Obedience training for your pets
by SAM HYER
“In many ways, dogs are like children,” says Bob Yamall Jr. of Kimbertal Kennels, Kimberton, PA., a nationally respected judge, breeder and trainer. They are curious and lively—dogs will spend much time trying different activities and exploring new behaviors. But only by consistent, firm obedience training will they learn the subtle nuances of civilized behavior in a human household—namely your household.
Yamall specializes in breeding and training Dobermans and Rottweilers. He says that once your dog realizes that you are his sole source of food, walks and amusement, he’ll try a variety of ways to attract your attention so he gets what he wants.
Let’s say that constant barking, whining or jumping on others gets the desired result; your dog will continue to do it until you teach him otherwise. This is where obedience training comes into play. The time to begin training your puppy comes when you first bring him home.
The most important command is “come when called.” It is the first thing you need to teach your puppy—his name and to answer to it. This is easy to do. Just call the pup by name each and every time you address him, and praise him lavishly when he comes to you. Talk to him, using his name and the same words over and over, and soon he will know what you mean and desire. For example when you put him in his crate say, “Crate, Benny.” When it is dinnertime say, “Dinner, Benny,” and time to potty, “Potty, Benny.” Short and simple will assist your pet in knowing what you desire, and his desire is to please you. So make it easy for him to do so, and reward him for doing it, so it is his desire to repeat the loving moments between the two of you. By keeping the phrases simple and repetitious, it will not take long for a young pup to figure out that “dinner” means food, “car ride” is a trip, “out” and pup will head for the door, or “crate” and pup will go to his room.
You also need to teach your pet to behave when the doorbell rings and when you and other family members arrive home. When your pup runs over to joyfully greet you, give him some attention but do not let him jump up. Instead, bend down, speak to him and scratch him behind the ears. If your fur friend continues to jump up after you have given him an attentive greeting, you will need to correct him. If he is a large dog, try the knee method. Simply bring your knee up gently to make contact with his chest, which puts distance between the dog, the jump and you. The contact with his chest will push him back to the ground. This is not intended to be rough! But consistently and gently do this each and every time he jumps up, so that he learns that you mean staying off people makes you happy. Be sure to reward “off” behavior. When visitors arrive, have your puppy on a leash. Loop the leash under your foot so when the puppy tries to jump, you can pull your end of the leash. The pressure of your foot will keep the pup firmly anchored to the ground. When he tries to jump, give him a short tug (not jerk) on the leash to pull him back. Ask your visitor to lean down to pet the pup, all the while keeping a little pressure on the leash so your pet cannot jump up on your guest.
You also want to teach your pet not to beg for food. Everyone knows that human food is no longer a treat or appropriate for dogs. Over the years of domesticating dogs, they do not have the internal abilities to break down the meat and foods they would have normally eaten in the wild. We have given them processed food for generations and that is what they thrive on. Keeping the weight off and the proper nutrition for our companion animals is one of our greatest responsibilities as a pet parent. The best way to break your pet from begging is to never give in and feed him when you or your guests are eating.
Since your dog will most likely take trips in the car throughout his life—to the vet, the groomer, to the lake, the pet store, maybe even through the woods to grandmother’s house—it is important to teach him good riding habits. It was a study I read some time back that inspired us to always travel with our beloved fur family in crates. The study noted that of the auto accidents in which the dogs were in crates, the survival rate was higher. That was enough for me. It went on to say that loose pets in an auto can distract the driver and potentially cause an accident. So just as we buckle in our family members, your pet needs security also. There are travel crates and doggy seatbelts. If your pet gets car sick, the first thing to keep in mind is to not feed for a couple of hours before a road trip. Also point the door of the crate away from a window. If you are able put it in the middle of the back seat or on the flat surface of the rear of your SUV. Some caregivers suggest Benadryl-type products to ease anxiousness. Your vet can tell you if your pet can benefit from medications. Like before, come up with a short verbiage for trips—“Let’s go,” or “Car ride”—and use it each time you put your pup in the car.
Next month we will continue with more training tips. Until then, give your fur baby a hug and a kiss from their Nana Sam.