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So You Want to be a Dog Owner!
Dogs 101

Dog owners fall into one of two categories, responsible or irresponsible. To become a responsible dog owner you will need to make a commitment to the dog for life. Dogs can live up to 17 years. If you are not willing to make this kind of a commitment, you should not get a dog. Maybe a fern would be a better choice! 

This commitment includes providing suitable accommodations, daily exercise, adequate mental stimulation, a healthy diet and health check-ups performed by a licensed veterinarian at least once per year. 

And even though the items above are very important to a dog's physical and mental well being, they are not the only things that will make your dog's life a good one.

Every responsible dog owner should at least know "the basics" and then be able to teach them to their dog. It sounds simple doesn't it? It should be, but you might be surprised to know just how many dog owners can not even make their dog sit or come when called. 

Not a day goes by that I don't see dogs leading (or more accurately ... PULLING), their owners down the street or owners yelling and cursing when their dog runs off down the block chasing a rabbit, the neighbor kids or worse, another dog.

Basic behavior training is a MUST if you want to have a happy, healthy and well adjusted dog. It's just as important for us as humans too! That's because if your dog is well trained, you will have less stress and you will be much more relaxed around your dog! 

I was actually asked one time, "Why do I need to train my dog? My answer was in the form of several questions: Would you allow your infant or toddler to make decisions for themselves? Would you allow them to grow up without solid guidance? No? So why should it be any different with your dog? Giving your dog a solid set of rules and boundaries is essential if you expect your dog to be obedient and respectful. You must bond with your dog and then become a good leader. After the bonding process is complete you need to working with your dog in a calm but firm way. It is also important to be consistent in your training if you expect your dog to understand what you want. 

  Basic behavior training consists of three main areas:
  • Building the bond between You and Your Dog
  • Knowing how to command the dog Correctly
  • Training the dog to execute the owner's commands

Once these three have been accomplished, the responsible owner must work with the dog on a daily basis to reinforce the training. Just like a human, if the dog doesn't use the things it has learned on a daily basis, over time it will forget them.

Building The Bond between You and Your Dog
Building the bond between you and your new dog is really a very easy thing to do. That's not to say that it's going to happen in a few hours!  It's not THAT easy!  It's going to take some time and effort on your part, but if you put in the time, it will happen much sooner.

Part of building the bond is earning your dog's trust and respect. A dog that trusts and respects you will live to server you and make you happy. Trust is the easy part. Your dog will learn to trust you as long as you provide a safe place to live, give it food and water, and spend time playing and walking it.

Respect is a bit more involved. The way you earn your dog's unconditional respect is to become a loving, consistent leader as well as a "best friend". Your dog needs to know that you are in complete control of every aspect of it's life. When your dog respects you it will want to follow your direction unconditionally. Setting simple rules and boundaries and enforcing them consistently gives your dog knowledge that you are in control. If you don't take control and assume the leadership role, your dog will. If your dog takes that role, you are going to have a dog that is out of control in a very short time. Most of the problems with out-of-control dogs can be linked back to an owner who has not provided the correct leadership.

Along with assuming the leadership role, it is important to first become a trusted friend. Take the time to find out what you dog likes and work with those things to build a relationship and reward good behavior. Take long walks on a leash, effectively use playtime activities, feeding and controlling indoor activities. If you are the good leader and a good friend, your dog will not only have no other choice but to become your follower, it will simply WANT to be one.

Knowing How to Command the Dog Correctly
Training the owner how to command a dog correctly with consistency is by-far the hardest part of dog training. The dog owner must to be willing to step up and take the responsibility to see that the dog knows what to do at all times. 

Sadly, a lot of dog owners think that they can send their dog off to "doggie boot camp" or to a local trainer and the dog will come back changed into the perfect dog. This just isn't true! While a professional trainer can be a great help in teaching a dog some basic commands, your dog still must learn to do it for you. This means that YOU have to know what to do and how to do it. You also must be consistent by using the same command each time.

Training the Dog to Execute the Owner's Commands
After, (and only after), you have the trust and respect of your dog, training your dog to execute your commands will become relatively easy. At this point it becomes just a simple matter of being consistent with your commands, understanding how your dog responds to those commands and your ability to show your dog what you mean when you say the commands. (ex. Holding your open hand up while saying, "Sit" will produce the reaction of the dog dropping to the sit position).

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