PDSA recommends that all dog owners train their four-legged friends as early as possible to help stop them injuring themselves or other members of the public.
Sean Wensley, Senior Veterinary Surgeon, says: “We recommend that new dog owners ask their vet for advice on training as soon as they get their new puppy. Training, using kind methods, is an important part of responsible pet ownership, and just as important as getting them vaccinated.
Training can help protect your dog from potential dangers and risks. Sean explains: “If your dog accidentally slips its lead and runs off towards a busy road, the ‘come’ command could help prevent a serious accident which could endanger the life of your dog and others. Or, obeying the ‘drop’ command could stop your dog hurting itself if it picks up an unsafe object.”
The most common and useful skills to teach your dog are walking to heel, sitting, lying down, staying, coming, leaving and dropping. PDSA advocates using an effective and kind method of training called ‘positive reinforcement’. This means rewarding good behaviour with healthy treats, praise or play, so that the dog will want to repeat the behaviour. This technique makes it easier for them to understand what their owner wants them to do, which improves learning.
Puppies have the greatest potential for learning, but it’s never too late to start training a dog. However, puppies have short attention spans, so it is best to train them for short periods on a regular basis. It is best not to try to teach them lots of skills at once, as this can be confusing. Instead, they should be taught one skill until they’ve learnt it and then move on to the next one.
For more advice why not pick up a free copy of PDSA’s Dog Training leaflet, which gives an introduction to the most useful commands and effective training techniques. The leaflet forms part of a larger range of Responsible Pet Care leaflets produced by PDSA which cover topics including First Aid, Diet and Nutrition and Vaccinations. The leaflets are available from PDSA PetAid hospitals and charity shops nationwide or by logging onto www.pdsa.org.uk.
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