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Obedience and sociability come from Correct Training

I hope you have enjoyed reading the articles written by Susan Dayman about training and socialising Rio in France.

If anyone else has a story about how he or she have trained their dogs or solved any problems that would be of help to other people, please do send them to me. It is sometimes more interesting to read a persons real life experiences with their doggy problems and how they solved them, than reading a professionals view.

An anonymous writer, in the Letters to the Editor, criticises the articles, suggesting that I was possibly promoting such bad behaviour, like chasing the postman or cars, taking dogs inside restaurants or letting them run amok in farmer’s fields. The articles were actually about how Susan is finding new problems with Rio as he grows up and more importantly, how she is solving them. It is important to expose our dogs to lots of activities and see how they respond. If there are any potential problems, then they need resolving.

Bingo on chair, pic 1

Rio´s chasing is now under control. Running across farmer’s fields is because in France, there are no fences nor do the farmers seem upset as they wave and smile, but never object because the French love dogs. As for going into restaurants, for France, this is normal. Here in Spain, I know of two local restaurants that accept well-behaved dogs. The question that immediately comes to mind is how you teach a dog to become quiet in a restaurant or even outside at a bar. How do you stop dogs chasing things or wandering off when there are no boundaries? As far as the postman is concerned, he loved Rio running after him, as he is certainly not aggressive; it was obviously just his play.

People who have dogs are sharing their life with them. Having a dog means there are some restrictions as to what you can do because of custom, laws or simply the dog is unsociable. Purchasing a dog will change the way you live, the question is by how much.

Having children is similarly limiting. How many of us would take our noisy child into a quiet restaurant. How many would let their children chase the postman or run amok anywhere. Therefore, as we teach our children, we must train our dogs. That is the task of responsible parents and dog owners.

Bingo on chair, pic 2

Like children, we must train them and having possibly solved one problem, as they grow older, they find something else to do that we consider wrong that needs correcting. It is fine to criticise those that are still training their dog when our own dogs are obedient and well socialised, but criticism rarely helps. What owners need is an offer of a successful method on how to make their dogs as good as ours. Herein is another dilemma.

Every day I have new dogs with problems. Some owners email them to me, some come for training or some come here for behavioural problems. The difficulty is that all owners and their dogs are different. What will work with one person or their dog may not work for others. I can offer advice how to stop a dog digging holes by suggesting the owner fills them in with dog excrement and then covering it over with soil. This might work for one dog, yet for another, it either still digs the same hole or starts digging somewhere else.

If you look on any help web site, you can place a question of your dog’s problem then read the number of different remedies that people have claimed was successful for their dog. What can you do? You could try every method until one works. The only problem is what if using the wrong methods first, actually stops the correct one working. Therefore, in the end nothing works. This is why when owners eventually come to me; I need to know every method they have tried that has proved unsuccessful. This does make it harder for me than if they had contacted me first.

To stop the problems ever happening, there can be no better way than to take your dog to training classes. Most reward-based training takes dogs in from twelve weeks, once the vet is satisfied with the vaccination results. For enforcement training, where check/choke or pinch/spiked collars are the order of the day, then dogs usually start from six months because they consider them more able to withstand the pain from the use of such collars. The only problem is that between eight to twenty-six weeks the dog receives no training at all, so all the teaching will be corrective.

Bingo on chair, pic 3

I have had some people come to me who prefer enforcement training as the correct way and they have always trained their previous dogs using that method. Learning that I teach reward training, they have left, unwilling to touch me with the proverbial barge pole. I can teach it, but prefer not to. Similarly, I have people who have been to enforcement classes and then come here because they do not like inflicting pain in order to make their dog behave.

Only the other week a child was badly hurt when approaching a dog tied up outside a public house. The owner of the dog was understandably and obviously deeply distressed. I would ask the question, was he aware his dog did not like children or was this truly a bolt from the blue.

Of course, such distressing incidents could happen to any of us. Though the numbers of dog owners are falling, such attacks are becoming more frequent, so what is going wrong.
Unfortunately, dogs do not come to us already obedient as a puppy or acquired as an older dog. We dog owners owe it to everyone else a responsibility to teach them obedience and sociability.

Where ever you are in the world there will be a dog training class of one sort or another. By going to such classes, you will meet other doggy people; you will see how your dog reacts to them and other dogs. Mixing with trainers and handlers, you will learn how to stop any unsociable behaviour before it starts. If you begin early enough, it is possible that your dog will never have any problems, as you learn the correct way to teach and socialise them.

It is imperative we know how good or bad our dogs are and not just cross our fingers, hoping nothing terrible ever happens. We must check that are dogs are not going to cause a problem in the future. This is not to say that going to classes or having your dog temperament tested will cover every conceivable eventuality, but it is better than doing nothing and hoping for the best.

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