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Training Your Four-Legged Friend

Dec 22, 2014 03:46AM ● Published by Family Features

(Family Features) Man’s best friend can be counted on for many things – from greeting you after a long day at work to being a loyal walking buddy. But to reap all the benefits of dog ownership, it’s important to lay the foundation of training and obedience.

Why train?
An obedient dog is a happy dog, free of restrictions. When a dog acts out, the owner must quickly react – either putting the pet away in a kennel or excluding it from outings and other experiences. On the other hand, an obedient pet enjoys more freedom. They are welcome to greet guests when friends visit, go on car rides and enjoy many other opportunities to be around their favorite person – you.

According to the ASPCA, working together to learn behavior and social skills is a good way to make you and your pet happier, thus reinforcing your bond. Formal training helps teach your dog important commands such as “come” and “sit,” but it also helps shape your furry friend’s manners and teaches you to understand your animal’s temperament – all important qualities for a housemate.

To ensure your training sessions are most effective, you can plan ahead with a few simple steps.

Style matters
First you need to determine what style of training will be most effective for you and your dog. Training can include obedience or behavior, or both. What type of class you need depends on whether you’re looking to instill (or brush up on) the basics or correct problems.

You can find group classes through your veterinarian or local pet store, or you may prefer to have one-on-one sessions with a qualified trainer. Group classes allow your dog to grow comfortable around other people and animals while teaching a standard set of skills. On the other hand, individual sessions can be tailored to specific issues and allow more dedicated attention to your animal.

Genetic cues
It also is helpful to understand your pet’s ancestry. Armed with breed insights, you can gain valuable understanding on behavior, establish a better relationship with your dog and have information to take better care of your dog’s health. Any questions about your dog’s heredity can be answered with a simple test, such as the Wisdom Panel® 2.0 Canine DNA Identification Test.

“A DNA test provides valuable information for the well-being of a dog, from weight range predictions to help with nutrition and diet choices to understanding breed behavior for an effective care and wellness plan,” said Dr. Neale Fretwell, General Manager of Mars Veterinary.

The Wisdom Panel 2.0 tests a dog’s DNA to identify the breeds that make up their mixed-breed dog; reveal the parental ancestry of a “designer” dog; or show whether a dog matches the profile of known purebred dogs in the Wisdom Panel database.

Clear the calendar
Beyond the time you’ll dedicate to attending training sessions, you also need to be sure your schedule will allow you to practice and refine the new skills you learn at home and in other environments. Successful training requires reinforcement outside the classroom on an ongoing basis.

Training lets you and your dog understand one another better, and it’s an important step toward ensuring your four-legged friend is a safe, happy member of the house. For more information about the Wisdom Panel 2.0 test or to purchase it, visit www.wisdompanel.com.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Sponsored by Mars Veterinary

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