Humans have been living with dogs for around 15,000 years now. It was in prehistoric times that wolves began spending time with our ancient relatives. They provided superior hunting and security skills. We provided food, warmth – and pleasant company. It is only recently, however, that we have understood that our dog’s behaviour is linked to their ancient past.
Scientists have come to see that, just like wolves, domestic dogs are hard wired to be pack animals. You can take the wolf out of the wolf pack but you can’t take the wolf pack out of the dog. The reason so many dog owners run into problems with their dogs is that they don’t realise this simple truth.
By grasping this fact they could transform their lives with their dogs.
The fact is that, while they are instinctively pack members, the vast majority of dogs don’t want to be pack leaders. What most dogs do want however is to understand their place in the domestic pack. This is where all obedience training needs to begin. Once a dog understands the pack structure within its home, it will be a happy and contented canine.
Establishing leadership of your domestic pack is something that any owner can achieve. There are many products out there that can show you how to do this. Best-selling books by people such as The Dog Listener and The Dog Whisperer Cesar Milan
are extremely popular and helpful.
When was the last time you told yourself you needed exercise? When was the last time you thought your dog needed exercise? If you can’t see where I’m going with this, let me spell it out for you – go jogging with your dog!
Seriously though, it’s a great way to give yourself and you dog some much needed exercise. It can also promote a stronger bond between the two of you as you cruise down the jogging track. There are some tips however. Consider getting your dog to run on grass if you can. This will prevent their paws from getting bruised on concrete or too hot (the surface can really heat up). Also, make sure there is enough water to go around.
Also, take care that you’re not overstretching old dogs or those who are out of shape. You need to be sensitive to whether they are exhausting themselves. Start of small and light, and it should be good fun for the both of you!
If you’re a dog owner with multiple dogs in the house, you know that they will inevitably fight. This doesn’t have to imply any deep enmity. Animals are after all animals and there will be outbursts of temper. Of course, there may be deep enmity between two dogs and then it’s always dangerous to let them into the same room together.
The situation is much more complex if you have multiple dogs. I once stayed in a house with 10 dogs and when they started to fight, it required many people to break it up. Most of the time, the fight is so fast and furious that you can’t get close enough without being accidentally bitten.
However, if there are just two dogs, then what you can do is to pounce on the stronger one and with a heavy heave, pull them off the weaker one. If you do this early in the fight, there is a chance that the stronger dog wouldn’t have got his teeth into the weaker one. Don’t lift the dog off the ground, as this will tempt the other dog to bite the lifted dog where he or she can’t defend themselves – or you lift them up so high that they can’t be reached.
Sometimes, you can bring out something that your dogs are afraid of like a stick (provided they are afraid of it) and this breaks up the fight. Generally anything that can distract their attention.
I’ve had this issue several times before. Looking your dog in the eye always means that it’s a slightly tense time between the two of you. Staring each other down is a means of determining domination. We all know this at some level. We see children trying this game out on each other regularly (I’m sure we’ve done it ourselves with other humans). We instinctively know that whoever looks away first lost somehow lost in some way.
If your dog looks at you in the eye and doesn’t back down, it can often mean that your dog doesn’t view you as the alpha person in the house. This isn’t okay, since it can mean that your dog might not obey you and might act in violation of your wishes.
Ideally, a dog can look at you for a while and then drop his or her eyes after a while. Remember however, that you’re not doing this to prove to yourself how powerful you are. You’re just trying to reinforce the message to your dog that you retain the dominant post in your household pack.
If your dog stares at you, you must stare back. Chances are they will take the hint and back off or come and lick you.
Remember though to judge the mood. If you have something in your hand and your dog is just sitting happily, wagging her tail and looking at you, it doesn’t mean that it’s a game of dominance!
If you’ve just bought or adopted a puppy, know that one day, the “Biting Phase” will start. They’re gonna grow sharp little teeth that make you yelp when they chomp down. Don’t worry! They never bite hard, and are just testing their teeth.
However, it is very important to know how to react when puppies bite you. Always yelp or cry out if pains and put your puppy down for a few minutes. It’s important that the little fellow realizes that it’s not really acceptable to bite family members hard, and not acceptable to bite non family members at all.
Never whack your puppy if they bite you since I really feel they won’t understand why you’re doing that. If you find that your dog is biting or damaging the furniture, you can get certain non toxic substances from your local pet store that creates a bitter taste that makes furniture unattractive to the puppy.
