Training Furry Friends is Matter of Balance


Special to The Insider

How many times do we hear there must be a balance to life? Everything in moderation. Well, the same goes with our furry friends.

Getting out of balance is why so many humans seek help for their pets. How do we get out of balance? What can I do to stay in balance? 

Getting out of balance is so easy for all of us. When the puppy comes home, we start shaping our wanted behaviors that we would like to see at a year old. Maybe you have had a pet in the past and you feel confident with how that one worked out. Well, they are all different. 

Balance, generally, is limited to rewards, social experiences and discipline. Rewards are so overused it gets you out of balance quickly.

Think of rewards in a system:

* Touch;

* Vocal;

* Touch/Vocal together;

* Toys; and finally,

* Treats.

How often do we bring home a new puppy and start with all these reward systems? Where do you go after all of these have been exploited? Answer: to a trainer to start using loads of treats (while trying to find the highest value).

While using treats, you then enter new environments for social experiences. This portion of balance is straight forward. Using positive experiences such as riding in the car, going into department stores and walks in areas with distractions is very important to balance, but keeping everything positive is the key.

Discipline seems to be tricky. If you are out of balance, it is most likely the reward/nurturing portion. Discipline starts early balancing and can be putting the puppy into a crate for some rest time, maintaining a standard of not allowing onto the couch and “no means no” (not a mere suggestion). It is the consistency of finding the right amount of discipline for your puppy that is generally missed. Not having that mutual respect will present itself as out of balance. 

Being in balance with your pet is a continuous process and not an event. Puppy stages change from weeks to months to years. With an ever-changing maturity comes the process of understanding concepts.

Use the system above to help stay in balance and your experience will be pleasurable. The experience will mirror the expectation.

Neil Copeland is owner of Seven Lakes Kennels.