The more dogs I train, the more one thing becomes more and more clear...owners must know the dog they have. Be it that your dog doesn't like small white dogs, your dog loves all people and wants to lick them, your dog is scared of the environment, whoever they may be, you as an owner have a responsibility to really know the dog you have.
I'm sure you are all wondering where on earth I am going with this. I am just amazed at how many dog owners don't understand the dog they own. Training is great, but if you don't understand the proper way to support or manage your dog, you may be missing the mark.
I had a training over the weekend with a very large dog. Owners of giant dogs have a responsibility to make sure that their dog does not jump, bite, and above all will listen. It is no longer a matter of obedience, due to the size of the dog, it is about safety. First, the owners were really not be honest with me or themselves about the state of the dog. Today I am looking at my bruised body from the amount of bites I took from an over sized dog that never learned not to mouth and learned not just to jump, but to jump up and hold on. Can I fix this? Not completely, but I can teach them to manage it and at least reduce a lot of this behavior.
It is just sad that this dog could have been so different with the right guidance from the beginning. Owners should learn about the breed and breed tendencies if they are getting a pure bred dog. As well, socialize your dog, not just with other dogs, but the world. Owners need to understand the tone that works best with their dog, it may be stern, it may be light, but not all dogs respond to the same tone. Figure out an exercise routine that fits you and your dog's schedule. Believe it or not, some basic problems can be reduced considerably or even disappear with the proper exercise. And last but not least, find the equipment that is the best for your dog. Just because you used a prong collar in the past, doesn't mean it is the right thing to use. There are so many options out there, start with the least corrective and go up from there, in my opinion choke chains and prongs should only be used as a last resort, not a first option.
Beyond safety and training, knowing your dog will allow you to have a connection with your dog that will benefit your relationship in all aspects. Having that connection will allow you to know when they are not themselves, due to sickness or otherwise. It also will allow them to trust you more and that will just open the door for so many things.
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