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Written by leading veterinarians to provide you with the information you need to care for your pets.

The Daily Vet by petMD

The Daily Vet is a blog featuring veterinarians from all walks of life. Every week they will tackle entertaining, interesting, and sometimes difficult topics in the world of animal medicine – all in the hopes that their unique insights and personal experiences will help you to understand your pets.

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Aah, the joys of puppyhood: sleepless nights, soiled carpets, chewed shoes and other seemingly endless challenges to one’s sanity. I’m eternally grateful that the powers having influence over canine trainability were gracious with my dog, Cardiff, who has evolved into well behaved adult.

Of course, Cardiff did not train himself to acclimate to my imposed standards of appropriate conduct in a human run world. "Puppy Cardiff" and I attended months of clicker training classes and we currently engage in ongoing positive reinforcement exercises. He and millions of other domesticated canines require consistent discipline to maintain composure in high and low stimulus environments.

Many of my clients seek advice on addressing canine and feline behavior problems (did you catch me on season two of Animal Planet’s My Cat From Hell, featuring "Stella" and "Polly"?), so I integrate western and eastern veterinary perspectives to explore potential underlying medical causes and recommend a holistic blend of treatment. Despite my experience, I don’t market myself as a behaviorist and I feel like a fledgling in the vast realm of experts who have undertaken companion animal training as their profession.

Therefore, to provide my petMD readers with a variety of perspectives, I sought advice from my circle of renowned pet trainers on the best means of positively shaping the behavior of impressionable pooches.

Nikki Moustaki

Nikki Moustaki is an award winning freelance writer, dog and bird trainer, pet industry expert, and founder of the philanthropic Pet Postcard Project.

"Clicker training using operant conditioning is an amazing way to get consistent and reliable behaviors from your puppy right from the start. Before considering a training method that uses corrections, which is not fun for the dog or the human, consider learning how to clicker train. It's 'going the extra mile,' but wouldn't your dog do that for you?"

Darlene Arden

Darlene Arden, CABC, is a speaker and multi-published author of books on both canine and feline behavior, including the newly released, The Compete Cat’s Meow.

"Instead of a cervical (neck) collar, use a chest harness to prevent any pressure on your puppy's trachea (windpipe)."

I wholeheartedly agree with Arden and greatly appreciate her goals for promoting safe training from the perspective of health. Besides the potential for harm to the trachea, there is also the potential for the esophagus, blood and lymphatic vessels, vertebrae, intervertebral discs, facets (small joints connecting the vertebrae), spinal cord, and muscles of the neck to be adversely affected by abrupt leash tugs on a cervical collar.

Andrea Arden

There is more than one Arden in the pet expert realm; Andrea Arden is a multi-certified dog trainer, author of Barron’s Dog Training Bible, and a familiar presence on Animal Planet shows, including Dogs 101.

"Invest in 5-10 durable, hollow, rubber toys that can be filled with your dog’s normal meals and special treats. These sorts of enrichment toys provide a much needed outlet for some of your pup's mental and physical energy and will keep your puppy happily occupied 'hunting' for its food. This helps prevent an endless list of unwanted behaviors, such as inappropriate chewing and excessive barking."

Laura Nativo

Laura Nativo starred in CBS’s Greatest American Dog, hosted the Game Show Network’s Dog Park Superstars, serves as creative director of Petsami, is a certified APDT dog trainer, and accompanies me on vigorous "business hikes" with our dogs (we are "so LA").

"As soon as your veterinarian gives you the go-ahead, introduce your puppy to as many new environments, people, and other pets as possible. Many common behavioral issues like excessive barking, resource guarding, and fear and leash aggression stem from missed opportunities for puppy socialization. Puppies that are well-socialized and trained in a variety of settings have the best chance of growing into happy, confident and well-mannered adults. Make it a priority to socialize your dog every day, whether on a walk, hike, at the dog park, the local coffee shop, or in a puppy kindergarten class! Your dog will love it, and so will you!"

Greg Kleva

As the authoritative opinions of women seemingly dominate the animal-care fields, I’m compelled to share tips from “one of the guys.” Greg Kleva is the host of It's A Dog's Life on the Martha Stewart Radio Blog, a Pet Travel Safety Ambassador for Toyota’s Pet Expert Team (P.E.T.), and a Grand Master Trainer for Bark Busters (NJ).

"Reduce your puppy’s boredom by providing plenty of mental stimulation. Simple training exercises and education is very tiring for a puppy’s brain. Make games out of training … keep session short and light, but test your puppy to think, think, think. Try ‘Follow the Leader’ exercises (to reinforce following/walking/heel), 'Hide-n-Seek' (to reinforce coming when called), and 'Sit/Stay' at feeding time. Be consistent, calm, and never use physical means to correct your dog."

— 

A big thank you to all of my pet training pals for sharing their informative tips on the emotionally challenging, yet entirely worthwhile undertaking of puppy training.

Dr. Patrick Mahaney

Image: Cardiff jumps through a hoop for Dr. Mahaney

Comments  6

Leave Comment
  • Puppies!
    03/20/2012 07:45am

    I think Nikki Moustaki gives the best advice regarding the work it requires to train (and keep training) a puppy:

    "It's 'going the extra mile,' but wouldn't your dog do that for you?"

    So true. So true.

  • 03/22/2012 01:54am

    Thank you for your comments.
    Yes, I think Nikki's suggestions (and those of my other pet training experts) rock as well! Nikki has unique perspective, as she is quite the bird trainer as well. If I had a bird, I'd call on her for advice.
    Yes, training is worth all the time spent to promote the best behavior and quality of life for our pets (*and us).
    Dr PM

  • Thinking puppies!
    03/22/2012 01:23pm

    I love Greg Kleva's advice to help your puppy think by providing mental stimulation and games. Make it fun for you and your dog, but make sure you take the time to train and educate her. This so important and will help her to learn to make good decisions as she grows.

  • 03/24/2012 12:45am

    Thank you for your comments.
    I feel as though a dog's need for fun and mental stimulation extends well beyond the puppy years! I know of so many adult dogs that ultimately exhibit behavior problems as a result of lacking proper exercise and mental stimulus.
    Don't let such happen to your dog!
    I hope to see you back again on my The Daily Vet column.
    Dr PM
    www.PatrickMahaney.com
    Twitter @PatrickMahaney

  • come here
    03/22/2012 04:37pm

    I have to say the most important thing you can ever teach you dog, hands down, is the dogs name.

    everytime your pup looks at you, say its name and treat. take your pup out on walks and when it looks back at you say its name and treat.
    Take a clicker, ask your puppy to sit, when it looks up, you click and treat.
    In the home in a quiet room get two people to sit on each side. The first person says the dogs name ( once) and waits, when the dog comes over give a treat, then the second person says the dogs name ( once) and so on...keep going back and forth. Only use the dogs name when you are calling it and only say it once. Never scold the dog if it does not come. Never call the dogs name to make it come for some sort of punishment.

    The dog and its name should always be associated with something wonderful, treats, walks, games. If your dog can come when called it can save its life.

  • 03/24/2012 12:46am

    Great comment and suggestion!
    Having your dog know his/her name in a positive association is SO important. I cringe when I hear dog owners scold their dog using the dog's name. In doing so, why would the dog actually want to come when called? I certainly would not!
    Thank you,
    Dr PM

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