Puppies will grow out of the biting phase in time. When their teeth are growing, it relieves them to chomp down on something. Till then, try and even enjoy this phase! When your dog is old, you’ll remember the time he used to tug on your jeans with this his wagging.
We learned last week about some basic house training for your puppy, and this week, we’re going to explore a very popular technique called paper training.
It basically involves designating a certain area in your house by marking it with waster paper. That area will be used by your puppy for potty training.
When you notice that your puppy is going to poop (yes you have to keep a close watch, or else it’s a no go) you must pick her up place her on the sheets so that she does her business on the paper.
After you clean up, cover the area again with fresh paper, and keep a slightly soiled piece in the area so that she will associate the smell of that area with her potty routine. Soon she will go there of her own accord when she needs to poop. As your puppy learns each time that she is to go to the designated area, keep reducing the area of the paper so that it reaches a consistent size.
Reinforce the fact that potty is only to be done in the marked area by immediately cleaning up accidental drops in the wrong place with diluted vinegar. This will remove the smell and will prevent the dog from associating that area with her potty again.
With a little bit of praise and encouragement, your dog is set!
Even though the dog has been domesticated, they are still animals with instincts that are brought down from their ancestors in the wild. Sometimes, their instincts override all the training that a human can possibly give. An example that I remember was when a pregnant dog lashed out at me for getting too close. She was well brought up, so she didn’t bite – her mouth was closed all the time – but it was a reminder to me that dogs are not humans.
It’s important that your dog learns to respect you and give you precedence. Not doing so can encourage bullying behavior like growling, or pushiness while coming to food. Such a dog can be a ticking time bomb and for it’s own sake, he/she must be taught that humans, and especially you, are superior to them.
You must always keep the idea in the back of your mind, that you are superior. This should manifest itself when your dog is on the leash, when you share food with your dog, and in all other circumstances where your dog’s interests might clash even slightly with your own. Your dog must realize that it’s interests are secondary to yours. In other words, you must be the alpha member of the pack.
This is neither cruel, nor disrespectful. It is a necessary part of a dog’s upbringing for their own sake. Society will not tolerate a dog that goes beyond it’s limits, and it is your responsibility to ensure that those limits are never crossed.
Training your dog requires patience and time. It is a very important step in keeping a dog, and not only makes your life together more enjoyable, it also establishes the hierarchy in the family.
It is important to remember that dogs read our faces and feelings much more accurately than an adult human. This means that if you’re getting frustrated or pissed off during training, your dog will sense it. When this happens, he or she will come to associate training time with unpleasant emotions and a stressful atmosphere, and this will make them difficult to train.
For this reasons, training your dog by providing an incentive to do well is much more effective than punishing them. If you find yourself trying too hard and getting frustrated, don’t try and hide it and continue. You can’t hide from a dog. Take a break and relax for a while. Then try again when you’re fresh.
Techniques for House training your puppy can vary depending on your lifestyle. Some people have their own garden where they let their dogs poop, which becomes manure after a while, so you don’t need to be present to pick it up after them.
In this case, the only requirement is that you train you dog to poop outside. The key to doing this is to have a regular schedule. If your puppy knows that he/she is going to be let out of the house at a particular time, chances are that they will time their potty. If you have several dogs already, then the puppies pick up the pattern from them.
Initially when your pups are young, try and have a separate place for them to poop. The place should be far away from the sleeping area and when you observe them getting ready to let go (Sniffing around, moving in circles), pick them up and place them there. Ideal is a piece of news paper also referred to as paper training.
I understand that this requires constant care and supervision, but hey, that’s what a puppy’s all about!
So many people feel that a dog belongs on a leash. They either don’t have the time, or patience to keep up with a young dog that’s running around all over the place, so they make the dog stay in the backyard on a leash.
That is just not right. A dog wasn’t made for people to tie up permanently. They were meant to run wild, be free, and explore.
Keep in mind that tying up your dog for extended periods of time, or as a habit is a sure way to ruin the dog’s temper. They’re not healthy, both mentally and physically. They are likely to get aggressive and bolt at the first opportunity – Wouldn’t you?
Having a dog is a responsibility. If you’ve bought a dog by mistake and realize too late that you don’t have the ability to care for him or her, then at least try and find a good home that will take care of them properly. It’s no shame to you. Everyone makes mistakes. But you must take responsibility to correct those mistakes.