Victoria Stilwell, in the November 2011 issue of Bark Magazine says that a survey showed that 90% of the dogs in the US have no formal behavior and obedience training. One of the main reasons dogs are returned to shelters, and a common question for me is behavior issues for cats and dogs. Whole Dog Journal‘s behavior expert, Pat Miller, agrees in her many articles.
I teach you to not accept any ailments (see the Early Warning Signs) as “old age”, “its because she was abused as a kitten”, “just the way this dog breed is”, and so one. I say the same is true for behaviors. No excuses. Keep your goal on total health – mental and physical.
Yes, there are a lot of great training books and videos available for DIY.
Yes, there are lots of holistic treatments for specific problems. (email me at HealthyAnimals@aol.com to purchase a report on using homeopathy for behavior issues)
A basic obedience class provides a unique environment that I feel is very necessary in addition to all of the above. When you have a great trainer, and positive training is one good approach, rewards good behavior rather than punishing problems. This builds trust.
Victoria says “…living in a human world comes with certain pressures…”. It is up to you to think like a dog so you can best communicate behaviors needed from your dogs and cats. I love the books by Deb Wood – the Tao of Bow Wow, The Tao of Meow and many more. She helps you see the world from your animal’s historical/genetic perspective. Victoria says, “…set your dog up for success by managing her environment and making it easy for her to do the right thing.” Another author suggested having a “training class” with a human friend. Using no words, get your friend to go to the medicine cabinet and get the aspirin, to get a cloth and clean up a spot on the wall. This is the challenge facing you and your dog or cat. You will so appreciate how well they do adapt to our lifestyles.
Training classes are great for the single dog, even if you have play dates or go to a dog park. By providing a structured environment, a class will imbue great manners in a variety of situations. In the class, you can make the distinction between a behavior problem that is from an ill vital force (which needs treatment) and one that is from poor communication (you can learn how to make clear requests with consequences).
Taking the time to go to classes with your dog, or to “train” your cat (I have even seen agility classes for cats.) deepens the bond you have and sets the stage for an easier, happier relationship from both beings perspective.