Your dog may never be headed for the ring at the Westminster Kennel Club, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be as well-mannered as this year’s Best in Show contenders – well, almost. Along with love, good nutrition and health care, proper training is one of the most important things you can provide for your dog’s long-term health and well-being. In fact, the American Humane Society lists a lack of training as one of the main reasons dogs are surrendered to shelters or re-homed. Poor training can ultimately result in a dog being injured or euthanized. Keep your best friend safe and happy by following these tips for training a well-mannered dog:
Positive reinforcement is the quickest way to teach your dog to repeat a wanted behavior. She lives for your praise and attention, and the liver treats in your pocket! The “Sit” command is typically the first obedience command puppies master because it’s something they do naturally. When she sits, praise her and give her a treat. It won’t take long for her to begin sitting pretty each time you ask. The same method of praise and reward works with even the most complicated set of commands.
Be Quick, but not too Quick
Timing is essential when correcting or rewarding a behavior. A reward should immediately follow the wanted behavior, not before a command has been correctly executed or after it’s already been released. The crucial element of timing is why many people use the clicker method of training. A clicker is a small device that makes a clicking sound when pressed. Using a clicker to reinforce the wanted behavior may help you teach your dog manners.
Keep it Fun
Training should be an enjoyable activity for you and your dog. Keep sessions short, no more than about 5 to 10 minutes for puppies and 10 to 15 minutes for adults. The mental exercise of training can exhaust a young dog quickly. Watch for signs that your dog is getting tired. If she acts “stubborn” or seems disinterested, it may be her way of saying she’s had enough.
Begin and end each training session with play. A little dose of unconditional love and a game of fetch with his favorite ball will have your dog looking forward to his training sessions.
Be Consistent – Be Patient
Teaching your dog to be well-mannered isn’t a “one and done” event. It takes time and repetition for your dog to master new skills and practice to help her remember them. As long as you maintain a positive attitude, respect her abilities and maintain realistic expectations, your dog will soon be exhibiting the kind of manners that will make her welcome in even the most exclusive dog parks!
Reasons to not adopt a dog for your household are valid and many:
“He won’t take care of it!”
“She’ll hurt it!”
“He’ll kill it!”
“She won’t walk it!”
“He won’t feed it!”
“She won’t bathe it!”
“I won’t have the time or patience to pick up his slack!”
“Oh, I don’t do animals!”
But there are quite a few good reasons why Rover could be a great asset to your household (unless you seem to itch and sneeze when you’re around fur). Read on to learn why.
A dog could do a body some good with all the running, walking, jogging and playing your your family will engage in when you interact with Rover. A new study from St George’s University in London revealed that children who had a pet exercised on average ten minute more than those who didn’t own a dog. So the next time you drive by a pet store or animal shelter, give Rover or Fifi the benefit of the doubt. And then lay out the rules and responsibilities for household members to follow. Additionally, owning a pet may offer a prevention of childhood obesity, a tragic epidemic in today’s society.
Emotionally, pets are beneficial, given that they love you unconditionally. Dogs may look up to you and cats may look down at you, but there is no denying the warm feeling you get when they cuddle with you, especially during a breakup or a horrible day at the job. Even children find comfort when mom and dad are fighting or on the verge of splitting up. For the elderly or singles, dogs offer the company of a companion by adding life to an otherwise empty household.
They’re always waiting to welcome you home when you’ve been gone for most of the day. They’re looking to give and receive attention that you all need. And, they give you a reason to divert your attention to other things, other than yourself and your problems.
Studies have found that pets help lower blood pressure. Moreover, studies have found that children who owned a pet experienced less bouts with allergies. The evidence suggests that the toxins found in the mouths of dogs and cats (which pet-owning people are automatically exposed to and develop an immunity to through petting and playing with their pets), help to absorb the allergy-causing agents.
Beyond the medicinal advantages, owning a dog can teach children responsibility. Owning a dog can teach them a thing or two about compassion. And finally, owning a dog can help prevent break-ins and perhaps save your life from a pre-meditated attack.