Healthy Pet Store supports dog owners to access positive reinforcement methods

Posted on April 2, 2024
Posted in
positive reinforcement

Healthy Pet Store has shared its support for positive reinforcement methods of dog training.

The guidance comes in response to a Royal Veterinary College study which found that puppies bought during the pandemic show high rates of unwanted behaviours such as separation anxiety and aggression towards other dogs and people.  This has led to a huge rise in caregivers resorting to potentially painful and fear-causing training methods.

The managing director of Healthy Pet Store, Deborah Burrows, said ‘pandemic puppies’ were going to struggle as a result of caregivers being home and a lack of exposure to other dogs and people during their early weeks.

A recent BBC report also stated that the UK’s dog population rose to an estimated 11 million after lockdown, with many people becoming first-time owners.  

According to the Royal Veterinary College’s study, some caregivers have been open to using aversive training methods such as rattle bottles, sprays, water pistols, slip lead and choke chain corrections to try to deal with these challenging behaviours – methods which vets say only create more anxiety.

Experienced dog behaviourist, Jeanette Muldoon from The Family Dog Club also said that socialisation must be done correctly and early on to prevent unwanted behaviours in adult dogs.

“Early socialisation, before 16 weeks, in puppies is critical, but it’s just as important that it’s done in the right way for each individual puppy – you can absolutely over socialise as well as under socialise. 

During lockdown, breeders couldn’t have visitors meaning puppies had little experience of being handled before going to their new homes. They also weren’t able to attend classes and experience being around other people, other dogs and things in their environment.”

But the good news for both dogs and their owners is, despite ‘pandemic puppies’ now being three or four years old, Deborah and Jeanette have said there is a fantastic range of tried and tested dog-friendly training methods based on positive reinforcement which will still improve their dogs’ resilience. Both recommend seeking professional help to learn these methods. 

“Whilst prevention is always better than cure, a professional behavioural trainer who understands canine signals and exposure therapy can help clients and these dogs with solid and long-lasting results” said Jeanette. 

Deborah added “Our store provides a range of training gear often used in these therapies and we also offer a quiet, private space for harness and muzzle fittings.”

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