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Keys to Having a Good Dog

Raising a good dog all starts day one. It is important to set up rules and boundaries right from the start.

As a family, figure out what the rules will be for your dog. Is your dog going to be allowed on the furniture? Where will the dog sleep? Do you have a certain area you would like your dog to do its business? These are the type of questions you will ask and discuss together.

Consistency is the key to success. Dogs thrive on structure, so create that structure and stick to it. Everyone who lives with the dog must stick to the rules, and be involved in the care of the dog even if it is a walk at least once a week. Daily structured walks help drain your dog’s energy in a productive way.

It is important to teach your dog to walk in a structured heel position. This teaches a dog self-control. People tend to feel bad if they do not let their dogs ‘be dogs.’ A dog can smell all the scents it passes by without putting its nose to the actual scent, so do not worry about your dog missing out on all those marvelous scents of the world. However, allowing the constant nose to the ground causes the dog to stay in a very excited state-of-mind which, in turn, distracts the dog from its connection with you.

The best compromise is the sandwich technique. Always start your walk structured and find a half way point or a special place the dog likes. Release the dog from its heel position and allow the dog to smell, go potty, roll around – whatever the dog enjoys doing as long as it does not pull on the leash. Then, g back to structure on the way home.

Create a boundary at your front door and teach the dog to stay behind it when the door is open. If this is practiced daily, your dog will never run out the door when people are coming and going. Teach your dog that calm behavior gets them attention, not excited behavior. Stay consistent and your dog will approach you and your guest appropriately.

Socialization is the also important, so put your puppy or dog in a well-structured ‘play’ class. Puppies need to play with other dogs to learn proper social behavior very much like we do for our children in pre-school. Socialization is not just for the puppy stage – it’s for life. A social pup can turn anti-social if it does not get out of the house or yard and play with others. Dogs are social creatures that were bred to perform certain behaviors, which means some dogs need more socialization then others. It is never too late to socialize a dog.

If you rescued an adult dog but it has anti-social or shy behavior, contact a reputable trainer that has a lot of experience with this particular problem before attempting to socialize your dog yourself. Walk your dog in different areas – exposing them to different sights, sounds and smells as well as different types of people. The more things you expose your dog to, the more balanced it will be.

Following these tips will help your dog be social, well-behaved and balanced – which means you and your dog will have a fuller life together.

Valerie Masi

Best Paw Forward