By Sue McCabe
1. People are worth being around.
It is vital, if your dog is to live a happy life, that he enjoys being around people. His learning experience as a puppy must include careful introduction to people of all ages, in all kinds of environments. Firstly, every dog’s best friend should be his owner and through play, training and relationship building, your dog should choose you to around, above any other, including other dogs. Secondly, your dog must also understand that strangers and regular visitors to the house are also worth interacting with in a friendly way. This is especially important with certain breeds that may have a protective or guarding instinct.
2. Alone Time doesn’t bother me.
By allowing your dog to follow you around when you are at home, you increase the chances that he may be anxious, vocal or destructive when you leave the house. Through gradual exposure to alone time and using appropriate chew toys and an indoor kennel or crate, you can teach your dog that he must be calm and relaxed regardless of what’s going on and who is around or absent.
3. The world is not a scary place.
Owning a well balanced dog is a true pleasure as he will be welcome wherever you go. Part of being a well adjusted dog is the ability to relax in new environments, whether they are busy and loud, or quiet and empty. Only through careful socialization and habituation will your dog be able to accept any situation he finds himself in as the norm, and not overreact as a result of being there.
4. If my owner calls me, I should always run back to them.
If you asked any dog what their biggest thrill in life is, they would all shout a resounding ‘running free off leash’ as their reply. Dogs are smart creatures and because most of them were originally bred to do a job, they will become self employed if their owner doesn’t give them something to do off leash. In order to allow your dog freedom of running free, you must teach them that you are his primary source of fun and entertainment. He should always choose to return to you when you call, in case he misses out on a fun game, a tasty treat or the sounds of your voice telling him he’s a great boy and you love him.
5. ‘Stop’ could save my life.
Teaching your dog to stop ahead, or freeze where they are and not move until you tell them, is a crucial command for controlling them out and about, but also could save their life one day. When you ask your dog to do something (sit, lie down, fetch a toy, drop during tug etc.) always make sure you are clear that you have finished interacting with them. Do not simply allow your dog to get up from his sit or wander away during a game. In addition, teaching your dog to stop and go on command is a great way to control them when they are ahead of you on walks, and may save their life one day.