A Trained Dog Is a Good Dog

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2012-10-02
  • Publisher: Textstream
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A dog can be a wonderful companion with enormous affection for you and your family. His keen senses and alertness can provide you with much-needed protection, but it is important to remember that you must be prepared to care for your pet for the next twelve or more years. Like a child, it will depend on you, not only for its health and well-being, but also for dedicated training in order to become a friendly, well-mannered dog that is a pleasure for you and others. It must also be remembered that we do not live in a dog's world but that our dogs are the ones who must learn to live in a human world. It is therefore our responsibility to adequately prepare them for the unfamiliar environment in which we place them. Society does not punish a child for pulling a dog's tail but will punish the dog for biting that child. Before a handler can train his dog, he must understand what is involved in the training process. He needs to understand what is required from him and the dog in each part of each of the different obedience exercises. He must be able to teach his dog what it is expected to know, help it as much as possible, and make it as easy as possible for the dog. He needs to know about positive reinforcement in order to get the targeted behavior to recur and to reward good behavior. Above all, he needs to know when and how much to praise and what to do when the dog is not performing a task it was taught. All this he cannot learn during the relatively short time he spends each week with the instructor at the club. Six days a week he is alone at home with his dog and needs to continue to build on the training he received at the club. He needs to remember the sequence of training steps and how to break them up into the small component parts to be mastered by the dog. And when he becomes confused, he needs help or notes to refer to! This is what I had in mind when I decided to write these notes on basic dog obedience training. There are many basic training methods from clicker training to the more traditional methods that can be used to train a dog for obedience work. The perfect training method does not exist; otherwise, we would all have had copies made and used on our dogs. No, we are all learning and improving. I have adopted an eclectic approach to dog training-that is, I have, over many years, studied different training methods and selected from them what will work for most dogs. At times, however, I may use a combination of these methods, or I may shift from one method to another, depending on the training need or exercise. What is very important to me is that the reader must not only know about the best methods of teaching dogs today but must understand why a dog behaves the way it does. Above all, it must be remembered that dog training must be fun for both dog and trainer. Most dog owners do not ask much of their dogs: they ask only that the dogs obey some basic commands and that they are well behaved at home and in public. That is why all dogs should, at least, do the Canine Good Citizen test. I hope my notes will add to your knowledge of basic dog obedience training and that your trained dog will bring much joy to you and your family. Jan Meyer BA (SA), MEd DCRT (US), HP (MT)


Puppy's First Year The most important year of its entire life Bringing a puppy into your home is much like bringing a new baby into your home. It becomes your responsibility not only to look after its physical needs but also to teach good manners, socially acceptable behaviour and to set limits. However, since puppies are beautiful, playful and fun it is very often forgotten that the first year of a puppy's life is the most important period in its entire life and the ideal opportunity to establish good habits that will be hard to break. If it is old enough to come home it is old enough to start learning. We need to start young as the puppy passes through the different very set phases of development. During the Teething stage from 2 – 4 months of age a puppy is very dependent on its owner and will come when called and will willingly stay with him or her. A proper foundation needs to be set to maintain its bond with the owners. Getting along with the family and strangers is more important than learning to "sit" or "stay." Dogs that do not get on with people end at rescue places!!! Soon nipping and chewing will get worse. Puppies do not always grow out of it and it can develop into lifelong bad habit if the dog is not actively helped and trained to work through this period otherwise expensive clothing and furniture will suffer damage and proper bite inhibition that is so important will not be established. The first rule is to look after your property and not to allow it to happen. As the pup moves into adolescence it becomes more independent and will not always listen when called and can get lost or stolen. This is the period for more freedom because it now is house trained and as it is allowed freedom of the house also needs supervision, supervision, supervision because it will do what is natural for a dog, jump on furniture, steal food, forget to go outside to pee, poo and will chew anything left lying around. Puppies should not be given too much freedom during their first year. Good behaviour determines the freedom they will be allowed. Having a short leash while indoors is not a bad idea. A clear plan should exist for dealing with the pup when the owners are at home v not at home. During the period of socialization when the dog is introduced to the world he is guided not to be afraid of anything and the following must happen: • The puppy must meet as many men, women, children and things (vacuum cleaner etc.) as possible. • A variety of sounds, smells and different places. • Be protected from being bullied by older dogs. If a puppy learns to be afraid of other dogs, then in adulthood we end up with a fight/ flight situation. Proper feeding, preferably good quality, specifically designed food plus meat helps to develop a healthy, strong dog. Not too much stress on the joints should be allowed. Serious jumping should only begin after two years of age. Obedience classes at a puppy school are a must. Leadership is what a puppy needs. Treat training should only be used during the first month or two and briefly when something new is taught. Puppy must learn to "Sit" and "Stay" until given a release command, "OK" or "Play." Gradually he must learn to ignore distractions. Obedience rules must always be fun for a pup. Your puppy's well-being is in your hands and the very first year of his life is the most important time to set him on the right track to be a pleasure to live with and a wonderful companion to the family.

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