Training your dog with kindness is not just obviously nicer, but more effective too. Dogs don’t like by being told off, as it breaks the bond of trust. Dogs love to learn, so do it right, and turn it into a game. Training dogs is important, as it can stop them getting into fights, prevents unnecessary barking (often caused by boredom) and also trains recall – important near roads, swans, cats etc.
Be wary of celebrity dog trainers on TV. Although undoubtedly they love dogs and know what they are doing, some dog training experts say that the methods used may work for them, but won’t work for everyday dog guardians with little experience. Go for books and classes by people with years of experience, over ones that make for ‘good TV’ and may do more harm than good. Also see how to find good dog walks (with tips on following the Countryside Code, to keep dogs and livestock safe).
Read this book to keep your dog safe. It covers safe/unsafe plants, toxic foods, collar safety and things to avoid during training & play (rawhide chews, pig’s ears, socks are all choking hazards, as are balls the wrong size and antlers, which can break teeth).
Understand a poorly socialised but friendly dog can easily start a fight he’s not looking for. If I ran up to every stranger I met and tried to hug them, sooner or later someone would punch me in the face. Your dog is not being a problem, your dog is having a problem. Chad Mackin
Don’t make your ‘out’ command, a signal for war. Michael Ellis
How to Understand Your Dog
Dogs are complicated and intelligent creatures. Especially if you rescue a dog, you are likely going to run into issues, if dogs have been mistreated or on a third or fourth home. The more we notice and listen to what our dogs are trying to tell us, the more we can improve our relationship with our best friends.
- Read What’s My Dog Thinking?. This is a beautifully illustrated book by an experienced dog trainer, who is passionate about animal welfare. Hannah Molloy set up the non-profit dog training company Pawfect Dog Sense (which offers park and online sessions, she hopes to take free dog training in public parks nationwide).
- Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy is an engaging book for anyone who is curious about dog happiness and behaviour. Trainer and psychologist Zazie demystifies the inner life of canine friends, sharing a checklist for a happy dog, enrichment exercises, how to socialise and train a puppy, how to reduce fear & anxiety in dogs, and tips for the vet.
- Canine Confidential is by an expert on animal emotions. Marc Bekoff does this for a living, and one reviewer says he is ‘incapable of writing a boring paragraph’. He uses his vast knowledge of animal emotions to argue for better welfare for all species.
How to Positively Train Your Dog
- Easy Peasy Puppy Squeazy & Easy Peasy Doggy Squeezy are by the founder of Institute of Modern Dog Trainers. These are books by a highly experienced dog trainer, and offer tips on basic dog training, and also how to solve common issues.
- Train You Dog Online is an affordable 8-week course, if you can’t find a local in-person class. Author Sarah Whitehead again is highly experienced, who covers all the basics of good training.
- The Book Your Dog Wishes You Would Read is a book to learn what your dog is thinking, by top behaviourist and trainer Louise Glazebrook. Your dog is communicating with you all the time, but unless you know the signs, you won’t be picking up what he or she wants you to know. In this book, Louise tackles everything, focusing on you (rather than the dog) to give you the skills and confidence to interpret your dog’s needs and behaviour, to build a better, happier relationship for life. Learn how to adopt a suitable dog, understand body language, understand breed behaviour, respond to common behavioural issues and know toys/games your dog will love.
How to Talk To Your Dog!
Talk To Your Dog is a book on how to communicate with your furry friend. Why do dogs behave the way they do, and what makes one breed so different to another? Build a stronger relationship with your canine companion and find out where, when and why they want to be stroked, and how to give them a soothing reiki massage. Heartwarming and enlightening true stories reveal how dogs use their unique powers to warn us of danger and play a role in healing. And uncover what dogs would do, if left to their own devices.
How to Stop a Dog Fight
The Spruce Pets has tips on how to break up a dog fight. Forcing them apart usually won’t help. The author has many gentler tips including using water sprays, loud noises and using the ‘wheelbarrow technique’ which involves two people wheeling each of the dogs’ legs away from each other, in a circle. The dogs can then calm down separately. See the vet, in case of any injuries.
When You Need Extra Help
Some dogs are very emotionally damaged due to previous abuse, or may simply have mystifying problems (sometimes it’s caused by physical pain, so check this out with your vet). If no answers, then contact Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors. This is an organisation of highly trained dog psychologists, who visit you in your own home to discuss the problems, then usually have a follow-up and a couple of phone calls.
Most consultations must be through your vet (so often these are covered on pet insurance). In some cases, this has led to a ‘miracle turnaround’. As the answer is often not to ‘train the dog’, but find what the issue is that is causing the behaviour. Once that’s remedied, often it’s plain sailing. The site has lots of free tips (for all species).
