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Help your pooch mind his manners in public

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Article by Aurora James

Have you ever met a dog that was so cute and cuddly-looking from afar, but then when you got up close he was crazy? He jumped all over you, nearly knocked you down and stole your ice cream cone? Or he pooped on the sidewalk and his owners didn’t clean up after him? While the dog was still cute and cuddly, he had no manners, and he likely learned that from his person.

Dogs don’t usually come to you fully trained and well-behaved. Part of being a good dog-owner is being a conscientious dog manager. Teaching your dog manners is part of your job, and it’s a must if you want to have a happy, well-behaved dog. It will also help ensure that your neighbors like you and your dog a lot better.

Where do I begin?

First, you want to start with some basic training. Make sure your dog understands commands, such as “No,” “Sit,” “Down” and “Off.” The best way to do this is to begin with clicker or marker training. Clicker training is when you click a clicker when your dog does something correctly. Then give him a treat. You can do the same thing with a marker word, such as “Yes,” or “Good,” which is often preferred because you won’t always have a clicker with you. First, teach your dog that your marker word means a treat is coming. Say, “Yes,” then treat. Do this until your dog understands it. It won’t take long because your dog really, really wants that treat!

Then when your dog does something you like, say, “Yes!” Then treat. Even if he does it accidentally, that’s OK. Just say the word immediately after he does what you want. Add a command to the action, and he’ll learn that move. The great thing about marker training is that you can use it on almost any animal and your can use it to teach your pet almost any trick.

Public manners

Now that you’ve taught your dog how to understand what you want, basic manners in public should be easier and you can start the lessons at home. Work on teaching your dog to heel properly, so he can walk nicely on a leash. While you’re out walking, keep good control of your dog. Don’t allow him to jump on people or other dogs, and always ask before you allow your dog to greet another pooch. Some dogs just aren’t friendly to other dogs, and their owners will want you to stay clear.

While you’re at it, get in the habit of carrying poop bags with you on your walks. If you don’t have pockets, tie the bags to your leash. Leaving poop on the ground is not only icky and unsightly, it’s rude to your neighbors and bad for the environment. Your dog’s good manners start with you.

Home manners

Do you have a barker? All dogs bark to some degree, but excessive barking is just plain annoying. Believe it or not, you can easily teach your dog to stop barking. If you’ve already established a training system, stopping excessive barking is not difficult at all. When he’s barking, wait for him to stop barking, say “Yes!,” and treat. Add the word “hush” or “quiet,” and he’ll get the message. Your dog is supposed to warn you when danger arises, so don’t expect him to stop barking altogether. But one or two barks should be enough.

Behaving at the door is another important skill for a pooch to learn. Hopefully, you’ve already taught him to not jump on people. But a dog who is excited to see a new person will have a hard time controlling himself. Have a friend over to help you teach door manners, so he can get used to friends visiting. This skill can also save his life -- many untrained dogs dash out the front door and run into the street with disastrous consequences.

Teaching your dog some basic manners is not difficult, but it does take time, patience and extra treats. The key to dog training is to be consistent. Teach everyone in the house which words to use and not to break the training rules. The extra time you spend with your dog is an added bonus of this training, and your dog will appreciate being able to communicate with you. Give him a few extra belly rubs for his good behavior.

About the author: Aurora believes there are no bad dogs. She created to share her dog training tips and advice to dog owners everywhere.