When I was kid we had a big German Shepard named Duke. He was great dog who was very friendly and always happy. He loved hanging out in the backyard, playing, jumping in water and doing all sorts of cool doggie things. As I remember it, Duke was just one easy going, awesome dog.
Years later when my husband and I were preparing to move into our first home in Manteca, we began recalling how great our childhood pets were and came to the conclusion that we needed to have a dog of our own in our new home.
What neither of us realized until after we brought home our 8-week old Doberman-Shepherd, Rico, was that it was our parents that did all the work with our childhood pets, training them to be so great and that we as kids, just reaped the benefits of our wonderful dogs.
As crazy as it sounds, it was a real rude awaking to discover that in the midst of our already busy life with work, a new home and raising kids, that all the feeding, washing, walking, brushing, cleaning of the yard (a.k.a doggie outhouse) and the endless training for our dog didn’t just magically happen like it seemed to in childhood.
It didn’t take us all that long to figure out that Rico didn’t come automatically well adjusted and that we needed some help. Fortunately, we found that Pet Smart offered dog training classes, or as the famous dog whisperer Cesar Milan often says, classes that “train people” how to work with their dog.
Through these classes we learned how to use positive reinforcement to teach Rico some much needed commands such as:
uSit — which is the easiest of the commands to teach, particularly as treats are involved.
uCome — a command helpful in keeping dogs out of trouble when they’re off the leash.
uDown — a more difficult yet essential command because the position is a submissive posture.
uStay — an excellent command for self-control.
uLeave it — a command that keeps a curious dog safe from something potentially dangerous.
Out of all the training we received the most important thing we learned was the need dogs have for socialization. Contrary to our childhood understanding, dogs don’t like to be left in the backyard, hanging out alone without any interaction going on. Like most people, dogs need a social life too.
Research shows that socializing dogs particularly within the first 12 weeks of age when a puppy’s brain is most open to accept new experiences, helps them to develop a positive outlook on life, people and their surroundings versus feeling fearful or skittish about everyone and everything. Without proper socialization dogs can actually develop poor behavior and unprovoked aggression.
Beginning, intermediate and advanced dog training classes not only teach our beloved pets needed disciplines but also create a perfect environment for socialization. Another excellent source being regular visits to a pet salons or doggie day-care which not only keeps things exciting for you pet but helps to create that easy going nature.
The reason my husband and I had positive childhood memories of our pets was because someone else (our parents) put in the work. When it was our turn and we put the work of training and socializing Rico and other dogs since him, we have found that we not only develop and easy going, well adjusted pet, but a faithful four-legged friend for life.