January: National Train Your Dog Month

Sometime in the last decade (just had to say that), the Association of Pet Dog Trainers started a movement to make January a month to celebrate our furry friends and the fun that can be had when spending time training them.

Dogs and owners that take the time to go seek assistance with everything from basic puppy behaviors to general obedience commands are much more content with their pets on the average. Training pets has shown to bond the owners and pets at a deeper level and assures a longer life within their homes. The number of pets in shelters that are trained is low. Those pets with manners are more likely to live out their natural life with owners that invest in training.

Happy Acres, north of town, is just beginning its new schedule for 2020. They have a number of options to offer to new pet owners and existing pet owners. There are classes for general obedience. There are classes for nose work or tricks. There are classes to help start your new puppy off right. As an owner you may learn more than your furry friend attending these classes. Visit www.HappyAcresDog.com to get more information.

Kawa Farms also trains Southwest of Winterset and has a number of opportunities to help your furry friends be more comfortable in their surroundings. They have a website to share all their upcoming opportunities at www.kawafarms.com.

If your schedule or your finances do not permit you to take your furry friends to class, this link has some fun ways to work with your pets at home teaching them tricks. Tricks are fun for everyone and can be a great way to get your furry friends to learn to watch you. Here is a link that you can follow to teach your furry friend some fun tricks. Amaze your friends and family, maybe even yourself!

With the increasing number of people traveling with emotional support pets training is extremely necessary. We see people wanting to have an emotional support pet and their pet is fearful around new people or new situations. You cannot expect a dog or cat to love to fly if they have never been exposed to those environments. Emotional support pets are not allowed the same privileges that are granted to service dogs. This is important to remember.  An emotional support pet needs to have a certificate from a Human Doctor or Therapist. This is not anything that we as veterinarians can authorize.

Therapy dogs and cats are trained to visit nursing homes, schools, airports, trauma locations or disaster areas to ease stresses and fears in people. The training they undergo to be labeled as therapy dogs and cats is extensive.  These pets do not have the same privileges as service dogs either. A good place to start if you are wanting to have a therapy dog is taking a Canine Good Citizen training course and see how both of you do. If you are unable to pass that test, then becoming a therapy dog is probably not in the cards. Therapy pets need to be extremely calm and well mannered. Just loving people is not enough.

Service puppies are started with their specialized training at 8 weeks of age. They undergo daily experiences to help prepare them for their future as a service dog. I wish I could tell you exactly how many puppies fail these service dog programs for one reason or another, but the percentages are high. Adopting or purchasing a puppy or dog from someone to train it yourself to become a service dog is extremely risky. You may end up with a very expensive pet. It is best to apply to receive a service dog from an organization that devotes their time and resources to training dogs to assist humans in their daily lives.

Whatever January temperatures bring to the table, you can be certain that our pets will be excited to spend quality time with us while we wait for signs of spring. Start training today so by the time the warm weather returns we can all get out and enjoy the great outdoors with our trained furry friends. Happy New Year!