Friday, March 19, 2010
Train for Everything
Train for Everything...
Training is an interesting sort of thing for dogs. They don't learn the way we do. They learn behaviors in particular settings. Then when the settings change it may seem as though they didn't learn the behaviors at all or that they forgot, they're suddenly stupid etc. For example when you teach your dog a down-stay only in the living room he's less likely to do it elsewhere until you teach him to do it in other places.
I think this is also true for temperament conditioning. It's great that a dog loves his people at home but it's best if he's good with everyone, not just his own folks. There's nothing better than being able to take a dog out as a pup then as an adult to places where there are lots of people, kids etc and your dog enjoys it as much as you do. So much of this has to do with your dog's happiness and how you can provide that for him.
To help with temperament I think everyone knows to socialize your pup early, often and continue this thoughout his life. I've written many blogs on the subject. However, I think it does need to be said again and again as the problem with dogs in the shelters is lack of training, socialization and of course the crucial "teenage" age that they're at.
We work with adult dogs a lot. Folks come to us when they've been there, done that with their dog. Or they've just adopted one of the above type dogs from the shelter. We try to add things into our classes that are real life like. Even dogs that are great in most settings can be a bit touchy about seeing a small boy go by on a skate board while saying "weeeeeeee!" for instance. But hey, this is part of life. So what do we do? We desensitize the dogs to this by exposing them in little increments and reward them for calm, happy behavior. Before you know it, most dogs are getting that all is ok with skateboarding youngsters.
Here's a picture of our favorite boy Darian, super, fabulous skate boarder, helmut and all! Some dogs were a bit concerned at first when he whizzed by and after a short period of time they were focused back on their people, happy, calm and not a care in the world.
Sometimes we provide "the Odd Man" or we have a firefighter etc.
It's best to our dogs so they know the world is safe. Pit Bulls generally have such stable temperaments and good optimism. However, no one can stay happy and well adjusted when they haven't been socialized to their environment, and that goes for anyone of any breed or species. Unfortunately Pit Bulls have been blamed for behavior when was a people problem in that they didn't make sure their dog was well socialized to attain the confidence needed to live a happy, well adjusted life. I know you guys know this but I just thought I'd reiterate this life saving point. Dogs are more likely to be put down due to these problems in shelter than diseases.