Based in Maryland, Ali Smith is the founder of rebarkable.com, a site dedicated to all things dogs, and is recognized as the “Positive Puppy Expert.” Smith’s main goal is to help her clients understand their dogs so that they might live their very best lives together. She approaches dog training by centering strictly on the positive; she wants nothing more than to help you raise a fun, capable, and confident pup! Ali answers our questions on dog behavior and training issues.
Is There a Best Time to Start a Dog in a Behavior Training Class?
There is a difference between training and behavior. Training applies to the basics; having a dog sit, lay down, and walk calmly on a leash; behavior is more complex and delves into the science of the dog.
Typically, most dogs will never meet a behaviorist as they’re only required for severe issues like separation anxiety or reactivity! But every dog should work with a professional trainer to achieve all that goes into being a good family dog.
As for best time for attending a dog training class? As soon as possible. Attending a training class (digitally, or in person) should begin as soon as you are able to as a good trainer will be able to help you get ahead of behavioral issues before they become ingrained in the dog’s mindset.
What Can I Do at Home Every Day to Work on My Dog’s Behavior?
Two incredibly simple things.
1 – Reward the behavior you want to see (e.g., remaining relaxed, providing polite greetings with guests, and maintaining an overall pleasant demeanor.
2 – Ensure that you’re giving appropriate enrichment depending on what your dog loves or was bred to do (e.g., bull breeds love to tug! And coonhounds love to sniff).
What Do Pet Owners Commonly Do Wrong When They Work on Their Pet’s Behavior?
There’s still a lot of punishment-based techniques used, despite the AVSAB (American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior) definitively stating that these methods are not appropriate. Punishment based methods can actually make the problems worse and it is currently the biggest issue that pet parents get wrong.
Why Is It Important to Train a Dog?
Investing in your dog’s training not only makes the bond stronger between the two of you, it also creates a dog who is easy to live with.
Lots of us do not need a superstar agility dog, we simply want a dog who can go to the vet, walk through the park, go on a hike, be left home alone when necessary, and follow general instructions when you need them to – and of course, provide huge enjoyment to our daily life, and that’s what training does!
What Are Some of the Most Common Behavioral Issues in Dogs and How Do They Vary Between Breeds?
What usually happens is that a dog that we have bred for a specific purpose can take it too far which can become a nuisance, or the dog’s needs are not being properly fulfilled. This also happens more often when a dog is inappropriate for the owner.
Please do remember that a well-bred dog should be well tempered, and appropriate for the home they’re in. A good dog starts with a good breeder.
Typically, where we see the most issues are with the “overbred” and “popular” breeds where breeders are breeding for money and do not practice ethical breeding. For example, recently, the popularity explosion of “Doodles” (Poodle crosses), has created a demand that ethical breeders cannot meet. The same can be said for Golden Retrievers, French Bulldogs, and German Shepherds. In some, the dog’s health is compromised; in others, poor behavior is an issue.
(I really would like to avoid labelling certain breeds, because it’s not the breed, it’s the breeding!)
Attribute to Ali Smith, Founder of Rebarkable and the “Positive Puppy Expert”