raising dog book review

raising dog book review

Raising a Well-Behaved Dog: A Comprehensive Guide

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1. Introduction

This book is written mainly for a group of people who want to do something a little more different for their animal, and a little more special for themselves in their quest for the ultimate companion and pet, and who are willing to put in the time and effort toward achieving that goal. Because this book is more concerned with the adult dog and his relationship with his people, it will instill comprehensive knowledge on just how a good, well-behaved dog is developed and maintained throughout a lifetime. Many people have an overwhelming desire for a dog that isn’t quite fitting in ‘today’s dog world’. A good dog, well-behaved and mannerly, a dog which doesn’t create anarchy with obnoxious behaviors and unwanted traits or characteristics. But, there are many who fail in obtaining this desire and therefore forfeit, giving up to the conclusion that their once beloved pet has turned into a nuisance and is totally out of control with so many behavioral problems, that giving them away or putting them down is the only solution. If any of the above somewhat relates to what you’ve found, seen or experienced with your now existing or once owned dogs, you’ve found the right place to seek answers. This book will allow any dog owner of any breed or mixed breed to reflect on their past and present dogs and compare to what they’ve had and felt and give a comprehensive understanding on why their dogs have done what they’ve done, and how to prevent or create a solution to altering unwanted behaviors and actions. This book will also allow different or new perspective dog owners to understand what it takes to achieve and accomplish a well-behaved dog throughout much of different dog developmental stages and learning to progress with plenty of new and acquired knowledge.

2. Understanding Dog Behavior

Dogs that dig usually do so to find prey or to create a cool place to lie. Certain breeds are natural diggers; for example, terriers often dig because it is a trait that has been bred into them. Dogs that destroy property left within the house are probably doing so out of boredom. A young, healthy dog needs both physical and mental stimulation. If there is nothing to do, a dog may become creative in finding its own means of entertainment. Measures to reduce destructive behavior involve providing dogs with interesting toys and finding other means of limiting boredom. These can include giving a dog a chew toy stuffed with food, or hiding tiny bits of food around the house to provide the dog with a scavenger hunt. Rewarding a dog for finding its toy or treats is a positive way of redirecting its energy into an acceptable activity.

When observing your dog’s behavior, it’s important to remember that your pet isn’t doing things to annoy you. Dogs usually act in a manner that coincides with their natural instinctive behavior. Some common behavioral problems exhibited by dogs are digging, destruction of property, and aggression. Understanding why your dog acts this way is an important first step in modifying its behavior.

3. Training Techniques for a Well-Behaved Dog

Positive reinforcement is the process of increasing the probability of a behavior reoccurring by either the addition of a reward or positive reinforcer, or the removal of a punishment or negative reinforcer. This is done so that the dog will show a certain behavior more often, or with more enthusiasm. Positive reinforcers will vary with different dogs. You can experiment to see what your dog likes, however, most dogs like food treats or attention. A positive reinforcer should be something that the dog likes and is only given for the desired action. A common mistake is using a positive reinforcer to lure the dog into doing the action and then giving it to the dog, at which the original action isn’t followed through. This is known as bribery and the dog won’t have learned anything.

When using a training technique with your dog, be sure to be consistent. Whether it is motivated by the dog’s bad behavior or to reinforce good behavior, consistency is the key. For example, if your dog is barking in the back garden and you don’t want it to, don’t let the dog out when it’s doing it and let it out other times. Similarly, if your dog is allowed on the furniture and one day you start training it not to by saying ‘off’ when it jumps on the furniture, if you don’t stick to this, it will cause confusion and the dog won’t understand what you are trying to do. Dogs learn things through continuous pathways, not in a single event. This continuous pathway works until the goal is reached. If you stop too early, you may end up with a half-trained dog. If you watch a professional dog trainers they constantly repeat the same commands and tasks, and then move onto more advanced tasks once the dog is consistently doing the basics. Professional trainers are consistent in timing as well, if you are too early or too late with a command, it may confuse your dog. Always try to give the command at the same point in the action you are trying to control. With most actions, especially those motivated by bad behavior, vigilance is important. This is the act of constantly watching the dog, and whenever it starts the behavior, stopping it and giving it an alternative task. This is the most effective way to condition a dog to not do an action because for every single time the dog does the action, you are stopping it and giving it an alternative. The more the dog is rewarded for the alternative and the less it is rewarded for the original action, the more likely the dog is to do the alternative next time. This is called the matching law and is one of the most general principles of behavior. It is a proportional equation that balances one type of behavior against another, in what is called choice behavior. This technique also applies to preempting, which is stopping a dog before it does an undesired action. Unfortunately, the plethora of training techniques advertised to dog owners usually causes more confusion than it helps. The truth is, there is no single best training technique, as it varies with the dog and the trainer. However, there are many techniques that are quite misconstrued and often done the wrong way. And even if a certain technique isn’t perfect, the fact that the trainer is consistent and clear can often make it work. Here are some basic techniques, consider the nature of your dog when using them.

4. Addressing Common Behavioral Issues

Dominant reactivity is seen in dogs that try to increase the distance of the new dog or person by going forward and barking. This can also result in a dog fight. These dogs are often the ones that are fine off leash with other dogs but will react on lead. Greeting a dog who is reactive in this way can often be a surprise to the guardian as the dog is often fine in a home situation with other dogs or people. This type of reactivity is often due to the dog taking the role of leader in the human-dog pack and feeling that they must protect the human from the oncoming person or dog. The best way to fix this is to teach the dog that they no longer have to be the leader and that it is no longer their decision as to who comes into their personal space.

Fear-based reactions often result in a dog trying to retreat from a situation but when this is not possible, a dog can become aggressive and bark and lunge at the new dog or person, sometimes nipping or biting. Fear-based reactions are usually seen in shy dogs and can often be contributed to a lack of socialization. Some dogs may have never learned to communicate with other dogs, so when they are put in a situation with a very forward dog, they can become very scared. The best thing to do with this type of problem is to slowly increase the dog’s comfort zone using positive reinforcement. It should also be noted that punishing a fear-reactive dog will only make the problem worse. This includes the use of training tools such as choke chains or prong collars. These will only reinforce to the dog that the situation is scary and that other dogs or people mean discomfort. High-pitched, fast voice nervously telling them to stop it or picking up the dog are all also forms of punishment.

Reactivity One of the most common behavioral issues that dog guardians have a problem with is reactivity. This is exhibited when a dog appears to overreact to a situation. This can be fear-based or based on dominance.

5. Maintaining a Happy and Healthy Dog

To keep a dog happy and healthy, you should: a. Provide lots of different activities and games to suit your dog’s age, breed, and temperament. Daily walks are essential to the well-being of most dogs, both mentally and physically. In addition, regular games, play, and varied training help channel your dog’s energy into useful and enjoyable outlets while at the same time strengthening the bond between you. b. Dogs are social animals. They need your company and the company of other dogs. Every dog is an individual, so although most thrive on being part of a human/dog family, some prefer only canine company. Whatever the case, left long hours alone, even at night, most dogs will become bored and lonely and are likely to develop behavioral problems. c. Once your dog is an adult, yearly health checks are usually sufficient, unless you have an elderly dog or one with a specific health problem where your vet may want to see the dog more frequently. d. Learn to read the signals given by your dog so that you can respond appropriately to his needs and prevent problems from developing. Many dogs suffer in silence, and an unmet need will often be shown in changed behavior. For example, a dog who suddenly starts to guard his food may be doing so because he fears it may be taken away or because he feels insecure about his status in the family pack. Monitor the effect of changes you make to your dog’s routine or environment on his behavior and take action to remove or modify any stressful changes.

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