Don’t surrender pets to a shelter. Send in a pro to reverse bad behavior, says Utah trainer

Mar 28, 2024, 6:00 PM


Sacred Hearts School third grade students pet Quincy, a comfort dog with Assistance Dogs of Hawaii, at Sacred Hearts Mission Church on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023, in Lahaina, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Mengshin Lin)

(AP Photo/Mengshin Lin)

SALT LAKE CITY — In February, to spare pets from euthanasia, Gov. Spencer Cox declared 2024 a no-kill year at all Utah animal shelters. If you can’t handle your dog’s behavior problems and want to surrender it, don’t burden a shelter, call in a professional, a Utah dog trainer advises.

According to data from Best Friends, 47 out of 60 shelters across the state are no-kill. So far, 45,538 cats and dogs have been saved. The total save rate is 87.8%, while 1,700 cats and dogs have been killed. This information comes from the most recent data from Utah shelters for the years 2021, 2022 or 2023).

Utah to become largest no-kill state in the country, Gov. Cox declares

Many people surrender their pets due to behavior issues, which owners can’t tolerate or control.

According to The Zebra:

  • Roughly 6.5 million animals enter shelters each year but only 3.2 million are adopted. (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)
  • In 2020, 32% fewer dogs and 23% fewer cats entered animal shelters; euthanasia decreased by 44%. (Spots.com)

Ask Utah expert about pets

Wayne Ogden of Bar T Kennels Training in Koosharem (Sevier County, Utah) joins Dave and Debbie to discuss ways owners can manage the unwanted behavior of their pets.

Trainers are good at spotting and correcting problems with dog behaviors, he said.

“[Dogs] need your time, training, direction, patience, consistency, love and overall that, they really want and need leadership,” he said. “That’s something I think a lot of trainers can provide for people that are having problems with their dogs.”

Ogden said don’t wait, train your puppy early.

“We normally don’t take anything before eight weeks, but [between] eight to 10 weeks dogs are ready to learn. They’re ready to please you, and do what you’re asking them to do,” he said.

Train pets the right way

When it comes to training a puppy, he said some prefer a more disciplined approach and others chose a less aggressive approach, but Ogden said the key is to strike a balance.

“Dogs thrive on love and praise. They thrive on being told ‘no’ and then immediately being told ‘good boy’ [or] ‘good girl’ as soon as they have done what they’re supposed to do.

“So a dog needs to learn what ‘no’ means. They need to learn boundaries, but they also need that love and praise [and that’s] the reason they’re going to continue to do things for you,” Ogden said. 

The wonderful part of owning a dog is they can be trained at almost any age, he said

“We’ve trained and worked with dogs as old as 10 and 11 years old, and they’ve done great. They’ve done fabulous and changed what they were doing wrong or the issues they were having have been able to be reversed within days, and we we love that.”

But if a dog is overly aggressive — and beyond the owner’s control — it’s probably time for a professional, he said.

“Anything with aggression . . . you definitely need an experienced trainer. You definitely need someone that deals with aggression and can work with it.”

But he said 95 percent of negative dog behavior can be changed for the better.


Fawn’s Family Rescue provides a lounge to relax with adoptable cats

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Don’t surrender pets to a shelter. Send in a pro to reverse bad behavior, says Utah trainer