GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Many over the last few years have brought home a new four-legged family member, but have you taken the time to train your dog to be the best they can be? January just so happens to be National Train Your Dog Month when we are reminded why proper training is so important not only for our young dog but for any four-legged family member you bring home. Happy Tails Dog Training teaches positive reinforcement training which they have found to be extremely successful.
Bringing home a new furry family member is an exciting time, but also the time to train and bond with your dog to start building a clear line of communication. Happy Tails Dog Training is all about positive reinforcement teaching your dog the behaviors you want before they make mistakes.
Melissa Simpson, Owner & Head CPDT-KA Trainer said, "Rewarding offered behaviors that you like from your dog, rather than saying no all the time? That is probably the biggest mistake owners make is they just walk around saying no, no, no. What you should actually be doing is saying yes, and rewarding. Offer behaviors that you like from your dog."
Simpson says they teach the owners and the dogs in their classes. Dog parents need to fully understand their dogs to help them learn which is best done with rewarding good actions.
Simpson said, "There's a lot of scientific studies out there that back this up. When you punish a dog, you get two things that happen. Either the dog shuts down, or the dog finds a different way to do things on their own."
Happy Tails says the sooner the better to build that bond with your dog through training and play. Puppies as young as 10 weeks old can start taking classes.
"So it's very safe environments. So the sooner the puppies start, the better off you are. If you adopt a dog from a shelter, we typically recommend you build a bond with that dog. First, give the dog a month or two in your home, you can still start training at home, but get to know the dog first to make sure they're comfortable in a group class," said Simpson.
Puppies first learn to connect to their owner and then learn the basics… sit, lay down and come are all entry-level commands Happy Tails teaches. From a dog’s perspective, this can all feel like a rewarding game.
"One of the big things we like initially eye contact, so we reward it mostly offered eye contact, we want the doctor look at our face, reward, reward, reward, name recognition is huge," said Simpson.
Every dog learns differently and has different needs which makes training that much more difficult. Trainers don’t suggest to google your way through training your dog when there are certified trainers to help you every step of the way.
Simpson said, "It's overwhelming. It's confusing, you'll get too many answers from too many different sources. Coming into a professional trainer is just like going in to see your doctor."
Adding dogs to your family is fantastic but training with professionals like happy tails training is crucial before any problems arise or get worse. Training and learning is a lifelong activity for a dog, which Happy Tails says you can use enrichment tools such as a lick mat, kong and puzzle treat dispenser at any age. Plan ahead with your puppy training or even dog reactivity help which Happy Tails has a program for as well.