The Most Common Mistakes Dog Owners Make
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Everyone in your family has rules that they have to live by – if you have a husband, you likely have expectations for each other within your relationship; if you have kids, you wouldn’t let your children eat candy for breakfast – so why shouldn’t your dog have rules that he or she needs to follow, too?
Dog trainers I’ve interviewed tell me that the biggest problem that they see in their profession is that dogs are confused about what their role is in the family unit. Martin Deeley describes this as a “lack of clarity” for the dog. When dogs live in the wild, they live in packs – the problem is, especially if you have a fluffy little toy breed (like Tango) – it’s easy to forget that she is a relative of a species that are pack animals. This means that there is always a natural leader in a dog’s world, and dogs are most comfortable when they have a leader to follow.
When you think about it, families are no different. If children don’t have an adult that they can trust to give them a safe and predictable living environment, they can get into trouble because they don’t have someone to give them guidance when they need it. It was the same when I was teaching elementary school. Can you imagine the chaos that would have ensued if I didn’t establish some rules with the students to ensure that everyone would be safe? Rules do not make you a bad person or a bad pet owner. Having rules – fair, consistent rules, are necessary for everyone’s safety and well-being who lives in your house, including your dog.
Again, dogs are not humans, but their unique needs become clear when we compare them to us. Just like children, dogs feel safest when they have a leader to follow. So in addition to love, dogs need someone to be their leader, their protector. Not having a leader can cause a lot of unnecessary anxiety and stress for your dog, because he thinks that he has to protect the entire family. And just think of how exhausting that would be for a dog! It may seem counter-intuitive, but being the leader is the kindest thing you can do for your dog.
Now I know that changing the way you think about working with your dog will likely not happen overnight. Martin Deeley notes that humans likely have far more years of living experience during which they have formed habits which can be difficult to change. However, it is certainly possible with a little bit of focus and a positive attitude. Martin emphasizes that old dogs can easily learn new tricks and new dog games – so we certainly can, too!
Martin Deeley is the President of the International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP), and is a world renowned dog trainer, writer, and commentator. Martin has written three top selling books Advanced Gundog Training, Working Gundogs, and Getting it Right with Gundogs. For more information, please visit his website at: http://www.internationaldogschool.com/ or www.floridadogtrainer.com/
So how do I know if I’m driving?
Camilla Gray-Nelson explained that the easiest way to find out if you are perceived to be the leader by your dog is by asking your dog to do something that you have already taught him or her to do at a time when he would rather not. For example, ask your dog to sit when you know he would rather lie down. If your dog does not follow through on your request, you are not the leader.
Frank Saputo suggests that dog owners limit their dog’s freedom until the dog has learned how to be successful living in your household. Limit the rooms that your dog is allowed to be in until you have observed over time that your dog doesn’t chew or eliminate when he is in that area. If your dog is still chewing or eliminating in the area of the house when you do leave him/her unsupervised, then you need to spend more time supervising your dog and clearly communicating what is and what is not allowed in your home until he no longer eliminates or chews. Frank emphasizes that teaching your dog what is acceptable and what is not acceptable clearly is essential.
Camilla Gray-Nelson is a dog successful dog trainer and owner of Dairydell Canine, the fastest growing dog training center in Northern California. For more information about Camilla, please visit her website at: http://www.dairydell.com/media/About_Camilla.html
Frank Saputo is a master dog trainer who is dedicated to educating his clients about the basic nature and instincts of their dogs. He is the founder of Spot On K9 in San Diego, Ca. For more information about Frank, please visit his website at: http://spotonk9.com/
Dog lovers around the world would be hard-pressed to find a more genuinely caring and compassionate dog trainer, animal behaviourist, or veterinarian than Dr. Ian Dunbar. I had the pleasure to interview Dr. Dunbar just recently, and during the course of the interview, he shared that the most common problems of dog owners fall into the following three categories: behaviour issues, temperament problems, and training problems. In this article, I share how Dr. Dunbar explained these three problems that many dog owners face, and what pet owners can do to help prevent these problems.
Dr. Dunbar emphasizes that the most disturbing problems he has observed among pet owners are behaviour and temperament problems. Ironically, it’s the behaviour problems that are most serious for dogs, including house soiling, destructive chewing, and excessive barking. He notes that many of these problems develop early on in a puppy’s life because many breeders are not house training or chew-toy training them, with the result being that the owner then gets a puppy who is eliminating all over their home and who is chewing everything in sight. Dr. Dunbar notes that then the common course of action is to put the dog outside where he can’t be as destructive, then on the garage, and eventually to the shelter because the owners just don’t know how to change their dog’s behaviour. Early preventative measures, including positive house training and chew-toy training for puppies, can help pet owners to avoid these problems all together.
Dr. Dunbar stresses that temperament problems, such as biting, fighting, and fearfulness, are predictable and preventable through early socialization. Simply early handling by the breeder and then by the owners in the home can help dogs to not only tolerate interactions with people, but to really enjoy them from an early age. I notice a huge difference between Tango and Sparky as a result of their differing experiences in this way in their early puppy lives. Tango enjoyed a great deal of positive early handling and socialization opportunities by the time she came home with us, whereas to this day, Sparky is still slower to warm up to other people as a result of the lack of early socialization and opportunities he had to be cuddled and held. Dr. Dunbar notes that fighting can be more of a challenge to handle, but can certainly be helped with the assistance of a professional dog trainer.
Training problems, such as general hyper-activity problems, jumping up, pulling on their leash, and general compliance problems such as not coming when called are very simple problems to resolve with time and patience. Dr. Dunbar notes that the biggest problem lies in the fact that many pet owners have come to believe that training their dog is a drag and is not enjoyable – which is simply not true!
You will receive a free audio of this interview with Dr. Dunbar when you purchase your copy of My Doggy Genius: Over 50 Awesome At-Home Dog Games & Challenges. Check it out today!
Dr. Ian Dunbar is an internationally recognized veterinarian, animal behaviorist, and dog trainer, and is the founder of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. Dr. Dunbar has authored numerous books and DVDs about puppy/dog behavior and training, including Dog Behavior, How To Teach A New Dog Old Tricks and the SIRIUS® Puppy Training video. For more information, you can visit his website at: http://www.dogstardaily.com/