Your family (maybe just you) has hopefully planned this day for awhile. Important decisions were made on where to get your new adult dog from. Breed generalities may have been studied. Family members have been consulted on what kind of dog they wish to have. Puppies have been decided against for many valid reasons. The day has arrived to pick up your new canine companion and future best friend. I want you to be aware of some common mistakes that may make your lives harder than they need to be.
As I write this, the new training dogs coming in have been frequent now, and our business is heating back up for the summer. This is a really stressful time for Shana at home as always. Being a dog trainer's dog is not fun for all dogs. At the same time, we have been working regularly on Shana's impulse control and reactivity around other dogs. She has been doing really well, but today she has clearly had enough of this. We are currently in the Middle of Week 6 on a Thursday. I haven't taken many videos, so I am going to go over what we have been doing to date.
This is going to begin a series as best as I can. I don't know how many parts are going to be to it, but I am going to continue a Shana journal from now on. I have attempted this before, and it has not been consistent. This, however, is an topic most dog owners and dog trainers have not had the opportunity to cover. Although, I can later share some blogs that do go over interesting things in a dog/owner or dog/trainer relationship over time.
CLICK ON THIS FOR PAST SHANA POSTS
NOTE1: WE KEEP TRACK OF INCIDENTS HERE OF ALL SORTS. WE HAVE ONCE EVER HAD DOG SERIOUSLY HAVE AN INTENT TO KILL, AS I CONSIDER THIS. APPROPRIATE STEPS WERE PUT IN PLACE IMMEDIATELY AFTER THAT PREVIOUS INTERACTION.
Now the band-Aid is ripping off. Trigger warnings may abound if you have ever been in a dire emergency situation.
NOTE2: THIS IS NOT HOW TO GO ABOUT A DIRE EMERGENCY DOG FIGHT SITUATION. DO NOT USE THIS AS A HOW TO. THIS IS NOT A HOW TOO, BUT A MOMENT IN TIME OF DESPERATION.
Wednesday September 8th 2021: The day started out (7:30 am) normal though there have been some things going on here as in everyday life. Nothing too abnormal though...
In general, training a dog involves teaching a command that can be understood by your dog using a verbal cue or signal. Unless you also know how to teach your dog to be focused, calm, and confident in certain situations, you may be constantly struggling, because you have missed another important piece of the puzzle.
That piece is behavior modification, which does not just apply to dogs with behavioral problems. This can also be for active dogs to learn how to chill in environments that might be exciting in order to do their work or focus on training with you.
Most dog owners, especially first time dog owners, do not have a real understanding of what dog training is. How could they? This is not something taught to us in most schools, and dogs are a totally different species than we are. The building blocks of dog training are very important, and it is the understanding of these and why they are used that confuse most dog owners.
The first thing you should know is dog training is a process. There are many steps, and if you don't step off on the right foot in the first place, you will make your self a lot of unnecessary work later or just give up in frustration at a point where you could have excelled. This blog seeks to give you some insights to understand the bones of the process in hopes that when you start training you will continue on to a very enjoyable life for you and your dog with a fabulous working relationship.
A decision has been made! You have decided to take in a new adult dog into your family. Before this action was taken:
Puppies (and some adult or adolescent dogs) are in need of much learning and guidance. One of the most important things to do is to socialize your puppy well in the critical early weeks and months.
The first thing that you want to check is that your vaccinations are up to date, and that it is safe to take puppy out to areas with other dogs and puppies. Take a moment to have a discussion with your vet about the best plan.
For the purposes of this article, I am talking about fear (not fear [with] aggression, which has both positive and negative definitions in dog training, behaviors OR aggression behaviors). Nor the fear that a resource is going to be taken away, and not dominant behaviors (which in my definition are not necessarily undesirable). A dog's personality or temperament, IMO, can not be described as simply "fearful", "dominant", "abused", or "aggressive". Dogs have rich lives (or should have) just as we do, and are not put into one simple box definition. They may have behaviors that fit that definition (and will have other behaviors and characteristics beyond those), but dogs (themselves) can not be IMO defined this way.
Dog parks can be a dog owning city dweller's solution to a space challenged environment so they can provide for their canines exercise needs. Urban budgets usually do not allow for dog park supervisory staff. There is no one in most parks checking on the doggie guests coming in, whether people are cleaning up after themselves, or available to safely and knowledgeably break up an inevitable fight. Vaccination or pest control medical records are not checked before people come in.
The population of individual dogs and personalities changes all the time in these parks. Not all dogs are going to get along with any strange dog that walks up to them, even if they get along with most dogs. Some dogs are reactionary around toys and strange dogs, some dogs just don't like certain other dog personalities, and some dogs are jealous of attention taken away from their owner or live in canine companion. Combine with this the changing pack order that happens, and dog wanting to naturally maintain or protect their status. The changing of the pack alone can cause problems of aggression and fights. This might not be a problem with your dog, but remember you are surrounded by other strange dogs that this might be a problem with. No one wants their dog to get in the mix to simply defend themselves.
Most dogs that go to dog parks are not trained. Here I am using my definition of trained, not the mere assuming the position of sit for a second and then releasing. Training (and a prosocial temperament) is what makes a dog more likely to be controllable when unpredictable situations occur. Training allows most of us to keep our dogs safe, and it's why most trained dogs don't need the confines of a dog park to get their exercise. Untrained dogs have no one to follow but themselves when a problem arises. The communication between the owner and dog for direction is non existent. This will only add to the problem above if a dog to dog or person to dog problem breaks out.
Finally, as intimated above, disease and pests come into the dog park. Even waste that is picked up can leave behind germs, which can be a problem if you don't know what the many dogs that come through there might have. Because of the lack of supervision, sometimes these parks are nasty and dirty. Fleas are a pest that is common to be picked up at a dog park. An owner will never know if a dog has been fully vaccinated or potentially exposed to something like rabies (if there is a supervised dog park, this issue might be solved).
The best solution is to train your dog so that you don't need a "dog park" to visit. Also, have friends whose dogs you know get together with you and your dog. Be sure that your dog is in control through training, when you walk them around strange dogs. This is the kind of socializing dogs need, not instances that increase danger to your dog. I would love to hear about supervised dog parks, please e-mail me or comment if you know of any.
Need help training your dog so you can both have more fun and adventure? Call, e-mail, or fill out the client interview form. We can get you and your canine partner moving in the right direction.
Author, Robin Rubin
Owner and Head Dog Trainer in Maine, Robin Katherine Rubin, started her Maine dog training business in September 2004. Our dog training facility is located in Southern Maine in York Beach and we help families enjoy their dogs more, making sure they listen reliably and resolving unwanted behaviors.