6 Things You're Doing Right with Your Dog
1. Researching Your Breed Before Buying
Researching your breed before you buy is so important because it helps you be honest about the effort you are realistically able to put into your dog. While some breeds of dog are great family dogs, others are athletes, workers, all the way to non-workers. Researching dogs will give you activity level, grooming standards, life expectancy, etc.When you research and find the right breed for your situation, you eliminate dogs being dumped in shelters and give your dog a much better quality of life.
2. Using Rewards Your Dog Picked
Every dog is different and every dog gets to pick what they like and dislike. If you have found the toy, treat, affection, activity that your dog individually loves, you're doing it right! When you have the one thing your dog loves more than anything in the world, you can train them to do almost anything! Some dogs really love to sniff, so you can teach them a cue and use sniffing as a reward. Some dogs really love food or toys. Using these things as rewards makes you the provider of their rewards and makes them want to work harder for you!
3. Using High Value Dog Food
Researching your dog foods can help add years to your dog's life and also helps to supplement their bodies properly. Dogs need to have a mix of meat and vegetables in their diet and grains like corn and wheat don't hold much value. When you look at the ingredients label on your food, they list the ingredients in order of highest quantity to lowest in the food. You want to look for meat being the number one ingredient. To get a better break down of your dog food, go to http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com
4. Putting Your Dog in a Training Class
The number one killer of dogs in the US is lack of training. When a dog isn't properly trained, their problem behaviors, which are usually self-rewarding, become strong behaviors and they get relinquished or dumped at shelters because of it. When you put a dog in a training class, you learn how to respond properly to those behaviors and teach the behaviors you do want, all while exposing your dog to real life situations. It helps maintain a healthy socialization for your dog and with the right trainer, you will learn how to effectively communicate with your dog.
5. Exercising Your Dog
The number one reason problem behaviors pop up in dogs is lack of exercise. Researching your breed will give you much insight as to how much exercise your dog needs daily. Working and herding breeds need a large amount of activity every day, and when they don't get that, they can become very destructive in their daily lives. To keep your dog's mental health in check, they need proper sleep, feeding regimen, and EXERCISE! Those three things help keep your dog's chemical makeup balanced, reducing problem behaviors. If you start seeing problem behaviors pop up, first question to ask yourself is, "How much exercise am I giving the dog?"
6. Finding a Good Vet
Making sure you do your research and ask around for vets you like is a very good practice when you have a dog. Some people prefer to have holistic vets, specialized vets, behavioral vets, etc. Having a good vet who cares about you and your dog's needs is a must to ensure your dog stays as healthy as possible for as long as possible. An added tip: Look into an antibody-titer test for your dog instead of renewing your vaccinations every year. Antibodies stick with the body your dog's whole life just like ours, so getting the same vaccination every year could be putting your dog at risk. Talk with your vet about this.
6 Things You're Doing Wrong with Your Dog
1. Following Dominance Theory
Dominance in dog training is defined as a relationship between individuals that is established through force, aggression and submission in order to establish priority access to all desired resources (food, the opposite sex, preferred resting spots, etc). Many of the old studies that supported dominance theory have been disproven; many by the scientists who performed those studies in the first place. Modern dog training studies have found that dogs who most would categorize as "dominant" are actually more like school bullies. They don't act out of confidence, but out of insecurity most times. It's important to find a certified trainer through APDT.com or ccpdt.org who has experience finding the cause of bullying behaviors and can help treat the cause, not the symptoms. For more info on dominance myths, check out https://positively.com/dog-training/myths-truths/the-truth-about-dominance/
2. Using Your Dog's Name or Cues as Punishment
One of the simplest mistakes people do in dog training is using the dog's name or cues as a punishment. If your dog tears into the garbage and you scream their name or a come cue at them, you're lessening their want to respond to their name and the come cue. Dogs live in the moment and don't remember what they did. You have to catch them in the act, interrupt the behavior and immediately show them what you DO want them to do. Dogs learn by association, as Pavlov taught us, so if their name or cues are associated with getting in trouble, they will no longer respond happily to their name and you may even see some aggression come up as they try to protect themselves from punishment.
3. Using Training Tools as Training Fixes
Training tools that are commonly used in the training world may include choke collars, pronged collars, electric collars, gentle leaders, harnesses, and many more. These tools may be used by your trainer to give them more immediate control over your dog based on the energy and power levels of your dog. The thing to remember is that the goal of training is to communicate what you want effectively with your dog no matter what restraint they have on. The end goal should be to walk with your dog on a flat collar with a loose leash around MANY distractions. If you notice you are relying more on the tool than the training, you may be with the wrong trainer or using wrong techniques with your dog.
4. Over or Under-Grooming Your Dog
Finding the right grooming regimen for your dog is very important in maintaining your dog's hygiene. Some dogs have hair, and not fur, which grows constantly and will need to be cleaned and cut by a professional groomer so it doesn't mat up. Other dogs may have long fur that sheds, and if not brushed as per the breed standards, the shedding fur may get stuck and become matted. Other dogs have short fur that may not need to be brushed all the time. Based on your dog's needs, talk to a groomer and figure out what's best for your dog. An added tip: Shaving double coated dogs will not only ruin the quality of their fur, but it will take away their insulation from the elements, leaving their skin susceptible to infections and sun damage.
5. Under-Socializing Your Dog
Puppies in particular have about 16 weeks to get a huge amount of socialization training done. They need to see as many people, as many animals and dogs, and be put in as many situations as possible during this time, and in a positive manner. This is when they form the bulk of their fear reactions and learn about the world around them. Although this is the most critical time for your dog to socialize, it is equally important that their socialization continues their whole lives. They should continue to get out and play with other dogs, other people, and other animals in a positive manner to help keep them socialized and well mannered. When trainers say dogs are social creatures, they don't necessarily mean the dogs make a family unit, it also means they are social with many other species of animals, so it's up to us to help maintain their sociability.
6. Correcting Your Dog for Communicating
One of the most deadly mistakes you can make with your dog is punishing them for communicating themselves to you. An example of this would be smacking, collar jerking, or holding their mouth closed when growling at another person. Harsh corrections, such as were listed will work to suppress the growling or barking, but as we know, dogs learn by association and you're actually teaching them that whenever that trigger of growling or barking is around, they're going to be punished. This will make them feel the need to defend themselves against that said trigger, and you have just stopped them from communicating discomfort, creating an unpredictable dog who will lash out without warning. Allow your dog to communicate. Find a trainer who can read what is causing the barking or growling behavior, such as fear alarm, or play alert barking, and treat the cause, not the symptoms!