Sunday, March 1, 2015

Where to start with dog training.

My little Mocha Bear that first week we got him.
I've talked a bit about specific training ideas, including teaching your dog to come to you, and teaching them to go outside in a way that is easy to handle.

When Nathan and I were planning on getting Mocha, we got a book by Victoria Stilwell. We'd watched her show, It's Me or the Dog, on Animal Planet, and we got her book as a kind of "in print" version of her advice. We read it cover to cover, and it helped so much. I love that she always uses positive reinforcement. I think that's the best way to train a dog that's forever loyal. This is the book we got:


The book did not, however, prepare us for Mocha's little personality quirks. For example, Mocha learned super fast that if he went potty, we praised him and gave him attention. This resulted in him trying to pee every 15 seconds or so, and if we didn't pay attention to him, he'd bark at us until we looked at him and then go pee.

One night, I got up to go to the bathroom (Mocha was sleeping in his pen in our bedroom at the time), and by the time I came back, Mocha had laid out a huge poop for me. He knew that if he pooped, I'd come back and give him lots of attention.

Needless to say, we needed professional help! (Mocha has always been smarter than me...) We took him to puppy kindergarten, the S.T.A.R. puppy program, in Columbia, Missouri. It was a great experience for him, even though he was the teeniest, tiniest dog there. (This picture on the left is Mocha at about eight months old next to a four month old lab,)

 The S.T.A.R. puppy class focuses on socializing your dog with other people and dogs. This is so so important. Mocha learned that it was OK to be petted by other people and to greet other dogs. He also learned sit, down, and how to walk on a leash. You can see everything on the test here.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that if you are lucky enough to get a puppy, either from a breeder or a rescue, please enroll them in a class. There are just some things that dogs learn better in groups, and it will help your dog a lot with behavior in the future.

Finding a dog training facility.

Honestly, the way we found ours was by doing a Google search for dog trainer. You can also search for All-Breed.The AKC has many clubs with good trainers, you can do a search for their training facilities here.

Do be sure you read the reviews. The first place we tried, the people were super nice but it wasn't very clean. Because we lived in a rural area at the time...let's just say there were bug problems. 

Also, sometimes dog people/trainers can be a little...socially awkward. Sometimes they're downright rude. I'll get into that another day, but it's not you, it's the people who treat dogs poorly that have turned otherwise caring, compassionate people into short-tempered people who can be more direct that we're used to.

Good luck! And let me know if you have any trouble finding a class, I'll try to help!

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