by Julia Breau
Did you know that dogs do not ever tire of barking? Their throats don’t get sore, it does not fatigue them, and they don’t innately realize that it is not “polite”! There are steps you can take and training you can undergo to minimize your dog’s excessive barking, but it is interesting to note that they will not naturally tire of this activity. So if you think you can wait them out, or that they will grow out of this behavior, you are sorely mistaken!
#2: That “Guilty Look”
You know that “guilty” look you get from your dog after they have relieved themselves inside, or torn apart your trash? When training my dogs I always thought “Look! They know what they did was wrong!”; I thought I could tell by their expression and body language. But in fact, that guilty puppy-dog look is actually a look of confusion. This is why you should never yell at your puppy when training him/her. Unless you have caught your dog in the act of doing something “naughty” you should not reprimand them because they will be confused about what they have done wrong. A common misconception that I have seen is picking your dog up and showing them the thing they did, thinking they will understand why they are being admonished. Truthfully, they will have absolutely no idea what they did wrong, and could end up being scared of you. The main goal when training a dog is to maintain a healthy level of respect between yourself and the animal. They should never fear you. So unless you catch your dog in the act of disobeying a rule or boundary, it would behoove you to refrain from admonishing them.
The third interesting training tip I learned was how to desensitize an anxious dog to the car. Although my own dogs love car rides, I have seen many dogs at the daycare, whether in their owner’s cars, or on our bus, become extremely anxious. When desensitizing your dog to the car and car rides you want to take your dog on very quick drives. It can simply be around your neighborhood to start. Secondly, you can start incorporating fun car rides! If you take your dog to the dog park, a pet store, daycare, or any place they absolutely LOVE they will start to associate the car ride with positivity. All things should be trained in quick, positive increments, and the earlier you can start desensitizing them to potentially anxiety provoking activities the better. While it is not impossible to teach an old dog new tricks, it is more difficult.
#4: Early Experiences
Dovetailing off of number three, I also found it quite interesting that the “experience a puppy has between 12-14 weeks of his life will have a profound and unchangeable impact on his personality and social outlook for the rest of his life.” Now, this may seem obvious to some, but it is the time frame that got me. A lot of people do not even bring their puppies home during that peak window, which means you have a limited time to impact your puppy mentally and socially. This is why it is always important to get as much information on your puppy as possible. If they are from a breeder you want to be informed what their short life has been like. If you rescue a dog from a shelter you want to find out as much information as possible. Where were they found? How has their overall behavior been since being at the shelter? Is there anything that has been worked on since they have arrived? Before coming to Dingo’s I did a lot of volunteering at Cape Ann Animal Shelter in Gloucester. During my time there we played with dogs, took them on walks and hikes, fed them, cleaned around them, and much more. Although puppies usually don’t stay at a shelter too long, they are still exposed to a substantial amount there before they are adopted and it is important to try and glean as much information as possible about their temperament and adaptability before you bring that dog home.
Lastly, as a beginner in training young dogs and puppies, I want to get into some detail about how important and beneficial it is to get that puppy socialized at a daycare setting that may not be as obvious! A well socialized puppy is much less likely to become aggressive or fearful of other dogs and people. I think this is the most important factor to consider. Bringing your puppy to daycare gets them used to different people, dogs and behaviors, and environments. A well socialized puppy will be able to handle normal stress in their environment much better than a dog who has not been socialized. It has also been proven that a well socialized puppy is able to relax themselves more when home alone, for short periods, compared to a puppy that has not been socialized. I think every dog owner can agree that being able to leave a dog home alone with little to no “damage” is extremely important. Finally, one of the main benefits from bringing a puppy to daycare is that they learn how to properly communicate with other dogs – being able to give and receive social cues from their conspecifics either in small or large group settings is important if you hope to bring your dog around other dogs. This will set them up for success in the future, but it is critically important to note that all of this has to transfer over in their home life as well. Dogs strive with consistency so as important as daycare is for young puppies, it is also important for owners to bring their dogs out to socialize with other dogs while the owner is present as well.
For more tips and tricks, or to set up a training session with me at Dingo’s, email me here: email@example.com.