A Guide to Dog Behavior, From Social Skills to Commands

A well-trained dog isn’t just fun to show off to your friends, good behavior is important for a happy, healthy bond between you and your best furry friend. CEDARCREST Animal Clinic is home to one of Virginia’s distinguished dog specialists, and we have developed this guide of expert advice to help you understand your dog’s behavior and how to teach them several essential commands.

Socialization & Training

Most of the dogs surrendered to the SPCA and rescue groups wind up there for behavioral problems; however, most behavioral issues can be headed off if a puppy receives proper socialization and training early on. Like people, puppies have a formative age and the best time for learning good social habits is between 4 weeks and 4 months of age. During this time, puppy’s developing brains are best suited to adapt to new stimuli, which includes interacting with people, other animals, objects, and dealing with a variety of situations. So, take your puppy to a friend’s house, to the dog park, to meet the neighbor’s cat (if their owner is okay with it), and definitely visit a licensed veterinarian to get your puppy vaccinated!

If you have already adopted, or are planning to adopt, an older dog and feel you missed your window to train them, it’s not too late! CEDARCREST Animal Clinic can help you teach your old dog new tricks, and even help calm their anxieties as they adjust to a new home.

Commands Every Dog Should Know

Those early months of puppyhood are also when you should be training your dog to obey commands, such as “Sit,” “Stay,” “Come,” “Stop,” and “Drop it!” Mastering these commands can help keep your dog safe in a variety of real-world situations.

Sit! Stay! a well-behaved dog is a pleasure to be around, and one who will sit and stay on command won’t be jumping on visitors or rushing out of an open door.

Stop!  Come! Have you ever seen a dog begin to dart toward the street? Teaching your dog to stop dead in his tracks or to return to you on command can help prevent serious injury.

Drop it! If your dog puts something potentially poisonous or dangerous in their mouth, it is essential to teach them to drop it on command. Basic command training should begin as soon as you bring home a new dog and continue throughout their lives.

Training should begin as soon as you bring home a pet and continue throughout their lives.

Once a dog has mastered a command, it should be reinforced periodically. Training gives your dog or cat a mental workout, it keeps the brain engaged, which helps to keep your pet happy and healthy! Consistency is the key to any training program. We recommend positive reinforcement training methods by rewarding desired behaviors, instead of punishing for unwanted behaviors. And rewards don’t always have to be treats. Your dog thrives on the positive energy and attention you give it. Outdoor play will go a long way, and the Shenandoah Valley has plenty of outdoor spaces that are suitable for dogs of all sizes and temperaments.

If your dog is having serious behavioral issues, or you are considering surrendering it for adoption, please contact our office for a consultation. Many behavioral problems can be addressed with the right guidance from our veterinarians.

CEDARCREST Animal Clinic provides medical and surgical care for every stage of your pet’s life including preventive wellness care exams and vaccines, spays/neuters, and a variety of specialized care for your dog, cat, avian, or exotic. We are home to the only veterinarian practitioner in Virginia to be double Boarded in Avian and Canine/Feline care and provide care for birds, small mammals, and reptiles of all sorts! Plus, we are home to Virginia’s most exclusive dog boarding resort that includes heated floors, an expansive play area, and even webcams so you can watch your pet while you’re away. We’re located in Fishersville, Virginia, and serve Augusta County and surrounding areas including Waynesboro, Staunton, Harrisonburg, and Charlottesville. 

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