we would like for them to, and dogs aren’t always easily trained by their owner.

Another reason dog trainers have become more accepted as legitimate help for our furry family members is the fact dog owners are more likely to spend the time and money on their furry family member instead of their occasionally petted outside dog.

There are many more well-behaved furry family members than ever before.

The first step to owning a furry family member is to realize the importance of socialization.

Socialization is the process during which a dog develops relationships with other living beings.

The process of socialization takes place during your dog’s first year of life. However, the first four months of your dog’s life is the most important time for them to learn about other living beings and their environment.

There are two other very important processes your dog will experience during the first few months of their life.

One process is known as habituation which is when your dog gets used to repeated stimuli. There are countless stimuli that can cause fear or anxiety such as sounds, smells, sights, and events if your dog is unfamiliar with these stimuli.

By being exposed to these stimuli over and over without bad consequences, your dog learns to not react unfavorably.

Localization is another process that your young puppy will experience. This process is when your puppy develops an attachment to a particular place.

This process comes more naturally and is easier to develop as long as your puppy does not move constantly to different households.

The basis behind properly socializing your dog is to reduce the possibility of fearful events as your dog grows and matures.

Dogs that don’t receive sufficient exposure to people, other animals and new environments during their critical socialization age may develop irreversible fears leading to severe behavioral problems.

Ideally, dogs should be exposed to many stimuli such as people, places, and things during their first four months of life.

This can be accomplished simply by enrolling your new puppy into basic obedience group training classes. This type of course includes basic obedience commands, problem solving techniques, prevention of behavior issues and leadership skills.

By participating in group classes, you are exposing your puppy to a variety of other puppies and people which is the basis for socialization.

Most pet owners have no problem bonding with their new puppy.

It is common for pet owners to “spoil” their new puppy by spending an excessive amount of time holding them. There is nothing wrong with spoiling your new puppy as long as you take the time to socialize them as well.

The problem is many pet owners just don’t take the extra time and effort to make sure their puppy gets plenty of exposure to other stimuli.

We all know how busy our lives have become with all of the running around between work, sports, band practice and all the other school functions.

That’s one of the reasons it is so advantageous to sign your puppy up for regular scheduled training classes.

By doing so, you don’t let those crucial first four months of your puppy’s life slip by without proper training.

A properly socialized pet is much more enjoyable for pet owners. Dogs that are not socialized often misbehave whenever they are taken out in public. They will often bark excessively, pull on their leash and act disobedient. An obedient dog in public is more enjoyable.

For more advice about training your new puppy, see your veterinarian as soon as possible to ensure your pet lives a long, healthy and happy life.

Dr. Jeff Castle is a veterinarian at Clark County Veterinary Clinic.