Regardless of where, when, or how your dog came to join your family – any age and stage is a great time to consider meeting with a certified dog trainer. “All dogs can benefit from meeting with a board-based trainer,” Mikkel Becker, a dog behavior consultant and certified lead animal trainer for FearFreeHappyHomes.com said. “Training isn’t just about changing unwanted behaviors. It can be about enrichment, communication, and bonding as well,” Becker continued.
Enrichment, Communication, and Bonding
Training can help dogs and their parents in so many ways. Training can help a pet parent understand the many ways their dog interacts and help the parent decipher what their pet is trying to communicate. Another way trainers can help is by providing pet parents with ways to enrich their dogs’ lives through further training, play concepts, and assigning the dog ‘jobs’ to do at home. Just like people, Mikkel explains, dogs like to have things to do and want to be busy and have purpose. Trainers can help find the right enrichment activities for a pet and their parent to participate in together, which can enhance their bond. These enrichment activities can also serve to avoid problem behaviors by keeping pet minds and paws busy with other activities. Ultimately, training can help improve the human-animal bond by bringing a pet and parent closer together through spending more time with each other, creating a better understanding of one another, and providing resources for the pet parent to keep their dog busy and happy.
“Ideally, everyone would bring in their dog when they’re puppies for puppy socialization classes as this helps to prevent aggression. We can also provide pet parents with information early on that may help to prevent future issues,” said Mikkel. Unfortunately, most pet parents don’t think to come to a trainer until there’s an issue, or even worse, the dog has already bitten someone. “My advice is always that prevention is the better way to go about anything and that certainly holds true with our pets as well,” said Mikkel. “Pet parents often dismiss little things or think because their dog is smaller in size the behavior isn’t as concerning. These beliefs are rarely accurate. In fact, small dogs are more likely to bite, and parents need to pay just as much attention to their behavior as they would a large dog.”
Knowing now that size doesn’t matter in the value of training, does breed? The short answer is no. Training is beneficial for all breeds. “For instance,” said Mikkel, “dogs that are less socialized are more likely to see a trainer. When dogs aren’t socialized enough, they are often fearful, which presents as aggression and usually only gets worse without intervention.”
Mikkel shared, “most people don’t come to see a trainer until the they see a marked increase in aggression or the dog bites, and then they go ‘oh no – we must address this’ and it’s a lot more work to retroactively change behavior. All pets and pet owners can benefit from training and it’s a lot more fun when it’s about growing together as opposed to changing a negative behavior.”
About Mikkel Becker, CBCC-KA, KPA CTP, CDBC, CPDT-KA, CTC
Mikkel Becker is a certified trainer and certified behavior consultant and is the owner of Mikkel Becker Animal Training LLC. She is the coauthor of 6 books and lead animal trainer for FearFreeHappyHomes.com. Mikkel is committed to helping pets and their people live better lives together through kind training and bond-building methods that partner closely with the pet’s veterinary team. Follow, Like, and Subscribe to Mikkel by clicking on the links below.