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Dog training for sociability

My aim is to promote the teaching for sociable dogs and stem the incidence of dog aggression within our society. We currently use two established methods of training. One uses enforcement and the other using the rules that all dogs understand. It is also possible to use a bit of both depending on how much success you are achieving. Using the enforcement method is best taught at training classes because this is a handling method and as dogs will fight against this you do need someone proficient in the dogs body language to give you some assistance in method and interpretation. The more times you fail to complete the exercise the harder each subsequent attempt becomes. Our other method is simply translating verbal commands to actions the dog is completing for itself in its daily life. A problem will exist if you train on your own as this lacks the sociability classes that are the most important part of any training programme.

I hear people say you cannot train dogs like you train your children but you do. Look at a simple scenario. You call your child and dog for their meals. You repeat the call and again no response from either. On the fifth call both child a dog turn up and you wish this to stop. Which do you think would learn the quicker were you to treat both to the same punishment? People would say you can talk to a child and you cannot talk to a dog. Ok to make it fair do not talk to either. What do you do? Simple, in front of them both tip both meals into the bin. I would bet money that the dog would come first when you call on the next occasion.

I hope now having read my articles this far has made you think a little differently about your dog. You may think that a problem you once had you could have resolved had you thought a different way some time ago. It is not necessary for me to tell you exactly how to complete each exercise because you are capable of thought and by looking at a problem from a slightly different angle you may actually come up with a quicker way to teach an exercise than the so called experts. Each person and dog is different and what is important is that you learn to understand your own dog. Very many years ago, I sat and listened to a talk on dog behaviour by my friend John Rogerson and I became aware of a completely new way of thinking on how to read my dog. If you could obtain any of his books, they are well worth a read. The one he wrote for children is certainly well worth obtaining.

Do you want your dog as a simple companion or do you enjoy training your dog or even entering competitions. I will give one warning that if you decide to expand your dogs abilities in all fairness to your dog do not give up the learning process as a trained dog that becomes bored is heartbreaking to see. We had a highly trained dog owned by a publican who had to give up training and the dog had to stay in the upstairs party room. It literally took the room apart in search of attention. I have seen working collies running around in circles all day and taking to chasing vehicles because they no longer had a fulfilling work role to play.

I have described the teaching of the basic commands, as taught by both methods. These are the sit, stand, down, stay and the most important one the come or recall command. As I say you can teach these by yourself but using the enforcement method is usually quicker if you attend a class where an instructor can teach you to teach your dog. Having your dog professionally trained does work to very small degree but as you will not be as proficient as the instructor after a few weeks back home your dog will revert back to its old ways.

The one thing you cannot teach on your own is the most important one of all, that is sociability, and for that you need other people and other dogs. You could set up puppy clubs with weekly meetings where you can start right at the very beginning so all the pups are use to people and pups coming and going so they become accustomed to the idea of an infinite pack. I mentioned in an earlier article that you could have weekly walks or barbecues for dogs and owners or even simple training classes. For real fun, you could have agility classes and run some agility competitions. Speaking from experience dogs love these as they have the opportunity to work for themselves and it is great fun for everybody to watch. You could even take up searching, tracking, criminal work and the list is endless. As it says on a web site, where do you want to go to today?

I will say at this point do you have any questions, queries, disagreements or subjects you would like me to cover then please contact me. I will cover steadiness to gun, as with so many fiestas here teaching your dog not to be frightened of bangs would prove useful. All my dogs loved watching the fireworks displays at a safe distance of course. I will also cover the teaching of food refusal, as I understand there is a high incidence of poisoned dogs here too. Another articles will be on the types of games to play with your dog and the rules you need to follow.

Which ever breed you have chosen all dogs are born with inbuilt behaviour created from their past relatives and only future breeding can change this. This does not mean that all American Pit Bulls are all natural fighters and therefore dangerous. I have seen many that are nothing like their publicity. When choosing a dog what it will look like when fully grown with its natural traits must play a major part in your decision. If you see a puppy German Shepherd with big ears and massive paws you are likely to have a big dog when it grows up. Choosing a pedigree pup will and should indicate to you what your dog will look like and its likely character but inbreeding can create problems that mongrel or crossbreeds seem immune to. I believe how to choose a dog is best left to an article all of its own as there are so many things to look for. I would always advise anyone to never purchase a dog in haste as you could regret this in the future.

We all learn by our mistakes and from our attempts at problem solving so I will cover a few problems that I have received lately. An owner queried that her German Shepherd had developed grisly sacks on the front of each elbow. I had a dog that had similar sacks but attributed this to his preference to lying on cold concrete. Nothing could clear them but I eventually tried him on a wooden pallet for him to lie on and as air circulated, below him he found it cool and stopped lying on the concrete. You could try an aerobic mat, as these are cool and more comfortable with the possibility of reducing arthritis problems in later life.

Does castrating a dog turn it into a docile dog? (I would be a bit peeved) No, there is nothing in official statistics that prove that a castrated dog is any less likely to become savage. Most dog rescue organisations as a matter of policy castrate dogs leaving their care in the belief that it reduces the risk of the possibility of selling a dangerous dog.

A one-year-old German Shepard Dog howls and screams when it meets another person and appears more aggressive on the lead than off. The high pitch of the bark indicates that the dog is in the wrong situation as a leader and for which it is not competent to perform. To reduce the howls and screams try to meet up with a friend and talk without showing any interest in your dog. Stand sideways on to your dog and totally ignore it. If it is very noisy, take some cotton wool for your ears. Wait for your dog to stop howling for a few moments and then give praise and a titbit. If it starts howling again just ignore the dog. You are encouraging your dog to do nothing when you meet people, as you should control the meeting not the dog. It is also useful to teach speak on command exercise as this includes a cease command. If your dog will hold things in its mouth you could give, your dog the lead to hold and that should keep it quiet.

More aggressive on the lead is simply the support you as a handler give to your dog in any confrontation by retaining a tight lead. To stop this if you are using a noose lead of some type is to jerk the dog back to your side saying no or finish then immediately reduces the tightness of the lead. At first the dog will jump forward again, you must repeat the jerk and finish command. You can give a titbit as a reward to take the dogs mind off its previous behaviour. Keep doing this until your dog stops jumping forward and then give plenty of praise. If you consider a confrontation is likely to happen then make your dog sit stand or down without a tight lead and give it praise and a titbit.

Many years ago doctors would prescribe aspirin for just about anything and so it is with many dogs that their problems are traceable back to a lack of leadership. Within any team, someone must be the leader to do the problem solving and looking after everyone. Good leadership does not mean domination. If you have good leadership, your dog will give you great respect. I had to stay at my parent’s house for a short while and they wanted me to allow my dog into the house at night. My mum, bless her heart, kept encouraging my dog to sleep in her room, which he was willing to do but he would never come into my room. I could have felt offended even though I knew a dog should never sleep in the bedrooms. I realised that my dog respected me as his leader and why he would not enter my bedroom. This it is just the way dogs think. Though dogs sleeping in your bedrooms is very much frowned upon, I will not ask for a show of hands for all the dogs that do. The reason is thus that subordinate wolves do not sleep with the two dominant leaders or as sometimes called the Alpha male and female. This is why some dogs have attacked husbands (or the wife said kill). Also sleeping here places, the children in a subordinate position to your dog and why some dogs have attacked children. Please do consider these points if you are considering making this choice. I must say that some dogs do not care where they sleep, as the position within the hierarchy means nothing to them providing you feed them regularly.

Next week I will show how to teach steadiness to gun and food refusal.


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