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Positive Dog Parenting

by Rolan Tripp, DVM and Susan Tripp, MS/P

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In the beginning...

Before bringing a new dog home, it is helpful to think about what rules you want for the adult dog long term. For example, it is a mistake to allow a Great Dane puppy to sit on your lap on the couch if you do not want the adult dog to get on your furniture. Dogs don't realize the rules have changed because they grew into bigger dogs! The more consistent you are in teaching and reinforcing the rules, the easier it will be for your dog to learn and respect them. Sounds a little like raising children doesn't it? The rules should be fair, clear, and consistent.


The best time to begin teaching house rules is the day your bring a new puppy or dog home.

Recommended rules for dogs

1.  Set up for success -  If you do NOT want the dog on your furniture, begin by sitting on the floor when you want the puppy or dog on your lap.

2.  Provide enough exercise - Dogs need a minimum amount of exercise each day. Rule of thumb is to walk the dog one city block for every ten pounds of body weight. Or, apply the same rule that is recommended for humans, daily walks that incorporate thirty minutes of aerobic exercise every other day. Don't be mislead if you have a large backyard. Just like people, dogs need the mental stimulation of getting out of their immediate environment. In other words, your dog needs to experience new smells, sights and sounds as much as he needs the physical work out. Less active dogs may need less aerobic exercise. Rule of thumb is to walk until the dog is panting and be home before the dog stops the walk on his own.

3.  Insist on compliance - Do not ask the dog to comply with a request or instruction unless you are willing and able to follow through and insist on compliance. Insistence is not done in anger or with brute force. If the dog does not comply, gently move the dog preferable using a head collar and leash not your hands. If the dog does not comply, do NOT use treats to lure (different for obedience cues). Instead with hold your attention and give the dog a "time out" by you walking away or putting them in another room for a few minutes, then try again. This is for things such as putting feet on the counter or up on furniture and you want them off. Come back and work on training the "off" cue after the time out or when you have time.

4.  No table scraps - NEVER give the dog food from the table unless you are prepared to have a dog that begs. Just like people in Las Vegas, the dog will be reinforced by intermittent rewards. It only takes a few table scraps to start the dog on a lifetime of begging when you are seated at the table.

5.  Supervision - Teach your dog "contented confinement" from day one. Introduce the kennel as the dog's most comfortable, safe den where good things - such as toys, treats and praise - always happen. Read more on kennel training...
click here

6.  Prevent bad behaviors - At about three months of age, begin to teach the dog to accept "close tethering." Keep the dog is on a leash attached to any solid object near you. The goal is for the dog to learn to simply relax, rest, and be in "park" mode. A person is always close by. Read more on close here

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