“Now why on earth would I need a dog trainer? He’s such a GOOD boy!” This, after I had just been bowled over and slobbered on by my neighbour’s huge dog when I went over to her house to drop off some mis-delivered post meant for her. To add insult to injury, I couldn’t even stand up without this monster of a dog thinking it was a new game of “Knock That Person Down” every time I tried. It certainly did not help that my neighbour thought it was hilarious and saw nothing wrong with me vainly trying to hug the nearest tree to try and stay upright.
Yes, size DOES matter!
It’s not that my neighbour and I didn’t get along, in fact, we quite liked each other, so her amusement was not malicious but rather misdirected. For the first time, I understood what a mouse must feel like when a “butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-my-mouth” cat decides that playtime involves unilaterally co-opting the hapless mouse into playing the part of the new squeaky-toy. Sadly, this was not the first time that a rather large dog and I had come nose-to-nose on THEIR level. An ex-boyfriend’s parents owned a large dog of indeterminate breed who was always THRILLED when we visited his parents, so much so that I became his sole object of attention and, therefore, he felt that it was necessary to jump up on me, shower me with his doggy breath drool and then do his very best to demonstrate his undying love by trying to hitch a ride on my shoulders. I doesn’t help that I am NOT a dog-person, and am intimidated by large animals which insist on trying to see if they can climb into my mouth and up my nose whilst making a meal of my mascara and hair.
Who actually needs the training – the dog or the owner?
Perhaps friendly relationships would have lasted longer between everyone had these short-sighted dog owners realised that not everyone enjoys canine attention and being run-over by their over-exuberant pooches. Neither do we enjoy small ankle-biters who make up for their lack of size by the amount of noise they make when excited or think they hear a fly land somewhere. Constant high-pitched yapping could drive anyone into the Great Unknown in a desperate attempt to escape to somewhere quiet. I remember an acquaintance who acquired a pit bull terrier, and when friends came to visit, he would pick up an item of their clothing, hold it to the dog’s nose and say, “Kill!” He thought it was a huge joke, but couldn’t understand why no-one ever wanted to visit him again and being potentially utilized as a convenient chew toy for his dog. But why is it that these dog owners don’t realise what they or their pets are actually doing? To those of us standing on the “dogs are NOT my favourite animals” side of the fence, it is clear that some form of behaviour modification is required – for both the dogs and their owners.
Good training entails behaviour modification
I am not advocating the use of a stick, rolled newspaper, tranquillizers, raised voices, distracting them by giving them treats (which actually encourages the behaviour), by locking the animal away by itself until it has calmed down or the visitor has left the premises. I am strongly against animal cruelty of any kind but I do wish some dog owners would step back and see exactly what effect their pets have on other people. It is kinder on everybody to gently and persuasively train a dog – preferably from puppyhood – how to behave politely in company. A well-behaved dog who is happy and loves his life is a wonderful addition to any family. Dogs are rather like children in that they need boundaries to be set where good behaviour is positively encouraged and misbehaviour is gently but firmly discouraged. Sadly, not all of us are born with the skills of being good pet parents, and sometimes we need help in ensuring that we do the best for our furry children.
Is all training the same for all dogs?
This is where dog trainers come into the picture. They are the patient and understanding specialists who know how to bring out the best in any dog, for whatever reason. Some dogs simply need to have their exuberance toned down, some need more definite rules to adhere to – and here one thinks of the routine commands : “Heel!”, “Stay!”, “Sit!”, “Fetch!”, “Down!”, to mention just a few. For those people who own dogs primarily for protection, there are specific methods used to train these more ferocious breeds to act at the right time and for the right reasons. There are many breeds of dogs, and all of them have different personalities and attributes. It would be laughable, for instance, to get a pug or chihuahua for protection purposes, although they certainly can alert you to the presence of anything near their territory. Similarly, it probably would not be the best idea to bring a rottweiler or doberman into a household with young children who can innocently annoy or aggravate them. Bites can be more than nasty – they can be life-changing. Even with the best training in the world, any animal can be provoked into retaliating when feeling threatened, irritated or simply frightened. This is a natural reaction, and no animal can be punished or blamed for snapping and biting under such circumstances. The trick is to hire a trainer suited to the type of dog you have, one who knows the breed’s traits and general personality and in which environment they will flourish, and can tailor the training specifically for your dog. This simple action will ensure that you have a well-trained dog who is an essential and loved member of your family, and with whom your friends can feel secure and comfortable.
Share the love by doing the right thing …
It is not selfish to ask dog owners to ensure that their dogs are properly trained and demonstrate good behaviour. It is a positive step forward for everyone. If you have a dog, you surely want to spend quality time with the animal in a loving and caring environment, rather than having to reprimand it or shut it away because it is uncontrollable at times. Do the right thing. If you feel that you are not up to the task of properly training your dog, then by all means ask for help from a qualified trainer who will educate both you and your pet in the niceties of acceptable behaviour.
If you want to find out more about dog training, please see our articles on Uptasker for dog trainers in your specific geographical area.