Be your dog’s best friend | Sunday Observer

Be your dog’s best friend

My long association with dogs has revealed to me one important truth. Dogs are great accommodating creatures. They endure hours of boredom hoping that a short walk or a game of fetch will come their way.

They enjoy baths and brushing that in the past no self-respecting dog would have tolerated. They eat what is given to them instead of swooping up what is available on the kitchen table. And, they don’t chase cats.

In return, each dog expects a warm home, safety and food full of vitamins. But, what he wants most is a master (and his family) to love him, pet him and tease him.

Such dogs love their owners, welcoming them home with frantically wagging tails and enthusiastic leaps. But, to the experienced trainer, this outward show is not enough.

Real love in dogs is apparent when the back door is left open and the dog still stays happily within earshot of his owner.

Toilet training

If your dog spends the most time indoors, toilet training is an absolute necessity. It is often a time of trial and stress for everyone involved. But, be patient because there will be a happy outcome.

Start when the dog is young - between 3 to 4 months of age. When you begin the training, start by confining the puppy to a fairly restricted area - a single room, or even a crate. As your puppy begins to learn that ‘business’ is to be conducted outside, you can gradually expand the area that it’s allowed to roam.

Teaching your dog basic obedience is also a necessity. While an obedient dog is a pleasure to be around, the opposite is also true - a disobedient dog can be a real pain! You can take your dog’s training to a much higher level if you choose to, of course. But, at the very minimum, your dog should learn to respond to the following basic commands: sit, drop, stay, heel, come.

There are a number of dog-training methods to teach your dog these commands, but your vet can help you best.

Teaching your dog the basic commands of obedience will make your household a much more pleasant place.

Your dog will be happy because it wants to please you, and because it wants to reap the rewards of good behaviour.

You will be happier because your dog will be more manageable and will enrich your life. And, visitors will be happy not to have to endure a poorly behaved pooch rampaging through the house.

Praise

When praising my dog, I always use the words, “Jackie, what a good dog you are.” Prefix your praises with his name and you will see, the effect is undeniable. For some extraordinary reason, the name electrifies the dogs and gives them much more pleasure than ordinary praise.

A dog’s conscience acts only when he knows by the owner’s attitude that he has done wrong.

Correction must be immediate, because he won’t remember later what he has done. Smacking a dog when he comes back after running off is useless.

To the dog, you are smacking him for coming to you. Shutting a dog up as a punishment is also stupid. You can punish humans by sending them to solitary confinement; you can only lose a dog’s affection by the same treatment.

A dog’s simple mind can’t reason that because he ate the Sunday roast he is being shut up in the garage. He will either fret for your companionship or find some way to amuse himself, like tearing up the floor.

So, what do you do? Look the dog straight in the eyes, scold him with a higher tone and give him a few shakes. This will make the dog feel slightly silly, and he won’t want it repeated. The whole episode should be brief, not more than a minute or two.

Not all dogs are same. Some take time to be trained. Any dog’s conduct could be corrected if only their owners would understand them and give them time.

Be patient with a new pet. Remember, it takes time for a dog to adjust to a new home, new rules, food and people.

Tips

Here are a few tips I have learnt on how to be your dog’s best friend:

(1) Become the pack leader

Dogs feel secure when they have someone in charge. Once you become your dog’s leader, you can teach him anything. There’s a way to be both, friend and leader. We don’t want to break a dog’s spirit; we just want to get its respect.

(2) Hang out on the floor

When you spend time with your dog at home, get down on the floor (rather than elevate your pup to the couch). Your dog’s sense of power increases as you meet him at his eye level. Once you get down to your pet’s level, be sure to shower him with lots of love and affection.

(3) Go for regular walks

Going for a walk gives your dog the opportunity to take in new and different scenery and smells. But, before heading out for some exercise and fresh air, it’s important that you understand the length and frequency of walks that are appropriate for the type of dog you own. A puppy, for instance, isn’t supposed to go on long walks because the concrete can hurt his hips. However, high-energy dogs will be more interested in taking longer walks.

(4) Play fetch

Dogs enjoy playing fetch with anything that they can get in their mouths and retrieve it for you. So, grab a tennis ball, bone, stick or any other appropriate toy and have some fun! Do it often.

Vet visit

Take your dog to the veterinarian regularly. A healthy dog is a happy dog! Good preventive medical care helps them live a longer, happier life.

It is useless to expect every dog to turn out perfect. But, with discipline and common sense, an owner can have a truly wonderful companion in a dog. And, at the same time, you can be your dog’s best friend. 

Comments