Sunday, July 31, 2011

Becoming Responsible- Reliable and Appropriate Training

Irresponsible dog ownership is nothing less than a plague.  That statement may sound a little extreme, but think for a moment.  What is the main reason dogs end up in shelters?  Irresponsible ownership.  Why do you hate your neighbor’s dog? Irresponsible ownership.  Why are dogs not allowed in the park or on the beach? Irresponsible ownership.  Many other limitations, fears, stereotypes, and laws are in place because of irresponsible owners, and every dog owner is affected by them in some way, big or small.  As dog owners, we need to do our part to care for our animals while also being considerate of others.  The following few posts will discuss how we, owners, can make the world a better place for dogs, other owners, and non-owners alike.  Today, we begin with the greatest issue amongst irresponsible owners: failure to provide appropriate and reliable training.

A well-behaved dog is loved by many and hated by few.  They can go anywhere!  Often, dog-haters make exceptions for exceptional dogs.  Every dog owner’s goal should be to have a dog that turns dog-haters into dog-lovers and sets a good example for the species at large.  Not every dog has a chance of achieving that goal, of course, and that’s okay.  No dog is perfect.  No owner is perfect, either.  There will be trials and tribulations as you work towards making your dog a lovable companion for everyone, and that’s expected.  The key is that you are working towards that goal!  Owners with highly aggressive rescues that are vigilant in rehabilitating their animal are to be respected as much, or more, than those with perfectly behaved dogs.  Again, the main thing is that you are working with your dog to improve its behavior.  Everybody benefits from a reliably trained dog—the dog, the owner, and the population at large. 

You must be able to control your dog physically and verbally.  If physical control fails—you drop the leash, for example—then verbal control is all you have.  Unfortunately, training, or lack thereof, is one of the biggest failures of irresponsible owners.  Every dog should readily respond to basic commands in any situation.  “Sit” and “stay/wait” are an absolute must.  “Come” can be a difficult one to maintain, especially if regularly used incorrectly, but reliable recall is necessary in day-to-day lives.  These three commands are essential for basic control over your dog.  More commands, such as"heel" or "down", may be necessary depending on the activities you do with your dog.  It's up to you, the owner, to gauge the minimum training your dog requires.  If your dog does not reliably perform necessary commands, you, your dog, and others are at unnecessary risk. 

Not everyone will love your dog, and in a group-living situation, you must make accommodations for your housemates.  Excessive barking should be actively curbed.  The dog should be trained to leave food alone, whether it is on the counter, the floor, or the table.  The dog should be crate trained, or trained to not destroy a room, so that others have the liberty of not dealing with your dog.  The dog should be taught that taking things from the hands of anybody without permission is unacceptable.  If you rely on others, even occasionally, to care for your dog, the dog must have leash manners and basic socialization as a courtesy to the temporary handler.  Potty training is an absolute must, also.  Under no circumstances is it acceptable for an adult to soil in the house on a regular basis.

If you doubt your skills or your current methods aren’t achieving the desired results, attend an obedience class or hire a private trainer to learn how to train your dog effectively.  No dog is too old to reform its behavior, though breaking old habits will be the toughest of all, for both the owner and the dog.  Finally, remember that training is nothing if not consistent.  Lack of consistency always means lack of desired results.  

Thank you for reading. The next article will be about scooping poop!

1 comment:

  1. I wish more people would be more active in the training of their pups. Reed and I are starting with obedience basics next week. I am prepping him for some agility training! Since Corgis are so intelligent, I know he'll be a fast leaner and I hope he loves it~