Making dog training a family affair – Part 3
Dogs do not come into the world knowing polite manners, so don’t expect your own family pet to abide by rules that it doesn’t know yet. Training is a process that takes time and repetition. Both management and training will be necessary to keep your dog out of trouble while it’s learning how to behave properly.
While teaching your dog good manners, you’ll also need to find ways to prevent it from engaging in undesirable behaviors that might turn into bad habits.
If you let your untrained dog have free run of the house it will potty in all the wrong places, chew your belongings, steal unwatched food from tables and counters, pull curtains down, dig holes in the flower garden, and maybe run into the road. Dogs don’t know any better than to do these things – until they’re taught more appropriate actions.
Begin by limiting your dog’s access to places where it might secretly misbehave. Don’t allow him to have the full run of your home until it’s completely housetrained and has learned what’s appropriate to chew and what isn’t. Keep the dog in the same room you’re in, so you can watch it carefully and prevent messy, dangerous, costly mistakes.
One Labrador owner that I know came from a successful day of fishing, dropped a dozen mackerel she’d caught on the counter, then fed her young Lab and left the room to change her clothes. She returned five minutes later to discover that not only had her dog finished its kibble, it had also gobbled down all 12 fish!
A proactive approach will give your dog the opportunity to get used to your general household routine and to practice the good behaviors you are teaching it. If the dog tries to slip away when you get distracted, either block the room’s doorways with baby gates or leash your dog to your belt to keep it with you. During times when no one is available to keep an eye on the dog, confine it in an enclosed puppy-proofed area either indoors or outdoors.
Keep training consistent
Training can be fun and fulfilling for the entire family or it can be fraught with frustration. Which way it goes depends upon how consistently you and your family keep the dog on track. The best way to be consistent is to decide on a set of rules everyone in the family can follow and get the family positively involved in your dog’s training.
Raising a great canine family companion isn’t a job for just one person. It takes a village – or at least a cooperative family – to raise and train a well-behaved dog.