Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? If so, did any of them concern your dog? If not, it’s not too late to start. Whether you recently added a new pup to your household or you would like to teach your older dog some new tricks, training can be beneficial. It can make your dog easier to live with. It can help you build a strong bond with your dog. Best of all, training is fun for both of you!
If your dog is fairly well socialized, you can look for a group class to learn basic manners. If your dog doesn’t do well in the presence of other dogs or if you want help on specific behavior issues, consider private lessons. To find a trainer or class in the Virgina, Maryland, or Washington DC , ask dog-loving friends and family for recommendations. You can also search the trainer directories maintained by the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers and the Association of Pet Dog Trainers to find local trainers. Also take advantage of training and behavior workshops such as the free ones offered by Your Dog’s Friend, a local non-profit organization located in Rockville.
Once you have some names, check out the trainers’ methods and philosophies. Look for a trainer that uses positive reinforcement, rewards-based training. If you want to take a group class, ask how many students are allowed in class; you want a class that’s small enough to ensure you get some individual attention. You also might want to ask if you can observe a class to see if you like the instructor’s teaching style. Even if you approve of the training methods, you might find you prefer one trainer’s way of teaching and interacting with both owners and dogs over that of another trainer.
Taking the time to train your dog will be worth it. A well-behaved dog is a joy, and you might find it introduces you and your pup to new, fun activities.