Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Dog Training Basics

Before the economy became another contributor to the painful surrender of family pets to shelters, the main reason was a lack of training and a lack of research into the choice of a dog for each situation. So many people make the decision to get a dog without looking into how that particular breed or breed cross will fit into their lifestyle. We all remember the "101 Dalmatians syndrome". Parents took their children to see this family movie and the puppies were oh so cute that the number of Dalmatians sold took a huge increase. All without anyone looking into the specifics of the breed. These dogs were bred to be carriage dogs, that means they can travel for miles, they have a great prey drive and are extremely high energy. All these cute puppies grew up to be very unmanageable in small yards with small children and soon the shelters were over run with Dalmatian adolescents. Unfortunately most were euthanized.

The first lesson here, is do your research. What type of dog will fit into your daily life for the next 10 to 20 years? Do you jog every day, take hikes on the weekend? Or are you away from home eight to ten hours a day and come home,have dinner and sit on the couch for the rest of the evening? If the former is your way of living, then a high drive, high endurance dog would fit into your life. If the latter description fits you better, than a low energy, medium to small dog that will do well with a couple of walks a day is better for you. Don't go to a dog agility show and fall in love with Border Collies; go out and get one, then expect him to wait patiently for you to come home after being gone all day and find your yard in one piece. The dog's inherent breed characteristics must be considered before you make your choice. Talk to the breeder, talk to people who have the particular breed you are interested in before you make a mistake. This is a life long commitment to this animal.

The next lesson here is training. After you have done your research and found your perfect match, now you must train him. Dogs, like children need boundaries, they need to know what exactly is expected of them. Don't assume that they can read your mind and know that you don't want them on the couch, that you don't want to beg while you eat, that they can't pee in the living room or bark at the cat. It is your responsibility to show your dog how to behave. All puppies must learn the basics and they are never too young to learn. Dr. Ian Dunbar, DVM and Animal Behaviorist, says that puppies should be housebroken, crate trained and know how to sit, lay down, walk on a leash, allow you to look in their mouth and touch their feet before they are six months old. And it is easier than you think. And all of it is done with positive re enforcement. You never need to be mean to a dog while training them, they learn very fast with love and patience and lots of cookies. When done correctly, the basics give you a solid foundation upon which to build all future training with your dog. Be kind, be consistant, be patient, do not rush your training, wait your dog out, he will comply.

Next blog....... Sit vs. Sit, sit SIT!

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