I’m sure most trainers will agree with me in saying that it is easier to prevent a problem that treat one. With pets this would mean setting the animals in our homes up for success in a human environment, teaching them the behaviours they will need to live happily with us. Sadly we often expect that our pets will just know what we want, and we wait for them to make a mistake before getting worried.
So what about a pet that is already displaying annoying or unwanted behaviours? When is it enough of a problem to seek the help of a trainer or veterinarian? In my work as a vet nurse I often hear people joking, commenting, or even complaining about the latest string of bad behaviour their pet is displaying. It’s often something minor, like the dog barking at guests, and they’re not asking for advice or a solution – they’re just sharing.
Minor problems, either left untreated or approached in the wrong way, often become major problems over time. That dog that used to just bark at guests? If his owners had of considered that the dog was wary or anxious they could have sought help to change his feelings with people visiting from wary to positive. Instead they scolded him for barking and tried to bring him over to meet new people and get used to them. His anxiety increases, and he starts growling and snapping instead.
It is always easier to address a training or behaviour problem sooner rather than later, and i’m not talking about easier for the trainer or veterinarian you’ve hired to help! You will ultimately be the one following the training program and putting in the time to resolve the problem. Minor problems are usually less challenging for the animals to overcome as well. It’s just all-round easier!
Practice makes perfect – if you notice your pet doing something you’re not entirely happy with, then don’t let him practice it! Look for a force-free training solution, and if you’re not sure how to start then seek help from a professional.