Dog training

February is dog training month

Dr. Edward Schettino

When it comes to your canine companion, few things are more important than training. While having a pet in the home can be beneficial and bring us joy in many ways, it also comes with tremendous responsibilities and challenges – and training can go a long way in mitigating those challenges.

The benefits of training are undeniable. Training builds confidence, improves positive social behavior and provides your pet with structure and routine. Plus, the training serves as quality time, strengthening the bond between you and your dog.

Young or old, our pets are constantly learning. If you think your pup could use a little work in the training department, consider following these 5 steps during dog training education month:

  1. Sign up for a course. There are dog training classes for all levels – from puppy kindergarten that covers sitting, staying, and basic manners, to more advanced classes that focus on particular areas of training. Classes also provide an opportunity to chat with other dog owners who may be facing the same challenges as you!
  2. Always focus on positive reinforcement. By rewarding your pet with high-value praise and treats for doing something correctly, the pet is more likely to repeat the behavior.
  3. Be brief. In order to get the most out of training, limit home sessions to around 15 minutes, up to 3 times a day.
  4. Commit to a training program. Our pets thrive when they have a structured routine, and repetition is key to reinforcing your pet’s new skills. When you commit to a workout program and stick to it, you’ll be amazed at the results.
  5. Teach an old dog a new trick. If your dog is fluent in basic commands and you’re both looking for a challenge, consider a particular training area to focus on, which could include nose work, tricks, or even an agility course.

Finally, you can reinforce the skills they already know. We all need to improve our skills from time to time, so whether it’s walking on a leash, sitting/staying, and more, a refresher course might be just what your pet needs. .

If you’re having trouble getting started with training, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) can help.

ARL offers a free pet behavior help line to guide pet owners through a myriad of behavioral issues. To take advantage of this free service, simply call (617) 226-5666 or email [email protected]

ARL also offers dog training classes that range from puppy preschool to advanced training for older dogs, as well as just-for-fun enrichment classes! For more information, visit

Training is a special journey for us and our pets, and the end result is a happy, thriving pet, and a bond that will last a lifetime.

Dr. Edward Schettino is President and CEO of the Animal Rescue League of Boston and holds a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. Questions about animals? Email ARL at [email protected]