As a dog walker, not only do I walk, and handle lots of different dogs, I meet a lot of other dogs out and about and talk to a lot of dog owners. When chatting about our mutual love of dogs, individuals, breeds or dog sports I always end up circling around to training generally what is good training, what is bad training, and what is imperative. Since the onset of Covid-19, and the subsequent lock downs, many people have gotten dogs, some puppies, some rescues, but there has been a huge increase of young dogs out there.
Due to the lock down measures in the UK, many of these dogs have missed out on vital socialization, and incredibly important basic training. The knock on effect to this, is now the dogs are a lot older, and the lack of socialization is now becoming apparent. A lot of these dogs are now nervous, displaying stress behaviors, unable to be walked near or past other dogs as they are developing nervous or fearful reactions to everyday situations. To be honest, it is something that breaks my heart! It is something that could have been avoid, especially if the dog was purchased from a breeder as a puppy.
For those of you who are thinking of getting a puppy, I have one very solid bit of advice for you and I cannot remember where I heard it from originally other wise I would give them credit as it is very good advice and here it is.
When you take on an animal a dog, a horse, whatever it is, teach them good manners and build their confidence. Help the dog learn that jumping up, no matter the size of the dog, is NOT ok. Teach them talk calmly on a lead. Help them learn that they are safe and happy in a car, or going for a walk through town, or going in and out of door ways. Teach them to be calm when having harnesses put on, or their nail clipped.
The reason for this is clear, well at least to me, not only are you setting your dog up for life by teaching them the basics. But you are also ensuring that if anything happens to you, anything at all, from a hospital trip, a divorce, or death, if anything happens, someone will want to care for your dog. They will be easily rehomed, or temporarily taken by their walker/petsitter/family member, without a second thought. The main cause of death in young dogs, isn't illness, obesity, or genetic illnesses, its actually euthanasia, normally as a result of behavioral issues. Set your dog up for a bright and happy future, regardless of whom they are with at the time.
Training basics, look at positive reinforcement! Everyone wants to work for treats, games, and time with their favorite person paying them attention.
Avoid punishing your dog, like seriously, your dog doesn't need to be scolded because you didn't take them out to pee or because you left a roast chicken in sight and access.
(and NO, they don't know any better!)
Be kind, respectful and take the time to learn and understand about your dogs body language. Because NO, most of the time your Pomeranian, chihuahua or other small dog does NOT want to be carried around in your arms, or be constantly petted.
If you have sat and read all of this text, I applaud you. Please do get in touch for training advice or walking tips. I am and always will be more than happy to help.