How to Keep Children Safe Near Dogs
Children & dogs get along just fine most of the time. But of course there are issues with uneducated children pulling tails, and a few tragic cases of dogs attacking children. Nearly all of these cases involve dogs who are left chained outside, unable to learn to socialise. Here are some helpers, from learning how to teach children how to respect a dog’s boundaries, to how to prevent dog bites and tragic dog attacks.
The Blue Dog offers information packs for parents and professionals, developed by a team of vets, dog behaviourists, paediatricians, child psychologists, teachers, artists and accidental prevention professionals. Half of all dog bites go unreported and their research indicates that in most cases, it is a known dog where the child misinterprets snarling for smiling. There is no evidence that particular breeds (ie. staffies or pit bulls) are more likely to bite, than others.
Children & dogs get along just fine, most of the time. But there are issues with uneducated children pulling tails, and a few tragic cases of dogs attacking children. Often it’s when dogs are not socialised (left outside in yards), so react badly if a child approaches them. Teach children how to respect a dog’s boundaries (most do not like being hugged) to help prevent bites and attacks. Blue Cross and Dog Gone Safe have good tips.
Any dog could attack, as they are still wild animals. But no one breed is more likely to attack (a myth – staffies used to be family dogs in Victorian times as they were so good with children – deaths are simply more likely to occur due to stronger jaws). If you (or your child) don’t like dogs, teach them not to scream at the top of their lungs if they see a dog in the park, and avoid dog-friendly beaches. Screaming is more likely to freak nervous dogs out, and bring a higher chance of attack. If you’re not ‘dog-people’, just calmly move away, and go find a dog-free area to play.
The Blue Dog offers info packs developed by vets, behaviourists, paediatricians, child psychologists, teachers, artists and accidental prevention professionals. Half of all dog bites go unreported, but their research shows that in most cases, it is a known dog where the child mistakes snarling for smiling.
- Most dogs do not like kisses and cuddles. Some find it annoying, others threatening.
- Let your dog have a ‘safe den’, to retreat if children are crying or having tantrums.
- Teach your child to never wake a sleeping dog, or take a food bowl away. Feed pets away from children.
- Teach your child not to approach strange animals. Let them come to you in the park (crouch down at a diagonal angle, dogs don’t like to be stared at head-on).
- If you are pregnant, play baby sounds, to get dogs used to it before the birth. Also let them smell blankets and baby clothing, to gently introduce them to the new arrival.
- No matter how docile, never leave dogs and children alone (even for a second).
- Don’t chain dogs up in yards without company. If you have nowhere else, then contact your local animal shelter to find a good loving home. Dogs crave company and walks. Not socialising dogs is by far the main cause of attacks on humans (and other dogs).
- Cat often like the warmth of a cot. So use baby gates to ensure they can’t sleep on babies. Don’t let any animal sleep next to babies, to avoid risk of suffocation or startling the animal if a child wakes.
- Wash hands after touching pets (reptiles especially may carry salmonella). Don’t let babies touch poo from any creature that lives with you.
What Dogs Want is a lovely illustrated guide for happy dog care and training. Written by a recognised expert on dog behaviour, his tips come with original illustrations to explain all you need to know. With this book, you’ll learn how your dog’s brain really works and discover amazing ways to train them, which they will enjoy. Learn:
- How to avoid ‘separation anxiety’
- Why dogs wag their tails
- Play new games
- Develop communication skills
- Relax and have fun together!
- Dog body language
- How dogs see, smell and think
- What’s going on in your dog’s head (spoiler alert: usually play, sleep or food!)
Enlightened Dog Training is a book on dog training by a meditation teacher, by looking into your dog’s emotions. Dog trainer Jesse Sternberg reveals dog language and combines mindfulness with animal psychology and training exercises and meditation practices to build a calm and peaceful mindset to sooth anxiety and overcome aggression issues. Communicate non-verbally, using the signals that dogs use with each other to communicate through respect and love.
The Perfectly Imperfect Puppy is a book by dog trainer Graeme Hall, who has yet to come across a pup who behaves perfectly at all times. In this guide, you’ll learn how to rescue the best puppy fory our lifestyle, how to introduce them to the family, other pets and children and how to build understanding and trust and tackle separation anxiety. You’ll also learn how to socialise a puppy into a happy well-adjusted dog and prevent behaviour problems, later in life.
Dog Speak: What Your Dog Is Trying to Tell You is a beautifully illustrated little book of canine communication, explaining how dogs talk to us – from tilting their head, chasing their tail or sitting on your feet. Dogs can deepen bonds and mostly we rely on words to express how we feel, but they do through facial expressions and body language. Know the tail wag, hard stare or when they are destroying our favourite pair of shoes!