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Start the New Year on the right paw

Amanda Kowalski

Special to the Village News

We've all heard that you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but this actually couldn't be further from the truth! Contrary to the old saying, it's never too late for dogs of any age to learn new behaviors and skills. If your pooch has developed poor manners, gets anxious when left alone or is in the critical puppy socialization period, this is your sign to put training at the top of your resolutions list.

In honor of National Train Your Dog Month this January, we encourage pet owners to embark on a journey of positive change with their canine companions. At San Diego Humane Society, we understand that behavior issues can be overwhelming, often leading to pets being surrendered to our shelters. However, most owners can overcome these challenges through the understanding of positive reinforcement training, patience, and the right support.

San Diego Humane Society has developed a robust Behavior & Training program that includes classes and resources for every budget, schedule and unique need. We offer:

* More than 40 in-person and online classes for dogs and cats, including puppy and kitten socialization, foundational skills, special interests like scent work and private lessons for one-on-one advice and training.

* A free "Ask a Trainer" resource and Behavior Helpline that connects you with certified professionals to discuss your unique needs.

* Online articles, resources and monthly emails with tips and tricks that address a variety of behavioral topics.

* A Pet Training Assistance Fund that provides free or reduced-cost training to underserved pet owners in need.

This program has been essential in helping our organization Stay at Zero euthanasia of healthy or treatable shelter pets by providing support that goes above and beyond what is typically offered in shelter environments and diverting owner surrenders. Pet guardians have found great success by applying what they learn through these resources to help their pets.

Lauren is one such owner who initially sought support to manage her dog Penny's reactivity and separation anxiety – behaviors that often land animals in shelters when frustrated owners hit a breaking point.

After taking San Diego Humane Society's "Reactive Rover: Mat Work" class, Lauren reports that Penny is much calmer around the house and that she has learned to check-in with Lauren when a trigger is present. By proactively addressing Penny's challenging behaviors in a constructive and positive way, Lauren reduced stress for both her and her beloved pet. And here's the good news – you can too!

Visit to view the resources available to you and begin improving your relationship with your pet, minimizing stress and guiding your dog toward the behaviors you'd like to see.

Amanda Kowalski, MS, CPDT-KA, UW-AAB, CAWA, is VP of Animal Welfare, for the San Diego Humane Society.


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