Selecting a Training Model

There are many ways to train a dog, ranging from rather primitive to fairly sophisticated. Even technology has had its impact on dog training. For tj t®

example, rather than fenced yards, people now have invisible fences, which contain dogs within their confines by means of an electrical shock.

The method, or combination of methods, you ultimately choose depends on which one works best for you and your dog. Our purpose in this chapter is to provide you with options so you can select one that suits your personality and needs, as well as those of your dog. To make the decision which approach is best for your dog, check out Chapter 5.

Before you embark on your training program, consider what you want your dog to master and compare it to the task for which he was bred. Many people typically select their dogs based on appearance and without regard to breed-specific functions and behaviors. The results are frequently all too predictable — the cute little puppy becomes a grown dog and now no longer fits into the scheme of things.

Although most dogs can be trained to obey basic obedience commands, breed-specific traits determine the ease or difficulty. For example, both the Newfoundland and the Parson Russell Terrier can learn a "Down-Stay" command, but we suspect you'll need a great deal more determination, patience, and time to teach this exercise to the Parson Russell Terrier than you will to the Newfoundland.

According to the 2003 statistics of the American Kennel Club (AKC), the Labrador Retriever was first in registrations, with almost three times the number of registrations as the second most popular breed, the Golden Retriever — 144,934 to 52,530. We're not questioning that the Labrador is a fine breed — we have two ourselves. Labs tend to be healthy, are good with children, are easy to train, have an average protectiveness trait, and require little grooming. What prospective buyers frequently don't consider, however, are the Lab's activity level and exercise requirements, both of which are high. Moreover, as the name implies, a Labrador Retriever is a retriever, which means he likes to retrieve, anything and everything that isn't nailed down and doesn't necessarily belong to him.

An excellent resource for breed-specific behavior and traits is The Roger Caras Dog Book: A Complete Guide to Every AKC Breed, by Roger Caras and Alton Anderson (M. Evans & Co.), now in its third edition. For instance, the book shows how the Labrador is one of 24 breeds in the Sporting Group. For each breed, the book lists a scale from 1 to 10 of three characteristics: the amount of coat care required, the amount of exercise required, and the suitability for urban/apartment life. Thirteen breeds in this group are considered unsuitable for urban/apartment live. The remaining eleven breeds, which include the Labrador, are considered suitable, but only if the dog's exercise requirements are being met. Another excellent source is Paws to Consider: Choosing the Right Dog for You and Your Family, by Brian Kilcommons and Sarah Wilson (Warner Books).

Looking back at a brief history of dogs

Dogs were originally bred for specific functions, such as guarding, herding, hauling, hunting, and so on. Before 1945, most dogs worked for a living, and many still do. The popularity as a household pet is a relatively recent phenomenon, fueled in part by the heroic exploits of the dogs used in World War II, as well as the fictional Rin Tin Tin and Lassie. The upshot of this popularity has been a demand for the "family" dog — easy to train, good with children, a little bit protective, and relatively quiet.

Puppy Training Basics

Puppy Training Basics

Getting a new puppy is a fun and interesting time. You probably went to a breeder or pet store or maybe just saw an ad on the Internet or the newspaper, for puppies, and decided just to check it out. Before you knew it those little eyes and fluffy puppy fur had your heart melting and you were headed home with him or her in your arms.

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