You’re a dog owner! Congratulations! This is a job that comes with much joy, but also much responsibility. You love your dog and you want them to have the best life possible. You also realize that your dog is an animal and that you can’t know exactly what they’re going to feel, think or do at any given time. Safety is at the top of your mind for your dog, your child (if you’re a parent) and for kids and adults that your dog may encounter.
Know better what your dog is thinking by learning about dog body language. Is your dog happy most of the time, or are they stressed sometimes? What situations stress your dog? Once you know these things, you can take action to make your dog happier and safer.
Here are the most important things you can do to ensure that your dog is a happy and welcome member of your community
Top Three Tips for Dog Owners
1. Prepare your dog for the world
Make sure that your dog has positive experiences with lots of different people and situations. Every time you take your dog into a new situation, give him a delicious treat. Keep giving treats until the dog is happy and showing no signs of stress about the situation. When your dog meets new people, give the dog treats and then have the new person give the treats.
Desensitize your dog to touch. Prepare your dog for grooming, visits to the vet and things that children might do. Give your dog delicious treats, or let him lick cream cheese out of a Kong or other treat dispensing chew toy, at the exact time that you are touching him in ways that others might. For example you could simulate a vet visit by handling his ears as if to examine them, while giving him treats.
2. Supervise your dog
Keep your dog leashed in public. Teach him using positive methods to enjoy walking politely on a leash. Teach your dog to come when called so that you can get him away from a dangerous situation.
Supervise your dog around children. Trust is your dog’s worst enemy. There is no such thing as a 100% trustworthy dog. It’s your job to protect your dog from abusive treatment by children. It’s your job to protect children from you dog in situations where either dog or kids can become overly excited, stressed or anxious.
3. Train your dog using positive methods
The method you use to training your dog is very important. The best way to train a dog is to use a method that makes the dog happy and more confident. Studies have shown that using physical corrections or punishment causes stress and results in a dog that is more likely to bite. The person he’s most likely to bite is you or someone in your family! We recommend clicker training, but anything that uses toys, treats and play to reinforce desired behavior will result in a happy, more confident dog. This happy dog will be welcome in the community and will be less likely to be bothered by children or strange happenings. This dog will be less likely to get upset enough to growl, snap or bite.