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    Getting the basics right

    Getting the basics right

    Whether you are just about to bring a dog into your home, or you have decided to start anew on your relationship, it is important to be sure that his surroundings are appropriate and that you have all the equipment you need.

    Environment

    Make sure the environment is safe. Trailing electrical wires, mobile and portable phones, clutter, shoes, clothing, childrens' toys and so on can be very inviting to a young or bored dog, sometimes with disastrous consequences. Some garden plants are poisonous and, of course, chocolate and various common household and garden products, such as slug pellets, anti-freeze and pesticides, can be fatal. There is plenty of information on the Internet regarding toxic plants and household products so carry out research to ensure your home and garden are dog-friendly. Crate training (way 1) will help you to keep your dog in a safe chew-free environment when you are out and at night.

    Cookie is really happy to spend tine in her indoor kennel and even chooses to enter it on her own when she wants to rest

    Equipment

    To work effectively with your dog when using this book you will need: a clicker, a whistle, a target stick, a mat, treats and a long line (see photograph). You will need a grooming kit, which might include a sheepskin mitt and a Jelly Scrubber™, made by Tail Tamers. First and foremost you need a flat collar, a harness and a double-clipped leash as these enable you to have more control with dogs that pull, lunge, walk on their hind legs or leap about when on the leash and diminish the chances of accidentally jarring your dog's neck or hurting him in any way.

    Toys and appropriate play

    Dogs build close bonds and relationships through play and physical contact. In the litter, puppies learn to play games to establish how to possess articles, and how to give them up, including the best teat and a comfy spot to sleep. It is important to play with your dog and equally important to set boundaries for play.

    Try to establish two types of toy for your dog - ones that are safe for them to play with alone, and others that you can play with too. For the first type, rubber Kong™ toys or similar are ideal because they can be stuffed with treats that will occupy him safely and give him an important outlet for chewing (please read the important safety note, right). Let your dog know that you are pleased to see him play with or chew these toys, but avoid playing a shared game with him as ideally you want him to learn how to entertain himself safely. Your dog will probably try to encourage you to play by bringing a chew toy and dropping it on your feet or in your lap. Just be neutral; do not make an issue of it or acknowledge his action. Get up casually and put on the kettle or look out of the window. The toy will drop to the floor and the dog will soon accept that his chew toy is not an effective tool for gaining your attention.

    You will need some specifi c equipment to work through the exercises in this book: 1 double-clipped leash, 2 long line, 3 mat, 4 flat collar, 5 clicker, 6 whistle, 7 treat pouch, 8 target stick, 9 harness

    Marie and Maisie demonstrating a collar, harness and double-clipped leash. This combination provides plenty of choices when it comes to teaching your dog how to move in balance on the leash.

    Cookie is having great fun playing with a squeaky toy

    Stuffed with treats, rubber Kongs™ enable a dog to amuse himself

    In addition to the chew toys, you will need a few mutual play toys, such as a ball on a rope, a tuggy toy, a squeaky toy and so on. You can also buy some games from the range of interactive dog toys developed by Nina Ottosson Put these toys out of the dog’s reach and when you want to play with him, get them out and invite him to play a shared game (see ‘Playing a shared game’, way 18). If he chooses not to, just pretend you are having tremendous fun with the toy, then put it away and carry on with what you were doing before (or go and reassure any spectators that you have not lost your marbles). If he does join in, start teaching the shared game and end it while he still wants to play, so that you always leave him wanting more. This will help maintain his interest in the toys, and in his interaction with you.

    TOYS A VERY IMPORTANT SAFETY NOTE

    When purchasing a toy that can be stuffed with treats make sure you pick one that has a hole all the way through it. When a dog plays with a toy that has a hole at each end and is solid in the middle, his mouth can create a vacuum that may trap his tongue inside the toy, causing it to swell. This will result in panic and distress; it could cause serious injury to your dog and may even be fatal.

    Exercise

    Walking your dog is not just about giving him exercise; it also provides mental stimulation. He gets to check out new scents, become an authority on the local wildlife and to see what is going on his neighbourhood. A visit to the park, the beach or the country will keep him more mentally satisfyed than an hour’s blast around the property he already knows. If a dog is reluctant to venture outside during excessive heat or in three feet of snow, however, the exercises listed in this book will help to keep him active on all levels. If you are the one that is reluctant to brave the elements, remember there is no such thing as bad weather, just unsuitable clothing!

    Exercise provides necessary mental and physical stimulation

    Games to avoid

    Avoid play fighting, especially with large breeds and where children, elderly or disabled people come into regular contact with your dog. This is a game of strength and generally involves mouthing and play biting (from the dog). It is not fair to engage in games that may get your dog into trouble if he tries to play them with somebody else or that might encourage behavior you cannot cope with. Chasing is often encouraged when children are playing and the dog attempts to join the game. It also occurs when there is unsupervised, rough play with other dogs and animals. It is important that your dog does not learn to view children and other animals as moving chew toys. Leave a light webbing leash trailing so that you can quietly pick it up and call a ‘time out’ during play sessions. If children are playing fast, noisy games it is unfair to expect your dog to remain calm. Chasing games can cause problems when the dog picks up something he should not have. Dogs learn very quickly that they are able to keep possession of a ‘trophy’ by moving faster and squeezing into smaller places than a human can. They also learn to steal items that get your immediate attention. Try to ensure that your dog has more fun if he comes when he is called than he does if he runs away (if you are already experiencing this type of problem, see ways 18, 19 and 20).

