BY DEL MAR DOG TRAINER LINDA MICHAELS
Top 10 Do’s and Dont’s for Your Dog in the New Year
If you’re adopting a dog this holiday season or choosing a puppy, think carefully about how you will select, socialize and train the new addition to the family.
1. Don’t choose a pup on the spur of the moment or value cosmetics over temperament and personality. The behavioral pick of the litter is generally the middle puppy: The feistiest or the shyest may have been either a bully or a victim.
2. Do take your time. It’s a lifetime commitment. Breeders have a lot of responsibility for proper socialization to humans and stranger dogs, as breeders house and care for the puppies during the first 1/2 of the critical socialization period. Rescue pups come with either more or less behavioral issues than when relinquished, largely dependent on the rescue, or shelter’s choice of training methods. Check the breeder, shelter or rescue organization grounds and training policies carefully. We believe in adoption of dogs in need of homes as a first choice!
3. Do socialize as early as possible. Socialize slowly and carefully to people, stranger dogs and moving objects with frequent and regular exposure. If your dog is fearful or aggressive, the dog park is not the place to practice. It can make things worse… and it’s not fair to the other dogs.
4. Don’t wait until your dog has received all of her/his vaccinations to begin safe socialization activities. Check the PetProfessionalsGuild.org for your socialization checklist, to learn how Socialization and Vaccinations Go Together as well as Operation Socialization for more safety guidelines.
5. Do use “Do No Harm’ training methods. Show your love in the way you train by adopting the Hierarchy of Dog Needs guide to wellness and behavior modification. Establish clear boundaries and be consistent.
6. Don’t use old-fashioned dominance methods or collar equipment that may hurt your dog both psychologically and physically.
7. Do “listen” to your dog’s body language and vocalizations. Your dog talks to you and to dogs through behavior, body language and vocalizations. Speak your dog’s language by using hand signals.
8. Don’t mistake fear for respect. Dogs don’t and never will “respect” anyone. Their brains are not sufficiently complex to process a concept such as respect.
9. Do use the power of food to train and change emotions in your dog. Later, transition slowly to affection, toys and real life reinforcements.
10. Don’t forget your furry new bundle of joy depends on your care, kindness, patience and diligence to make his new home a warm and wonderful place to be all year long.
Linda Michaels, M.A., Psychology Del Mar dog trainer and speaker is rated one of the top ten dog trainers in the U.S. by Top Ten Magazine. She may be reached at 858.259.9663 or by email:LindaMichaelsPositively@gmail.com for private behavioral consultations near the San Diego Coast. Visit us at DogPsychologistOnCall.com
Originally published in the U~T San Diego, Scratch n’ Sniff