Owning a dog comes with some responsibilities. At a minimum, dog ownership requires sheltering, caring, and feeding. Dog owners cannot leave town on a whim, and, depending on whether you live in a house or apartment, your life can revolve around your dog’s needs to go out. If you are a new dog owner, your life changes because of these responsibilities, and you soon learn that your obligations extend beyond those you owe your pet. It’s also important to train your dog, so be sure to focus on puppy manners.
A responsible dog owner is considerate
Your dog ownership is not isolated to your home. As a good dog owner, you will take your pup on walks and to the park. Walking is where you test your canine obligation to the world. Being in control of your dog and training him well is key to being a responsible owner. No one likes a poorly behaved dog, and no one blames that dog for being untrained. And beyond opinions on how well-tempered a dog is, an untrained dog can be harmful to other pets and children.
Begin at step one — recognize commitment
Dog ownership is a long-term commitment that you should not take lightly. The expense will go far beyond dog food — you will also have to invest considerable time into giving your dog a happy life. Playtime, walking, and training your dog are all part of this ideal life. Some make the mistake of getting a dog without giving full consideration to this commitment, and it can result in abandonment or neglect. If you are considering getting a dog, make sure you can meet this commitment. If you are already a dog owner, assess your continued level of commitment.
Training for public life
Your dog wants to go out and meet the world. Fido is excited to meet new people, and you want your dog to behave. Walking an untrained dog can be a miserable experience. From jumping to pulling the leash and barking at everyone, it’s no wonder that some give up and declare walking off-limits for a poorly behaved pooch. For just a small investment of time, you can solve this problem in most dogs. Training is simple repetition, copious amounts of treats, and setting schedules. As a creature of habit, your dog craves all of these.
Here are more simple ways to keep a dog from being distracted during a walk:
- Divert your dog’s focus to something else. If every passerby easily distracts your dog, merely diverting Fido’s attention to something else is the polite way to be in control. This is not ideal, however, as it can still make walking a stressful situation.
- Give a reward for looking at you. Using treats, train your dog often to look immediately at you when you call his name. During a walk, you can best control your dog when he breaks his attention on the other person to look right at you.
- Provide a treat for focusing on you. Building on looking at you, train your dog to focus on you. An easy way to do this is to hold a treat in your hand, but only give it to him when he stares into your eyes for, say, 15 seconds or more.
- Give a reward for polite passing. If you give a treat to your dog when he passes another walker without bothering, you can then let him say hello, if appropriate.
And when approaching other dogs, consider these additional tips:
- Don’t avoid walking. Your dog needs his walk. Denying him a stroll around the block because you haven’t trained him yet will never result in him acting appropriately. Put the work in and enjoy the results.
- Don’t pull. Yanking the dog’s leash is counterproductive, can confuse or hurt your dog, and possibly prompt him to pull harder. Instead, use your body to block your dog.
- Don’t yell. This may confuse your dog or make him think that you and he are in danger. Dogs mirror our emotions, so stay calm.
While your dog’s world should not be limited to your home, it should remain the safest and most comfortable place for them.
If you have a yard or garden, consider installing sturdy fencing to offer your pet a great space in the comforts of home. Do a quick search for fence installation near me, compare rates, peruse reviews, and don’t settle for less than the best possible quality. Not only does proper fencing ensure that your dog has room to roam at home, but it also guarantees their (and your neighbors’) safety.
Focus on puppy manners
A well-behaved dog is the result of your commitment to training. It is your responsibility to your dog and others to teach him basic puppy manners by focusing on teaching him obedience and walking in public skill. With a small investment of time and effort, you, your dog, and your neighbors can enjoy years of enjoyable walks.