Pet Training: Tips For Summer Fun - My Family Travels

A professional animal trainer offers advice on how to make Fido or Snickers tag along and behave well.

SeaWorld Orlando animal trainer, Joel Slaven, works with a multi-talented menagerie of dogs and cats — many of whom were deemed "un-trainable" — as part of the park's brand-new "Pets Ahoy!" show.

Most of the show's animals were adopted from local animal shelters before they found fame at the park, and many were originally viewed as unlikely candidates for stardom. But, with practice, patience and a few key training tips (outlined below), Joel proves that even fickle felines and capricious canines can learn new tricks. Summer vacation and that casual road trip is the perfect time and place for you and your children to work on training new pets together.

Key Training Tips for Dogs & Cats

1) Choose behaviors that pets may enjoy doing, such as  "shake,"  "sit" or "stay."

2) Vary the rewards. Use treats, toys, petting and verbal praise.

3) Immediacy is important. Reward pets the instant they perform the correct behavior.

4) If the pet does something incorrectly, ignore it, give no response and try again.

5) Keep training sessions short to avoid frustration and boredom (for both pet and  trainer). Ten- to 20-minute training sessions are suggested.

6) Be patient and positive.

Nationally acclaimed animal trainer Joel Slaven has more than 20 years of animal training experience, with numerous television appearances and major film credits. For SeaWorld's newest show, he directs the training of more than 130 animals, from the initial selection to the shaping of behaviors.

One such success story is Lester, a 3-year-old, bull terrier mix and one of the stars of the "Pets Ahoy!" show.  Lester was surrendered by a previous owner who said the dog was "un-trainable." Lester's story is not uncommon, but it demonstrates that, with patience and practice, it is "paw-sible" to successfully train a pet.

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