Why train your dog?

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Q: Why Train Your Dog?

A: Like the rest of your family and your dog is most definitely part of your family, you want him or her to be a friendly, well-behaved dog that you can take anywhere without risk or bother to others. A dog, who behaves well in a crowd, has good manners when guests visit your home, is reliable around children, and who does not lunge, bark at, or threaten other dogs or passers-by in the street, on the beach or in the park.

Although we see our dog as part of the family, we need to remember that the dog sees us as members of their pack. It’s just that we walk funny. If they are not taught from an early age that humans are pack leaders, they will want to gain that position for themselves.

Children have to be taught, through a proper relationship with the parent, how to behave and what is expected of them in different circumstances and so their socialisation starts at a very young age. In exactly the same way a young pup needs help from its owner, with whom it has properly bonded, to become a loveable pet and be acceptable by the whole family. It must be remembered that dogs are social animals and without training will behave as such. They will dig, fight, bite and bark all day long unless we can establish the system of dominants and subordinates in their new “pack”, which they can relate to i.e. a hierarchy into which they must find their position. Lower than the humans but in a multiple dog household, somewhere in between as determined by the dogs…

As adults we find out that we were not actually taught how to treat or teach our children, so we generally follow the example of how our parents treated the dog and us. With children it may be easier because they soon develop a language that can be used to teach them and communicate with them and we can use their memories to remind them of past experiences. They in turn can talk to us and ask questions or tell us that they do not feel well or need to go to the bathroom. You cannot treat your dog like a child. Shouting at it will confuse it and hitting it will make it reluctant to come to you.

When a puppy is born it is blind and deaf but it already has a well developed sense of smell and uses it to find its mother and teat for feeding. By day twenty (20) the sight has developed sufficiently to explore its world and by day thirty (30) its hearing has developed. So when we train dogs we follow the sequence; nose, eyes, ears in our training.  When you meet a dog for the first time you do not make eye contact but look and talk to the owner while the dog uses it nose to get to know you. After that you make eye contact and talk to the dog in that order.

Because a baby’s early environment is primarily limited to the home, family relationships play a dominant role in determining what sort of individual he or she will grow up to be. For the pup, much the same applies; his home must also provide him with contact with people who will teach him acceptable patterns of behaviour and be consistent and humane in their discipline.

Unfortunately, Juno, my dog cannot tell me what she is “thinking” so, as her owner I need to learn how to train her and how to watch her reaction to me and others for signs of stress or aggression so that I can train and guide her to become a loveable, accepted member of the family. This I can only do when I have established a proper relationship with my dog with myself as the leader in Juno’s eyes. Then she will be prepared to listen to me and be eager to please me as top dog in her pack.

Right now is the most important time in your dog’s life. Unfortunately their time with us is only too short. The best thing you can do for your dog is to start training him or her now so that you both can experience the fun that it should bring into your lives. But before you “blindly” start “training” your dog, you must first be taught or learn how to train correctly before you spoil your lovely puppy for good by losing your temper, shouting or hitting your dog. That is not how a pack leader behaves.
Puppies can start training as early as ten weeks of age and older dogs at any age.

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