Do You Have A Well-Mannered Dog?
Does your dog do things that drive you nuts? Does your dog think his name is “NO!”? Do you wish that your dog fit into your household better? Don’t despair! There is hope!
Good dogs don’t just happen . . . they’re trained. Training your dog not only improves and strengthens your relationship together but also enables you to communicate more effectively with your dog. Dogs are not born understanding English – it’s a second language for them. When you train your dog, you help him learn how to understand what you want. And, I imagine what you want is for your dog to live peacefully and respectfully in your household. Dogs are not little humans in furry clothes . . . they are another species! And, we being humans, and hopefully the smarter species, it is up to us to use our bigger brains to get what we want. In other words, we need to outsmart our dogs, because, if you’re not training your dog, your dog is training you.
Don’t think that your dog’s bad behavior will magically go away, or that your dog will outgrow it. The behavior will only get worse if you don’t do something about it. From about 5 months of age to 2 years, your dog is in the adolescent stage . . . think teenager! This is a challenging time. But, it’s never too late to train your dog. Even old dogs can learn new tricks.
The good news is that if you are having problems with your dog, it can definitely be improved. You can stop a lot of unacceptable behaviors with management techniques, while at the same time work on the training aspect so your dog learns self-control, and understands what is acceptable. So, what exactly is a well-mannered dog?
A well-mannered dog is a dog that:
- Greets people politely
If your dog is jumping up to say hi to people, teach him an incompatible behavior such as sitting. He can’t jump if he’s sitting! Your dog can learn to automatically sit upon a person’s approach.
- Walks on a loose-leash
Walking nicely by your side may be one of the most challenging skills to teach your dog. Fortunately, there is new, humane equipment such as the Easy Walk Harness and Gentle Leader Head Collar that will help prevent pulling without hurting your dog, while you teach your dog the ins and outs of loose-leash walking.
- Plays appropriately with people and toys
Very often, we inadvertently teach our dogs to play inappropriately by rough-housing with them. It is best to avoid rough play altogether, especially for safety’s sake. Children need to always be supervised with dogs, and play must be safe and controlled. Visit The Online Dog Trainer to learn more about keeping dogs and kids safe together.
Use playtime as a training opportunity. Teach your dog to “give” politely before ever initiating gentle tug-o-war so your dog will drop the toy on cue. What do you do if teeth touch skin? All the fun abruptly stops and the game is over. Your dog will quickly learn to be careful not to put his mouth on you if you simply walk away when the play turns rough! To prevent your dog from jumping up and grabbing toys, have your dog sit politely before throwing a ball or toy. Turn your back or stop the game and walk away if he acts rudely.
- Knows to sit, down, stay, come, and leave it
Basic obedience is a necessity for all dogs and it’s easy to teach your dog these foundation skills using reward-based training. Your dog will think it’s fun and want to train with you when you reward good behavior. You will also be providing mental stimulation for your dog when you train him.
- Accepts handling, nail trimming, and grooming
Your dog needs to be physically cared for and also know how to behave politely when visiting the veterinarian. Teach your dog from a young age, that good things happen when they are handled and restrained. If your dog is older and you have difficulty with handling and grooming, you will need to use classical conditioning and desensitization to help your dog “change his mental tape” so that things that he finds unpleasant are associated with the good stuff. Using high-value treats is an easy way to help convince your dog that scary things or places are good things after all.
- Has good door manners; does not charge out the door
Sitting politely and waiting to be given permission to go out the door is not only polite but safe as well. Dogs who charge out of doors are at risk of running away and even being hit by a car.
- Is not destructive
Destructive behavior can be prevented with proper management, such as using crates and gates to restrict your dog’s freedom. Getting your dog addicted to errorless chew toys from the start is also an ideal way to prevent destructive behavior.
- Is housetrained
Vigilance on your part, using crates, and gates to restrict your dog’s freedom, and rewarding your dog for going outdoors, will make housetraining a breeze. If you are having difficulty with housetraining your dog, consult your veterinarian, as it may be a medical problem.