According to Kim Melanson, CPDT-KA Behavior Counselor at the ARL, you and your dog can benefit from training in five ways:
Freedom: A well-behaved dog can have an enriching life by spending more time with his family. He can hang out with visitors, go places with you and join in on family activities. If your dog has learned some basic house and outdoor manners, he will not jump all over guests or bother them too much. He can ride in a car safely, go to a relative’s house and settle, go to the park or the beach for an outing and come back when called.
Bonding: With just a few minutes a day of active training and/or adding some training into every day activities, you and your dog can learn more about each other and have fun. The benefits of positive reinforcement humane training are abundant. Both human and dog enjoy the experience as they teach and learn from each other, as well as create a trusting, mutually-enriching, and lasting relationship.
It lets your “dog be a dog”: Dogs like to do natural things that sometimes do not fit well in the human home such as: chewing, jumping, chasing, and digging. Training them in an appropriate way to have their fun lets them to do ‘doggie’ things and lets you join in too, all while making sure they do not disturb the household in a negative way. Train your dog to chew on dog chews and toys instead of shoes and pillows, sit for greetings and attention instead of jumping, playing ‘find it’ with treats and stuff Kongs instead of digging, and retrieving balls with a drop for chasing. Not only will your dog be happier, but you will also have fun!
Burns mental energy and relieves boredom: Positive training promotes thinking in dogs and humans, and a thinking brain can relieve excess energy. A few minutes a day can really help your dog rest well and not seek out destructive ways of burning energy. Teaching tricks is a great activity to do on a rainy day – kids and friends will love seeing your dog do tricks!
Keeps dogs in their ‘forever’ home: Many dogs are surrendered to shelters for behavior problems and or because they have become too much for the owner to handle. A well-trained dog stays in her forever home because she has become part of the family and is a joy to live with. She can also become an ‘ambassador’ for dogs everywhere. There are public places, apartment buildings and areas that are banning dogs, and some people are frightened of dogs. If our dogs are well-behaved in public, people see that we can keep dogs as an integral part of our society and families.
Training obedience cues of sit, down, stay, drop, come and more are great for dogs to learn, but training also means teaching your dog to live in a human household and beyond. House training, learning to settle, go to a mat or crate, to chew appropriate chews, to play appropriate games, to walk on leash and polite greetings for people and dogs are the cornerstones of a well mannered and well liked family dog.
The Animal Rescue League of Boston offers many dog training classes that review basic and advanced cues, along with house and outdoor manners. We also offer some dog sports and fun agility classes. We are offering a 25% discount for ARL alums and 10% off for BVC clients. For more information about our Boston classes check out our schedule.
Registration Now Open for Dog Training Classes
No matter how young or old your pet is, the ARL’s Dog Training Program has a class for everyone!
Join our certified, experienced and caring dog trainers as they provide classes that offer a fun way to build a relationship with your dog. All classes are held at the ARL’s Boston headquarters.
Proceeds from dog training classes benefit the animals at the Animal Rescue League of Boston.
Sign up today: arlboston.org/dog-training/enroll-in-class/
Nose Model: Bridget (available for adoption)
Photo: Maria L. Uribe
We continue National Train Your Dog Month with some fun training tips from one of our expert dog trainers, Cheryl Oelschlagel, CPDT-KA, who teaches a dog training class called “Sniffing For Fun.”
There are so many fun things you can train your dog to do and using her nose is one of them. A nose game session once or twice a week where a dog is using her brain and senses to their utmost limit, tires your dog far more than a hour of strenuous exercise.
Not only are they fun, they’ll help exercise your dogs brain and encourage her to pay attention to you. One caution: Food-based scent games may be inappropriate for dogs that guard food or toys. Get help to resolve such issues before you play.
Game #1: Find It – First, show your dog how the game works. Show her a treat and toss it on the ground a few feet away. Give her the okay to find the treat, saying “Find It.” Not only can she smell it, she saw where you tossed it. But after you do a few reps so she’s clear on how this game works, you can make the puzzle harder. Put her in a stay, and hide the treat under something (towel) or behind something (chair). Go to several spots and pretend to hide a treat in each one, but actually hide only one treat. Keep her in sight at all times, of course. Return to her and release her from the stay, tell her “Find It.” Watch her search for the treat.
Model: Stella (currently available for adoption)
Photo:Maria L. Uribe
Game #2: Lay a Scent Trail at Home; Play this game in your yard or indoors. If you’re indoors, you may want to choose a room with a tile or linoleum floor. Have your dog out of the room, or inside if you’re playing outdoors, and in her absence lay a scent trail to a hiding place where you leave the treat. To lay the trail outside, drop tiny pieces of the treat every few inches along your route, with a big treat bonus at the end. Indoors, you can rub the treat along the floor to leave a trail. The first few times you play, make the trail short to help your dog learn how the game works. Now bring your dog and show her the starting point of the trail. I think the next step is an obvious one, and so will your dog. As your dog gets better at the game, make the trail longer. Indoors, stop leaving a continuous rubbed line of scent instead, rub the floor for an inch or two and then leave a patch of clean floor before the next scent rub along your trail. This way you form a dotted line of scent, and she has to work harder to follow it.
Model: Lizzy (available for adoption)
Photo: Maria L. Uribe
Game #3: Hide Food-Dispensing Toys around the house. Even a well-exercised home-alone dog can get bored. I often recommend that any food not being used as training rewards be delivered to your dog in food-dispensing puzzle toys. But you can go one better by dividing some food among three or four such toys and hiding them around the house. The first few times you play, let your dog see you hiding the toys. She might happen to sniff them out anyway, but it helps to clue her in that you’re giving her a new game. Use the same number of toys every time; dogs have a rudimentary sense of number, so that way she’ll know how many she has to find. As your dog gets better at the game, make the toys harder to find by placing them on different levels of your house and behind and under furniture. Use dry food / treats rather than canned food. A word of advice: Don’t hide toys under the sofa cushions, okay?!
If you’re interested in exploring nose games with your dog, check out “Sniffing for Fun” on our dog training page.