By Jim Tedford, Director of Animal Welfare Initiatives and Alliances
Let me start by admitting that my own dogs are not the most well-behaved you might ever encounter. Hopefully they are not the worst, either. They’re just loveable, spoiled dogs who, like most dogs, want to please. I just haven’t done the greatest job of teaching them everything I’d like them to know. Yes, I work for a company that is known for training solutions. And, yes, I do use and adore many of our products. The truth is I just haven’t made the time commitment to do much in the way of heavy-duty training.
When training our pets, we must first establish goals and realistic expectations. Would you be happy to have a dog who simply walks nicely on the leash without dragging you into the street? Or do you want a dog who competes in agility competitions and obeys your every command? Both are probably realistic expectations provided you are willing to commit the time and effort into achieving the desired results. My “kids” are pretty well-behaved at home and can be taken out in public without too much chaos…and, that’s good enough for me.
I can proudly boast that I did walk into the office this morning with Henry, my Jack Russell Terrier, walking nicely by my side. Thanks to his Easy Walk Harness, there was no pulling! Without his Easy Walk, he is like a 16-pound Clydesdale on the end of a leash. And, even though I’m not there to monitor their behavior, I know that my two Labs, Bodie and Sam, are enjoying their own beds at home rather than lounging on our furniture thanks to the assistance of a few strategically placed Scat Mats.
I recently completed work on the first phase of a new “powered by PetSafe” website, designed to provide basic training advice and solutions to behavior problems for novice pet owners. As I reviewed articles from our expert contributors, I realized that even after 30 years of professional work with dogs I still have much to learn! The site begins by teaching us why training is important and how our canine companions learn. It offers solid advice on the various tools available for training our pets and some common sense approaches to addressing behavior problems many of us encounter.
The site was reviewed by several independent, average pet owners who gave us excellent feedback. One of the most important take-away messages these folks learned from the site is that no two dogs are exactly the same. Each must be treated as the individual she is and her training must be tailored to her unique learning style. In dog training, like in most other things, there is really no one-size-fits-all solution. The site offers a full toolbox of options to try. These tools should be selected carefully based upon your dog’s needs.
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of website is the distinction between issues the average pet owner can address (or attempt to address) on his own versus those problems that require professional intervention. The bottom line—when in doubt, consult a pro. If the problem you are addressing has anything to do with aggression, don’t take chances. Consult your veterinarian or your local humane society for advice and/or referral to an expert trainer.
Training requires an investment of time. But, the payoff is a happy, healthy, well-adjusted best friend for life. What other investments have you made that can match that?
Jim Tedford serves as PetSafe’s Director of Animal Welfare Initiatives and Alliances. Working on the front line of animal welfare for over 20 years, Jim has served as CEO for organizations in New York, Louisiana and Tennessee. Prior to joining PetSafe, Jim provided marketing and fundraising services to animal welfare organizations nationwide. Jim holds a degree in animal science from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Jim and his wife Ann share their “empty nest” in the Smoky Mountains with adopted dogs Bodie, Sam, and Lila and a formerly homeless macaw, Gipper.