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REWARDING GOOD BEHAVIOUR
In the litigious society in which we find ourselves living today, legal actions seem to be commonplace. You can be sued for millions if a cup of coffee, which common sense would tell you is very hot, does not contain a warning label to that effect prior to someone dumping it onto their lap and getting burns.
Parents are brought into court because their child kissed another child at school and someone called this sexual harassment. A would-be thief sued and won in a case where he broke his arm by tipping over a soda vending machine in an attempt to steal from it.
All of these suits and more happen on what seems a daily basis and you just brought your own little lawsuit factory to live with you, in the form of an adorable little puppy.
It is true that this innocent looking little ball of fur can turn into a nasty, snarling, lawsuit building monster within moments. All it takes is one act of territorial aggression or even self-defense and your pet has just cost you thousands of dollars and, possibly, the animal itself.
So how will train abet this poor outcome?
By teaching your pet, not to jump, nip, bite, threaten or behave as an aggressor, you save yourself possible legal actions and a lot of sleepless nights. After all, who really wants to own the dog that just mauled the neighbors’ two-year-old child for pulling its tail or killed the prize-winning cat of the lady next door?
So how do we stop the bad behavior?
Well, for starters, every dog should learn the “NO” command.
This simple one word command is precise and definite in its meaning. It tells the animal to stop whatever it is doing and instead give you full and complete attention. This command should be trained consistently and often.
If the animal is trying to chase a cat, loudly and clearly say “NO” and restrain the animal. If the dog is jumping up, again utter “NO” and perhaps a light swat to the nose as reinforcement of the command.
This simple command will stop most behaviors once it is learned.
A similar command is “Leave It” and is taught in much the same way. For training in this command, let the dog approach the forbidden object of its attention and then pull the leash taut and pronounce, “Leave it”. After a few moments, the dog will give up and return to you after which it should be rewarded generously. By doing this, the dog learns that no matter what temptation is presented; your reward for leaving it will be much greater.
A third lawsuit preventing command is “Down” and is one that many dog owners have a lot of trouble with. A dog’s natural instinct is to jump up and greet someone. While this is cute in the puppy stage a one hundred pound adult dog can knock you to the ground and, for a stranger, be quite a frightening experience.
Your dog can be taught to stay down by starting when they are pups to curb the jumping behavior by ignoring them when they jump and rewarding them when they sit calmly. To break the habit in older dogs, you may have to resort to more strenuous enforcements such as a squirt of water when they jump up or even an electrical collar.
Also, as pups, they should be familiarized with people who will enter the yard on a daily basis such as the mail carrier or package delivery personnel. They should learn that these individuals are not threats by taking the time to introduce them to your pet and perhaps even asking them to offer the pet some kind of treat.
The animal should, at all times, be taught that nipping or biting is unwanted behavior and will result in a punishment of some form, for example, a sprits of cold water followed by the “NO” command or a light but convincing swat on the nose.
In worst-case scenarios, a muzzle may be in order.
With these simple suggestions, you are certain to have a safer environment for your pet and those around you as well as lowered risks of legal actions being brought against you.
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