What’s the Point in Training?

jakey sepia


This is Jake. Jake holds a special place in my heart. He is my granddog.

Jake was rescued off of a highway in Virginia by my son and daughter-in-law, prior to their marriage. He was infested with ticks and very thin. His owner didn’t want him. No one did…except my dear son and daughter-in-law. They wanted him. Unfortunately, they were not in a position to have a dog live with them, as they were in college and living on campus in dorms. Poor Jake was only about a year old at the time. He wasn’t prepared to be on his own — no dog is, no matter how old. So guess who ended up raising him for the next two years? Yours truly. And although I have been bitten multiple times, I have never once regretted it. Jake is a dear, sweet dog with a very sad story.

Jake apparently spent most of his time outdoors. He was fearful of loud noises. Jake had also been abused and had a fear that manifested in a variety of ways. I know this because one day while I was sewing, I reached for a yardstick in the corner. Jake immediately jumped to the other side of the room, cowering in fear. My heart broke. How could anyone hurt an animal?

As I mentioned before, Jake has bitten me. Several times. He didn’t want his toe nails trimmed the first time. But Jake has had prior experiences that have caused some reactivity in him. It took a long time for him to trust. He has come a long way since those days and he does require an understanding owner. Enter my son and daughter-in-law. He lives with them now. He is always happy to see his “grandparents” but always happy to be with his rightful owners.

I introduce Jake to you because I want you to understand. Dogs come with issues. Some come with simple issues that are fairly easily resolved (yes, we did have him neutered right away). Others come with more difficult issues. In Jake’s case he came with both. Biting was a difficult issue because it took some time to understand when his reactivity would kick in and how to handle him in the meantime.

One thing I know: no matter how many issues a dog has, basic training can help. It helps because once the dog knows how to obey certain requests — for example sit or stay — it becomes easier to deal with some of the more complicated issues. One command that my dogs are familiar with is the word “off.” This particular command comes in quite handy. They know that they are not allowed on the couch. However, the little one sometimes forgets when he is excited. I tell him “off” and off he goes! This is such a simple thing, but basic training goes an even longer way.

Dogs that experience deeper behavioral issues, such as anxiety, can be taught to perform certain behaviors during stressful circumstances. My friend and fellow behavioral consultant specializes in thunder phobic behaviors. Her little dog was not particularly appreciative of the chirping of the smoke alarm during the night, so she promptly went to the soundproof hovel that was made for such circumstances and spent the rest of the night there.

Pet training can provide many happy hours between owner and pet. Dogs, cats, and other pets benefit from the structure of the time, the challenges of learning, the rewards for appropriate and wanted behaviors, and the time of bonding with owners. Owners not only get to enjoy time relaxing with their pets, but they reap the benefits of a well-behaved pet — which is the end goal.

Please know, however, that money spent with a good, force free trainer will reap a lifetime of rewards. So if you are inclined to seek out help with some basic or even advanced training skills, please look for a force free professional. You can look for a force free trainer here.

If you are concerned about particular behaviors that your pet is demonstrating, please feel free to call, text, or email me. If it is simply a training issue, I will let you know. However, if your pet needs a different approach that goes beyond training, I can help you with that as well.


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