New Bolton Center Kennett Square, PA
Emergencies & Appointments:
Ryan Hospital Philadelphia, PA

Resources for Clients & Patients

dog, Penn Vet, Ryan Hospital, behaviorWhen you adopt a companion animal, whether from a shelter or a breeder, whether your new family member is a dog or cat, it will help develop good relationships if you learn some simple concepts.

For example, if you introduce a puppy or kitten to your home, your new pet may not know yet about proper housetraining. There are ways to teach your new family member where, when, and what to do that aren't punitive or threatening.

Or you may own a pet that may have become ill and your veterinarian has prescribed medication. What's the best way to administer medication to an animal?

If you want a happy dog or cat, it's important to provide your animal with a stimulating experience during the day, especially if they live primarily indoors. Because dogs and cats love to hunt, introducing a kong can help entertain them as well as manage their weight.

Below are some resources you can use, either as stand-alone recommendations, or in conjunction with your visits to our service.

Behavior Medicine

Appointments: Call 215-746-8387 
Please make sure to request a behavior appointment.

Questions about your appointment?

Support Behavior Medicine

Puppy Socialization Class

This science based socialization and training program addresses puppy socialization to other dogs and people, introduction and exposure to novel stimuli (sounds, surfaces, objects), low stress handling, practical reward based training and discussion of topics including housebreaking, crate training, feeding, limiting unwanted behaviors (chewing, mouthing and jumping behaviors) and recognizing dog body language.

What we do:  

  • We use operant and classical conditioning to modify a dog's behavior, to teach him or her to be a better canine citizen and family member.  
  • We use positive reinforcement and negative punishment.
  • In positive reinforcement, we add something that the dog likes to a situation, in order to make his behavior more likely to recur.
  • In negative punishment we remove something he likes in order to make a behavior less likely to recur. 
  • We do not use positive punishment (applying something the dog does not like, in order to make a behavior less likely to recur).
  • The neurobiology of behavior and learning are introduced in the first class, which is humans only.
  • We also use classical conditioning, to make positive associations with novel objects, surfaces, other dogs, and people; this is especially crucial for dogs in the puppies' age group.

To learn more about our Puppy Socialization class, contact Behavior Medicine at:

Phone: 215-898-3679

Penn Vet Behavior Medicine: Client Resources
  Handout Title (PDF) Summary
Finding the Right Trainer
Before your new dog chews everything in the house, it might be time to find a good trainer. Here are some tips on what you should look for.
Body Language Basics
Your dog is always talking to you using body language. Learn what your dog is trying to tell you and how to respond.
Tips on Housetraining
Your dog may be on cute overload, but a little housetraining goes a long way. Learn the basics.
Providing a Safe Haven
Everybody needs some down time, even your dog. Learn what makes your dog feel safe and comfortable.
Fear of Thunderstorms & Fireworks
Sudden loud noises make anybody jump, but for cats and dogs, it can be particularly frightening. Here are some tips on how to help your animals feel safe in thunderstorms, fireworks, and other big noises.
Medicating Your Cat
Your vet has prescribed medicine, but your cat isn't looking very compliant. How can you get your kitty to take medication? Here are some tips.
Dogs & Babies
Are you adding a baby to your family? Or maybe you have a baby, and you want to introduce a dog. Here are some recommendations on keeping everyone safe and happy.
About Basket Muzzles
There may be times when you might need to use a muzzle for your dog. Learn what type is safest and how to introduce this to your dog in a gentle and effective manner.
 Kong Stuffing (SFSPCA) Dogs and cats love to hunt for their food. Stuffing a kong is a great way to provide your animal with some creative play, along with managing any overeating behaviors.

Penn Vet's Training Tips for Dogs

Have a Plan That Is Practical and Pleasant

You may choose to train your dog yourself, go to classes or hire a trainer to come to your home. Trainers should use positive, non-forceful methods. Classes should be small, well-organized and held in an area without distractions. Training should be enjoyable for you and your dog.

Teach Life Skills

Behavior Medicine, Penn VetBasic training should focus on practical skills that make your dog a manageable and pleasant companion. “Sit” is useful to control jumping, “come” will bring your dog back to you, “stay” or “wait” will keep him from rushing into situations that could be hazardous and “look” will get his attention when you need it.

Reinforce Learning

Food treats are used to reinforce a behavior you want. They give you a way to get and keep his attention and make him an eager participant in training. Treats are given for each correct response while training a behavior, and less frequently once the behavior is well learned. Treats can be ordinary or exciting, depending on the difficulty of what you are teaching.

Train in Short Sessions

Training sessions are most effective when they are short—five minutes or less. Repeated short sessions working on a skill are most effective. Always try to end on a positive note, asking your dog to do something he already knows well.

Be Persistent and Enthusiastic

Persistence is the key to success—don’t give up after a short time. Continue to work on the things you want your dog to learn with enthusiasm and food treats. Over time you’ll accomplish your training goals.

Teach One Stage at a Time

Begin training a behavior in a setting with no distractions. When your dog is very reliable in that setting, move to settings with more distractions—for example, from a living room to a deck to a yard to a park or neighborhood. Each move will require review—starting slowly and clearly with very desirable food treats in the new setting.

Know Your Dog's Limits

Don’t try to use any training cue such as “sit” or “come” in a real-life situation until the dog is nearly perfect with it in practice sessions. If you ask for a behavior a dog is unlikely to be able to perform, you risk making the cue word meaningless or confusing. This takes patience, but it’s important.

Use Your Best Tool—Your Voice

It isn't necessary to touch a dog to train a dog. Good trainers and good books and DVDs can show you how to train “hands free."

Assess Your Progress

If your dog seems stubborn or is a slow learner, review both your training methods and the setting in which you are working. You may need a quieter area with no other people or animals present, better treats or help with your own skills.

Know When to Call the Experts

Dogs don’t know when they have done something wrong. They do know when you are upset or angry, though, and will get upset themselves. This will make training difficult and unpleasant for both of you. The Behavior Service at Ryan Veterinary Hospital can help if you encounter serious problems in training your dog. Please leave us a message at 215-898-3679 or e-mail