    If your puppy gets overexcited and begins to rip up a soft toy or tear a squeaky toy to get the squeak out, end the game straightaway. This is a ‘killing’ game that can become over-the-top and is potentially aggressive.

    Socialization

    Socialization is important. Even if you live a solitary life you still need to ensure that your dog responds to basic commands, sees plenty of sights and has the opportunity to meet other animals and people so that a trip to the vet or a stay in a boarding kennel does not blow his mind or cause upset to other beings. It is also worth teaching your dog to spend time alone, even if there is always someone around, as circumstances do change and it is always possible that an overnight stay at the vet may be required at some point. It is also important that your dog has time to play with other dogs. As hard as we try to understand our dogs and shape their behavior so that they live happily alongside their human companions, nothing takes the place of a romp with another canine friend. Join a club, or meet up with local dogs for a hike or a game in the park. You can even arrange play dates for your hound. (Ways 37–48 all focus on socializing your dog.)

    Cookie thinks hands are toys, and her teeth cause serious bruises. She needs to be re-educated in a way that is fun and rewarding for her (and us)

    Dogs enjoy the company of other dogs

    Training the family

    Communication is the key to any successful relationship and this includes communication between everyone that will be looking after or interacting with the dog and, of course, with the dog himself. In order to work effectively with your dog, you need to train everyone in the family to ensure that he is not receiving mixed messages. It is unrealistic to expect the dog to learn how he should behave if everyone has a different idea of what constitutes acceptable behavior. If you want him to settle at night on his own in the kitchen, for example, it will be confusing if someone decides to take him to bed with them because they are feeling in need of a cuddle.

    Setting boundaries

    Prevention is better than cure and it is only fair to your dog if you establish some ground rules as soon as you bring him home. Once you have consistent boundaries you can afford to be more flexible, but at the beginning of your relationship it is easier to create a structure and routine that your dog understands as it will help him to feel safe and secure. Planning for the future is vital for a successful and harmonious existence. If you own a young dog, remember he will grow. An enthusiastic puppy that jumps up with great gusto to greet visitors may be endearing in the short term, but if Great Auntie Ethel is felled the moment she walks through the door by a mature, slobbering heavy weight, relationships may become a little strained. The puppy that was once the apple of your eye and a part of every social scene may then be relegated to the yard or back room as he starts to mature, which will frustrate him and give rise to a whole host of other problems. If you have taken on a rescue dog remember his life is good now because he lives with you. Not every dog that is in the shelter has had a bad experience. Remaining attached to the past is not helpful to a dog, and pity can severely limit our abilities to help him. Even if you know for a fact that he has been badly treated and has developed problems as a result, he is still a dog who would like to learn new skills and who can probably be successfully rehabilitated using the exercises in this book.Planning for the future is vital for a successful and harmonious existence. If you own a young dog, remember he will grow. An enthusiastic puppy that jumps up with great gusto to greet visitors may be endearing in the short term, but if Great Auntie Ethel is felled the moment she walks through the door by a mature, slobbering heavy weight, relationships may become a little strained. The puppy that was once the apple of your eye and a part of every social scene may then be relegated to the yard or back room as he starts to mature, which will frustrate him and give rise to a whole host of other problems. If you have taken on a rescue dog remember his life is good now because he lives with you. Not every dog that is in the shelter has had a bad experience. Remaining attached to the past is not helpful to a dog, and pity can severely limit our abilities to help him. Even if you know for a fact that he has been badly treated and has developed problems as a result, he is still a dog who would like to learn new skills and who can probably be successfully rehabilitated using the exercises in this book.

    Containing and restraining

    At some point your dog will probably need to be restrained. It may be necessary for him to be held for a veterinary examination or he may have to be stopped in his tracks if he is shooting through an open door or gate leading on to a busy road. If trust in being handled has been built up over time, he probably won’t resist. When taught in the right way (see way 11, Practice calm containment), your dog will ultimately accept restraint without panicking, but it is not a good way to start your relationship with a puppy, and can trigger fear and confusion. There is a big difference between restraining and containing. Restraining makes a dog stay in place, containing asks the dog to stay. Restraining causes the pup to resist and struggle, and the natural reaction of the nervous system makes the person increase their grip, which will panic the puppy. He will then use everything at his disposal to get free. This is pure survival instinct, but even a tiny puppy can be scary when he is fearful of being restrained. TTouch has wonderful tools to help build the trust required. The techniques used contain, rather than restrain the dog and this method can be used for most situations at the vets as well. Containing encourages patience, calmness and con dence in the handler. The non-habitual movements of TTouch help to quieten the nervous system and improve focus.

    Everyone in the family needs to be in agreement when it comes to training your dog. Naomi is teaching Cookie appropriate food bowl behavior to avoid problems developing later on

    From 100 Ways to Train the Perfect Dog, Copyright by Sarah Fisher, licensed through ContentOro, Inc and used by arrangement with D & C

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