Dogs have been our best friends since long before we ever invented collars and training aids. In fact, back then, dogs followed us around because we simply fell into a natural leadership role for them. These days though, the world is very different, and dogs can’t simply run the streets and pick up our scraps. Not with 70 million pet dogs in the US and 968,496 in Oregon alone! Instead, we must become responsible pet owners to give them the lifestyle they deserve, so we can have the dog we always wanted.
The Responsibilities of Dog Ownership
At Canine Country, the goal of our training and boarding methods is to develop happy, healthy, and well-behaved dogs. Not everyone agrees on the right way to do this though. Indeed, 53% of dog owners never attend training at all, and a whopping 99.5% use rewards like treats for good behavior. At our dog training facilities in the Portland, Oregon area, we’ve found success by sticking to a few simple keys. We believe, that as dog owners, it is our responsibility to:
- establish leadership,
- eliminate confusion, and
- remain consistent.
When our customers accept and apply these keys, their dogs learn much more than they ever thought they could!
Become the Alpha of Your Pack
When it comes to taking care of a dog, just like a child, you need to establish authority. This allows them to sit back and relax, as they can trust you to guide them through their daily activities. Of course, you need to let them know what you want them to do, and they will only respond to this if they see you as an alpha figure. Leadership is about setting rules, which in turn eliminates confusion. You can do this by asserting your dominance over your dog in the way of:
- confident commands,
- high, yet realistic, expectations, and
- firm follow-throughs.
This leadership role is not only essential to getting our dogs to do what we say, but also in preventing them from hurting other dogs, or even worse, people. 4.7 million dog bites occur every year in the US, and 67% of those victims were at home with a dog they knew. Losing our dogs’ respect is much more dangerous than we might realize. On top of this, we must deal with the moral struggles that come up when our dog hurts someone else.
Create a Calmer Dog
You can pick your dog, but you can’t pick your dog’s personality. Unfortunately though, many people believe they can avoid extensive training by choosing the “right” kind of dog. In fact, the second most popular dog breed in the US is the Chihuahua. These pet owners believe that if their dog is small, it will be easier to control. We see quite the opposite though, as little dogs tend to put on more bravado to make up for their tiny stature. This is nature’s way of balancing the playing field.
If you want a calmer dog, it usually comes down to the training. Participation and follow-through in regular training is scientifically proven to:
- eliminate anxiety,
- increase happiness, and
- decrease disobedience.
Training stimulates the pleasure center of a dog’s brain, so it actually becomes physically addicted to listening to you. Consequently, the more you train, the more it wants to listen. Remember that training is not the only factor though. Personality, genetic make-up, your lifestyle, all of this and more combine to create the environmental conditioning unique to your dog.
Your Dog’s Training is Never Finished
Of course, there will come a day when you feel you’ve learned everything you need at Canine Country because you’ve achieved a happy, healthy dog, but the learning is never actually complete. They will have likely learned many new commands and dropped some unwanted behaviors. However, this does not mean your job is done. The key to a happy, healthy dog is your lifetime commitment to their well-being. No matter where or when, your dog will look to you to provide guidance for the rest of its life. If you simply stop being consistent and stop working with your furry friend, they will stop seeing you as their leader and could revert back to their old ways. Trust us; this is not something we have developed. We learned it from the dogs!