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Healthy Dogs

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Does Your Dog Need Obedience School?

Find out when it's time to send Fido to dog obedience school.
WebMD Pet Health Feature

A horse may not drink when he’s led to water, but puppies and dogs are a different story -- if they’re properly schooled.

Dog training school teaches a variety of essential commands and techniques that can make your canine a happy camper and your life easier in the process.

Here's expert advice on when to sign up your pup, how to choose obedience training, and whether to consider some personal coaching, as well as school, to encourage good behavior in your dog.

Start Young

Puppies between 8-12 weeks make the best students because they haven’t formed bad habits, although owners don’t typically sign up for class until their pets are between 6-12 months of age, says Pamela Reid, PhD, CAAB, vice president of the Animal Behavior Center at ASPCA Animal Health Services in Urbana, Ill.

But "most people only begin dog training after their puppy starts to annoy them, or their teenager is really pushing the limits," Reid says.  

"It’s important to remember that puppies are like little kids. And like little kids, they're uncoordinated, easily distracted, and gentle," says Steven Applebaum,  president and director of Animal Behavioral College, a school in Northridge, Calif., that trains dog trainers via the Web and externships at shelters throughout the U.S.

Applebaum suggests attending obedience class every year or two -- three years, at the most -- and practicing school lessons at home. "It’s a positive activity, and a great way to bond with your dog," he says.

Reid agrees. "The more you go, the better you get," he says.

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