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I hear from a lot of people that they either have a problem training their pooch to be the perfect one, or they know someone who’s four-legged friend gets into all kinds of trouble all the time. Personally, I have a lot of respect for Paul Owens, the author of The Dog Whisperer. And he would tell you that the same parenting principles that kept us safe and helped us to learn, grow and shape our behaviors as children also works with dogs. All unwanted behaviors in dogs can be relieved by applying some good, proactive parenting skills.
Good dog parenting is all about:
- Health and Safety
- Setting realistic goals
- Being consistent
- Using non-violent discipline
- Stimulating mental and physical growth with play and exercise
- Making sure your dog has has quiet time and a place to get away from it all
Health and Safety:
Successful training does depend on you and your dog’s development skills – but his health must always be first. Making an appointment with your veterinarian and having regular check ups is the key here.
Setting realistic Goals:
Older or larger dogs can;’t always do what younger of smaller dogs can do and visa-versa. Train at your dog’s individual learning rate and take his physical and emotional abilities into consideration.
A dog’s temperament and his ability to handle stress are directly related to his ability "predict the future". If you feed your dog at set times, play and walk at set times, groom and massage at set times, he will learn to relax and remain calm at other times. This doesn’t mean you should become a prisoner to a schedule ot that spontaneity is lost; dogs have to learn to roll with life’s ups and downs. It simply means that doing some things routinely through the day can dramatically improve his stress management skills.
Using Non-violent Discipline:
Some people think that using restrain and confinement is cruel and inhuman. Since positive training is all about flow, rather than physically competing with the dog, they question how restraint and confinement could even be considered. Restraining mean putting a dog on a leash. Confining means putting him behind a barrier such as a gate, exercise pen, fence or dog run. Think of a parent holding a child by the hand. Until the child becomes responsible, he or she must be protected. Similarly, until your dog is reliable and no longer running into the street. chewing up everything in the house or eliminating on floors or carpets, management is needed.
You can follow a step-by-step procedure of positive training for tethering that will not traumatize the dog in a least. Successful tethering eliminates the need for corrections because because the dog can’t get into trouble and it keeps everyone safe:
- Tie the dog’s leash to something so that it is flat on the ground
- Stand in the front of your dog and give him high valued treats so that being restrained is associated with something wonderful
- Progress to asking him to lie down (relaxed position) and the give him treats
- Gradually increase your distance and the duration before giving him treats
It would be abusive to tie a dog to something and allow him to exhaust or hurt himself trying to get free. That is why it is important to acclimatize your dog gradually and never leave him tethered if you are not in the same place.
Stimulating mental and physical growth with play and exercise:
Having fun and playing with your dog are the cornerstones of having the happiest, healthiest relationship with your dog. All training is a game and behaviors are tricks. If it’s not fun for you, it’s not fun for your dog.
Discipline means setting boundaries and enforcing rules. It does not mean enforcing physical punishment. The answer lies in learning the difference between correcting the behavior and correcting the dog. The deal you make with your dog includes no hitting, kicking, shocking, pinning or jerking. However, the dog must earn everything he wants. So rewards such as affection, tug games, fetch, going for a walk, getting on the furniture and so on, are given in abundance. Teach your dog to sit, lie down or stay or walk by your side, and if he does these things, he gets everything he wants. This is all done incrementally, beginning at kindergarten level and progressing to PhD.
Making sure your dog has has quiet time and a place to get away from it all:
Imagine having your senses constantly with the sounds, sights, touches and smells of the world!If you didn’t have the opportunity get away form it all once in a while, it could make you stressed and grumpy. It is important to keep training sessions short and play time structured for duration and intensity.
Dogs are supposed to relieve stress, not increase it. Incorporating a practicing the above4 suggestions will help you achieve a safe and happy lifelong relationship of peace with your number one fan – your dog!