EPISODE 3: PET-UMANS
5 Things every dog owner needs to know
By Leigh Siegfried, CPDT-KA
Training is great, but other things are important for your pup.
Teaching your dog what is expected of them is so necessary to the relationship and to help your dog understand how to behave. However "management" is also hugely part of the big picture. Management refers to preventing your dog from rehearsing undesirable behaviors. Practice makes perfect, so start with not allowing your dog to get better at problem behaviors. Have a dog that likes to jump on people? A simple management fix is to step on the leash to prevent jumping and to begin to reward standing, sitting or your dog having better emotional control. Management is a starting point for teaching manners and will greatly enhance the likelihood that your training is more effective.
Dogs need opportunities to be dogs.
Every animal has species-specific behaviors that are a normal part of their repertoire. For dogs things like sniffing, digging, marking, chewing and barking are just a few examples of normal dog behavior. And domestic dogs live in a human-centric world. The most well adjusted pets I see have owners that understand that dogs need opportunities to allow their dogs to embrace their dogginess- they take them hiking, on sniffing walks, give them long lasting chewies like frozen, food stuffed Kong toys and allow them to chew on sticks or roll around in dirt now and again. These things are necessary to you the mental and emotional health for your dog, so seek out enrichment opportunities to let your dog be a dog.
Behavior changes over time.
If you have a new pup, as your dog leaves puppy hood and hits adolescence (6-10/16 months) things can change. Getting off to a good start is great, but the turkey isn't cooked- keep at it. I'd recommend at least 3 training classes or ongoing training by the time your dog is 1.5 years old. If you have a newly adopted dog, you won't even know who you have for a good 4 weeks, so provide lots of structure early on to get things off to a good start.
Every dog needs a good chewie.
Interactive and food dispensing toys are very popular these days. The one toy we encourage all dogs to have is a Kong toy. The Kong looks like a red, rubber beehive shaped toy that is hollow. You can stuff this with a bit of food, biscuits, wet dog food and freeze it. Freezing the toy makes the food inside much harder to get out and keeps your pup entertained for a lot longer. For dogs that are new to the Kong make it pretty easy to get food out to start, then up the ante and make it more difficult. For Kong stuffing recipes- click here
Buyer be educated.
There is a lot of conflicting advice out there for dog owners. But there are great, knowledgeable pros that can help. I highly recommend starting with a trainer certified by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers, and has earned the distinction CCPDT-KA . CPDT is the only internationally recognized certification that requires a continuing education to maintain certification. Owners that have dogs presenting with behavioral issues may be best helped by very experienced CCPDT trainers, Certified Dog Behavior Consultants or a Certified Vet Behaviorist .
Leighis a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and the owner of Opportunity Barks Behavior & Training, a full service dog training and behavior consulting company serving Greater Philadelphia. When not working with dog owners or shelter/rescue pros, she can be found out hiking with her dogs, Sweets and Tater Lou. For more information visit opbarks.com .