Dogs get themselves into all kinds of trouble. Some of these troubles can send you speeding to the nearest veterinary hospital – resulting in lots of stress and sky-high veterinary bills. Accidents can happen to any dog, but you can help protect your pet and reduce his risks of injury or worse with effective training.
Basic training is a very important foundation for every dog. Whether a puppy or an adult, each new pet you acquire should be instructed in basic manners. Basic tricks for a dog include “sit,” “stay,” “lie down.” Once your pet can perform these tasks reliably, they serve as the groundwork for more advanced concepts.
“Sit”, “lie down” and “stay”
“Sit” and “lie down” are very basic but very important. While your dog is sitting or lying down they should still be focused on you – waiting for your next command. You can reinforce these basics with “stay,” which lets your dog know that they should maintain their position until you release it. This will ensure that your pet will listen to you and do as you ask during any sticky situation.
Sit in a doorway
Every dog should be taught to sit before entering or exiting an outside door. He needs to learn that you always go through the door before he does. Not only will this make it easier to put on his collar and leash, this can help prevent your pet from darting through an open door and out in to the path of an oncoming car.
Sit at a curb
If your pet knows to sit at a curb, he will be less likely to dart out into the street without you leading him. If he did, it could be catastrophic.
Teach your pet how to “wait” on the side of the road so cars, animals or people can pass by without interaction. There are many potential situations where this could be helpful. It also lets distractions move along so you and your dog can focus on enjoying your walk.
Don’t jump up
Another important concept to teach your dog is that he is not allowed to jump up on people. Jumping up on someone is a bit rude and can cause scratches, bruises, or even knock the person down. Certain breeds – those with elongated spines – should never be allowed to jump up on people or furniture. These dogs – dachshunds, corgis, bulldogs and similar breeds – are more prone to back injuries and must be protected.
Come when called
Your dog should learn to come when you call his name. This way, if he does happen to scoot out of your front door or dig a hole under your fence, you can simply call his name and wait for him to come running. Save yourself the hours you might spend searching and spare yourself from the sadness of losing a pet.
“Leave it” and “drop it”
“Leave it” will save the day when your dog decides he wants to scoop up that tasty dead thing off the side of the road. When your dog picks up and eats things outside, there are many potential risks: intestinal blockage, poison, even parasites. This essential command will probably come in handy someday. “Drop it” will allow you to remove whatever nasty thing is in your dog’s mouth without having to grab it and pull it out yourself – Yuck!
A dog that has been schooled in proper leash behavior is essential to a safe and enjoyable stroll around the neighborhood. This is especially true of large, strong breeds. If your dog drags you down the street it opens up a lot of potential for injury – for both you and your pet. Suffering a slip and fall injury when your dog suddenly darts after something could really ruin your day, and if Fido gets away from you, there’s no telling what he could get into. He could be hit by a car, get into a scuffle with another animal, or he could be lost for days.
Many dogs can be “reactive” to interesting things while walking on a leash. Some will lunge and bark at other dogs passing by. Others can have issues with moving objects like runners, bicycles, skateboards or cars. And still others will intently try to kill any vermin that happen to cross your path.
All dogs should be trained in loose-leash walking techniques. They should walk nicely at your side on straightaways and should follow smoothly along around turns. Your dog should resist lunging or chasing after other objects or animals. It is very important to start leash training while your pet is young, but even older dogs can learn to behave on walks. Reactivity can be prevented with proper socialization, but dogs that are already reactive can also be rehabilitated.
Prevent or treat separation anxiety
Dogs with separation anxiety express their emotions in a variety of ways. Sometimes they experience so much stress than can cause damage to your house or furniture. These dogs can shred couches, try to chew their way out of their crates, and have even smashed through windows out of fear and anxiety. Not only could this cost you thousands of dollars in repair bills, it could result in astronomical vet bills as well. Dogs can fracture their teeth, give themselves lacerations, swallow inedible objects or even get into poisons this way.
Preventing separation anxiety needs to start at a young age. Your pet should be taught that good things happen when you leave. Making a fuss right before you go out the door can cause your pet to feel more stress. Provide a safe haven like a crate and teach your pet to love it. This will help him feel secure while you are away.
Training saves dogs lives
Many healthy pets are put to sleep because of behavior problems that could have been solved with training. Dogs have been euthanized because they can’t be house-trained, they bark excessively or because they’ve hurt someone with their jumping or nipping. Training can help prevent the euthanization of a healthy animal for what really amounts to bad dog manners.
Proper training is vital to developing a strong, healthy relationship between you and your dog. Not only will proper training keep him safe, it will make your pet-owning experience the best it can be!