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Obedience Training (Part 6 of 6)

By Doreen Gray

Your Pet and You

I thought this time instead of writing a "how-to" article, I would write about a few things NOT to do.

If you want a clam, easy-going pet, you must be calm when you interact with him/her. I never, ever play rough, rough up the hair, rub the skin fast or tap (swat) the sides of the face on any dog. These things tend to excite the dog, and a dog that is excited about these types of things is the dog that will:

  1. Nip at people, especially hands and feet,
  2. Jump up,
  3. Run over top of people and other animals,
  4. Growl (and believe that it is okay - it is not!). A growl in play OR any other time is not allowed. It is poor manners and someone else may not know the dog and assume it is mean.
  5. Yap or bark constantly.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. This type of dog is the one who gets shut away when people come to the house (robbing it of necessary socialization skills), stays at home, never rides in the car and has few, if any vet/grooming appointments. I think the reasons for being a soothing owner are becoming obvious.

Try to remember - you love your pet, but everyone else does not. You can eliminate a host of problems by just being a calming source to your pet.

This next section is for the person with children. If you have children you must remember a few things:

  1. When you come home the kids come first - greet the kids first, feed the kids first, etc. The reason for this is simple, the dog is a pack animal and the top dog goes first in everything, so if you put the kids first, you will reinforce the dog's submissive nature toward them. On the other hand, if you put the dog first, you will teach it that it is to be dominant over the kids. Untold things could happen with this scenario.
  2. The kids should never, ever play tug-of-war with the dog. Again, the top dog is the one that ends up with the prize. In fact, no one should play tug unless you are sure you can win every time!
  3. If you are meeting a dog for the first time (especially kids - they are eye level to a dog. I will get to this in a minute), never lower yourself (squat) to greet him/her. This also is a submissive posture.
  4. Please do not put your children at eye level to a dog until you know the animal is safe. Direct eye contact is a challenge to a dog and many children have been bitten for just this.

Please do not make excuses for your dog. Excuses such as:

  1. Too much is going on,
  2. He/she is just too excited,
  3. He/she doesn't feel like doing this now,
  4. He/she is having a bad day.
  5. It's too hot/cold, and on, and on, and on.

If your dog knows a command, he/she should do it every time you ask it of them. All dogs will try you now and then, but if you make them do the command every time, no matter what is going on, they will do it - period! If your dog gives you the dog finger and you do nothing to correct the situation - you are the one to blame!

If you don't want your dog to pull - never, ever let it, no matter what!

I hope you see the logic in this and will take it to heart. If you think it's too hot/cold, don't train. If you suspect your dog is having a bad day, fine, make him complete the task at hand and quit, but make him do it first! If you allow your dog to disobey sometimes, it is the same as obeying sometimes.

I hope this helps you to understand that not all training is what to do, sometimes the things we don't do are just as important.

Until next time, Happy Heeling!

(Doreen has had Mastiffs for eight years, Rottweilers for ten years and has spent the last six years training. She is licensed by the National Dog Trainers Association and has been teaching for three years. Several articles on training have been written for the National Dog Trainers Newsletter. Her focus is on CGC, TDI and behavioral work, primarily with Mastiffs. Two of her Rotts are obedience titled. Doreen is now National Director for MCOA Rescue.)

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