Our current schedule of training classes and workshops are inundated with new dog owners, all hoping to teach their puppies or adult rescues some obedience and manners. With many pets joining families over the holidays, we thought it was an opportune time to remind everyone how to be a responsible dog owner.
- Do pick up after your dog – your dog’s stool should be solid and easy to pick up, if it’s loose and smelly, then come and see one of our advisors to discuss the optimum diet for your dog.
- Do take your dog to training classes – whether you have a new puppy or an older rescue dog, it’s important to teach them basic commands such as sit, wait, leave and recall. If you want to continue building communication with your dog you can try our advanced obedience classes or fungility, or a sport such as flyball or canicross.
- Do teach your dog to walk nicely on a lead – many owners don’t worry if a small dog or puppy pulls on the lead, but it can be dangerous when the pavements become icy and it’s not good for the dog to be under so much strain, particularly if they are walked on a collar rather than a harness.
- Do normalise noises – along with socialisation, it is very important to expose a puppy to a variety of sounds as early as you can so that she does not become scared of events such as fireworks and new year’s eve.
- Do get your dog used to travelling in the car – regular trips in the car, along with dummy visits to the groomers or vets without something bad happening, can help your dog be relaxed whenever you travel together.
- Do treat your dog as part of the family – go on dog-friendly days out and holidays, enjoy long walks in the countryside and include them in as much of your life as you can.
- Do ensure your dog is microchipped and tagged – it is a legal requirement for all dogs to have a microchip, but it is the responsibility of the owner to update the contact information. Your dog must also wear a tag displaying your details when out in public.
- Do take time to learn your dog’s body language – most people know that a wagging tail is a sign of a happy dog, but being able to recognise the rest of your dog’s methods of communication will help you understand her behaviour and create a stronger bond.
- Do take photos – just like humans, a dog’s face and body will change over the years and puppies grow up particularly fast. As well as your own snapshots, consider having a professional record of your dog’s growth (click here for Unique Pets Photography).
- Don’t let your off-lead dog approach a dog on a lead – chances are there’s a reason the dog is on a lead, which can be anything from injury or nervousness to aggression. Some dogs wear an “I Need Space” yellow jacket or lead, but even if they aren’t, the last thing the dog on lead needs is a dog off lead in her face.
- Don’t disturb a working dog – some dogs do exceptionally important jobs for their humans, such as guide dogs, hearing dogs and medical assistance dogs. These working dogs have gone through extensive training and need to focus on the task at hand at all times, otherwise their owner may be in danger. Don’t disturb their concentration by stroking or fussing them.
- Don’t walk your dog off lead on a pavement – while you may trust your dog to stay by your side, it only takes one thing to spook your dog and she could cause an accident by running out into the road. Always keep your dog on lead and under control in built up areas.
- Don’t assume that all dogs are approachable – always ask the owner before petting a dog as seemingly-cute dogs can be reactive or aggressive to strangers, especially when on lead.
- Don’t let your child approach a dog – not all dogs are ok with strangers and many dogs find children particularly scary as they can be noisy and unpredictable. Always ask the owner first and teach your child to let the dog approach him, allowing time for the dog to sniff out the child before putting a hand out to invite a stroke.
- Don’t let your dog jump up – some owners find it funny when puppies or small dogs jump up at people in excitement, but it is less amusing when the dog is fully grown, has muddy paws or long nails.
- Don’t over-excite your dog – dogs don’t always know when they’ve had enough and need human intervention in order to calm down. Play, aggression, fear and sexual arousal all raise a dog’s excitement level and each one builds on the last, winding your dog up and clouding her ability to think rationally. It’s important to give your dog time to calm down otherwise she might react in an inappropriate manner.
- Don’t leave your dog in a hot car – when the weather is fine, a car can heat up to oven-like temperatures very quickly.
If you’ve just brought a new puppy home, read our guide on what to expect in the first year. If you’ve rescued an adult dog, book in with our trainer, Tom, for a rescue assessment and take time to get to understand the issues your dog may have so that you can build up his trust in you.
Don’t forget, you can call or come in to ask any questions about nutrition, holistic health, training, socialisation, grooming, photography, or any other concerns you may have.
Become a responsible dog owner and enjoy the new relationship and bond you will build with your four-legged best friend.
Written by: Lucy Ellis
Photos: Lola, Neo & Tilly by Gemma Buttery; Daisy Training by Rosie Mae; Jasmine, Domino & Matrix on the Beach by Emily Ladyman; Joy “I Need Space” Jacket by Jenna Hall; Rory & Darcey by Lucy Ellis