How to have a decently behaved dog? Utilize these key tips, give it time and watch the situation improve.
Consistency is the key.
On average, people get astonished about my dog’s obedience. Yet, I have to admit he is a bit overrated. For sure, he is many steps above an average dog I see around but still far from an elite dog obedience champion.
I should admit walking him is a pleasure, even off the lead. He stays with my wife and I and when I ask him to walk to heel, he happily does. When I tell him to stop, he does it. When I call him back, he returns quickly (unless he has another dog on his face) and so on…
However, if you ask me, I cannot recall myself giving consistent and active training to my dog. What I did was having consistent expectations from him.
I have acknowledged his animal nature but, at the same time, I have demanded from him a social conduct to be respected.
In other words, “we have met half way”.
I have very little tolerance for antisocial behaviour whether it comes from dogs or from people.
I am not the type of person that will find 1001 ways to find elaborated explanations to justify the bad behaviour of an individual or a group of people. I prefer to hold the antisocial person or group accountable for their actions.
Nevertheless, when it comes to dogs, I acknowledge that a dog is a dog but is under the responsibility of a human. The latest is responsible for the dog’s conduct and has to keep the dog’s antisocial behaviour to a minimum.
1 – Control your dog.
It is normal, especially for young dogs, to get overly excited at the sight of another dog walking by.
Always expect calm behaviour from your dog. He may be a little puppy yet, and you may find the behaviour cute. But when your dog grows into a full-fledged dog yanking at the lead, trying to pull “your shoulder out of its socket” and wanting to go for the other dog while everyone around is grabbing their terrified kids and walking away from you… That’s no longer cute.
Since he’s little, teach your dog to be calm around other dogs. Put a stop to the overly excited behaviour and demand calm attitude.
You can achieve that by having the attention of your dog focused on you. The easy way is to have something of great value to your dog, like a treat or a toy, and associate it with the command you use to demand calmness from your dog.
While passing next to another dog, give the command and the treat as a reward for good behaviour.
Keep giving the reward to the dog until it becomes second nature for him to be calm while passing other dogs. You will reach a point where treats are no longer needed but you need to be consistent with your dog. Always expect calm behaviour. From the first day of his life to the last, you are in charge.
If your dog is an adult and has a problem with antisocial behaviour, he will benefit from a desensitization program. Never ignore your dog’s misbehaviour and provide correction and directions.
2 – Sit and stay for as long as it is needed.
There are moments where your dog has to chill next to you without getting distracted and moving.
This is the case of being in public places like cafe, bar or anywhere where you are expected to have a good time and let others have their good time too.
In this places is imperative that your dog stays on the lead and is relaxing next to you.
Don’t be a typical ___________ (feel free to fill in the blank) with a tiny dog or a happy jolly labrador off the lead, allowed to go on any other dog’s face around, just because your dog is friendly and social. Other people are trying to enjoy their time; their dog may be fine but may not like your dog’s overwhelming behaviour and lash out at your dog. And if that happens do not act like a _________ (again you can fill in the blank) pretending your dog is a victim and the other is a dangerous and aggressive dog. It’s not a dog park and nobody cares how happy jolly your dog is. Keep her on the lead and under control, you ___________ (you chose the noun).
If your dog can’t behave, work on her behaviour first or leave her at home.
3 – Always give commands.
To have a dog under control, it is imperative for your dog to have basic training and for you to teach her that. For basic training I mean sit, stay, lay down and come.
You can start teaching these to your dog by providing her with tasty rewards but, eventually, the reward can be associated with good times.
Playing is one of these good times. For example, my dog loves to play fetch. Because of that, I ask him to perform basic commands while playing. Complying with my requests means I will throw the ball and the fun continues.
Keep asking your dog to perform commands while walking. If you are about to cross a junction, demand your dog to sit and stay (or simply stay and wait) even if no car is approaching.
Always expect your dog to walk to heel: you are walking your dog, not the other way around.
Demand your dog to sit and stay before presenting her with food and give her the command to go ahead and start eating. This is not about being the alpha, the leader, the top dog or whatever you want to call it; it’s about having your dog focused on you and your commands. The latest will become a part of your dog’s daily routine.
In conclusion, there will be moments when your dog will disappoint you and that is inevitable. But even then, don’t lower your expectations. Keeping your dog calm and not overly exciting him is at the core of what I’m trying to say.
You need to make the decision for him, not him for himself. A dog following its animal instinct can make sense in the wild but can have a disastrous result in a civilized human society.
If you want to have a good time with your dog, decide today that you are going to expect total obedience at all times for the rest of his life. Overly excitement will only be allowed during play time, provided that it is the right place and time.
Remember, your freedom as a dog owner ends where the freedom of other dog owners and ordinary people starts.
I hope you have enjoyed this article and if you like to learn more, please, feel free to subscribe to this blog.
Also, if you like the topic of dogs, please check my book ‘Before You Get A Dog’ by Simone Burani. You will find the essential knowledge written in simple language to have a great time with your pet.