If you feel frustrated and disappointed with your dog’s behaviour, remember that someone must teach it what is acceptable behaviour, as well as what is not. A dog that receives no instruction, training or boundaries cannot possibly know what you expect of it. By teaching your dog how to behave, you will not only have a calmer household, but a healthier and happier dog.
A happy and educated dog:
• Allows you to handle every part of his body, to check for injury or illness and to give him/her medication.
• Has good manners so he/she can spend most of his/her time indoors with his/her people. That means more supervision, less boredom and fewer opportunities for mischief. The more time you spend with your dog, the more likely you will be to notice when something is wrong with him/her, like a limp, a cough, a sensitive area or a loss of appetite. By recognising such irregularities early, you can seek medical attention immediately and prevent problems that are more serious.
• Wants to stay near you, listening for instructions (and praise). This means he/she will have less opportunity to stray into danger.
• Will walk or run beside you on a lead without pulling, dragging or strangling, so you and your dog can get more exercise and spend more time together.
• Knows that “drop it” and “leave it alone” are phrases that are serious, so he/she will have fewer opportunities to swallow dangerous objects. He/she also can be taught what things and places are out of bounds, like hot cookers, heaters or anxious cats. However, you will still need to limit his/her access to dangerous places when you cannot supervise or instruct him/her.
• Will “sit” immediately, simply because you say so. No matter what danger may be imminent, a dog that is suddenly still is suddenly safe and a dog that will remain in that position will remain safe.
• Understands his/her boundaries, knows what is expected of him/her and has fewer anxieties. Less stress means a healthier dog.
By training your dog, you can help prevent tragedy and develop a better relationship with it. Remember that even an educated dog needs supervision, instruction and boundaries, such as being on a lead or contained behind a fence or in a dog harness in a car. Allowing your dog, no matter how educated he/she may be to walk, run of a lead near traffic or roam outside of a fenced area or to travel loose in a car, puts other people as well as your dog in danger.