The beginning of a new year is often a time when families commit to welcoming a new pet into their homes. The anticipation and excitement of having a new family member can quickly be replaced with stress and an overwhelming feeling of chaos if the proper steps are not taken.

Whether you are adopting a puppy or adult dog, both can benefit from obedience training. Oftentimes, dogs that end up in shelters do so because they did not get the proper training to know what is expected of them.

If you have a new puppy, you will have to contend with potty training, chewing, nipping and lots of barking, jumping and scratching. A new adult dog may have not had the proper training as a puppy. Newly adopted adult dogs respond well to professional dog training when it is applied as soon as the dog is adopted, as the training is viewed as part of the “new house rules.”

Obedience classes are set up a variety of ways — group classes or one on one — and are designed to teach you, the handler, to be consistent with your pet so they learn faster through repetition techniques. These classes are an excellent way for you to learn how to communicate with your dog and develop positive behavior patterns.

The time you spend in an obedience class will help you to understand your dog and teach you how to train your dog to be sociable with other dogs and people. It also is a great bonding experience for you and your new family member.

While obedience training would benefit any dog, if you are experiencing a specific issue, sometimes simple changes at home can correct the problem. For example, if you have a barker, this is often a sign of boredom or fear and usually is seen in dogs that are left outside alone in a yard or in a home for long periods of time. Leaving the television or radio on sometimes helps to provide the background noise they are used to when you are home.

If you are dealing with a bigger issue, such as separation anxiety, food aggression or aggression toward another animal or person, hiring a trainer or behaviorist to come to your home for one-on-one assessment and training may be needed.

Whether you have a new puppy or adult dog in the family, learning to communicate with your pet and setting boundaries early will help set the stage for future, positive behavioral patterns and will lead to a happy home for all.

Upcoming events

ANIMAL RESCUE NEW ORLEANS FUNDRAISER: Brother Martin High School will host an ARNO fundraiser from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Jan. 31 in the Ridgley Center. The event, “It’s Reigning Cats and Dogs,” will include an auction, a dance, a social with food and drinks, a dog parade and ultimately a way to support a great endeavor in our city. The minimum donation to attend the event will be $40 per person and is for adults only. Admission will include food, music, an open bar and an opportunity to bid on some great items. Attire is dressy casual. Donations for the auction and food to be served still are being accepted. Advanced donations by check or credit card must be made in advance. For information, call Cissy Yakelis at (504) 283-1561 or Ginnie Baumann at (504) 669-1908 or email ginnie_baumann@hotmail.com.

SPAY/NEUTER SPECIAL: The Louisiana SPCA Community Clinic is offering $20.15 spay/neuter surgeries from January to August for all pets residing in Orleans Parish. In addition, microchips will be available at a reduced fee of $10 in conjunction with a spay/neuter surgery or wellness visit, and T-N-R for feral cats will be reduced to $10. To make an appointment, call (504) 363-1333. For more information about spay/neuter and other Community Clinic services, visit www.la-spca.org/communityclinic.

Traci D. Howerton is social media editor for Animal Rescue New Orleans, , a nonprofit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. Contact ARNO at arno.advocate@gmail.com, call (504) 571-1900 or visit www.animalrescueneworleans.org.