1. Picking the Right Dog-Make a list of everything you desire in a canine companion, such as:
Guard Dog, yes or no? Do you need a dog that will specifically guard the home, family, owner, property and/or livestock? Do you need a guard dog that can defend against certain animals such as wolves, coyote, mountain lion or bear? Do you need a guard/watch dog that can patrol and perform other guard related duties unsupervised or in extreme cold or heat? One that can defend against humans and large animals yet be good with children?
Watch Dog, yes or no? Do you need a dog that will specifically sound the alarm (rather than do something about an intruder) when guests or visitors arrive, if an intruder (human or animal) enters the property, if fire is sensed, if a gate or door is ajar, if things in the house are out of their normal place, if anything unusual is happening, and/or if an invalid or person on medication or children in need of supervision need assistance? Do you need a sentry dog that can sense a stranger before actually seeing the stranger?
Do you need a hunting dog which also makes a good pet? Or one that is a good hunter and a guard? Does your hunting dog need to be a water dog, or be able to withstand extremes in temperature and go long periods without water? One that can hunt/track hard (such as a search & rescue dog) for long stretches at a time? Does he need to be able to track a week old scent? Will he be staying inside? Does he need to check back with you during hunting/tracking from time to time, or is it okay for him to roam long distances and wait until you catch up? Do you need a dog that can go into a den to flush the prey? Maybe you need a dog that can track and kill problem coyotes or wolves?
What about your income, as far as being able to buy the food, as well as pay for occasional shots and worming medication? Obviously bigger dogs eat more, but there are other considerations involving money as well. Some dogs need more frequent checkups at the vet. Dogs such as the English Bulldog have secretions that need to be seen to daily.
Does your dog need to be a rat and other varmint catcher, maybe be ideal for boats? Does he need to get along well with cats and other dogs? Should he be a canine which trains easily, or can you handle dogs which require more effort to train? Are there a lot of people in and out of your place, such as frequent family gatherings or other types of parties? Are there a lot of children over who like to roughhouse or play games which require a lot of running around? What about furniture and knick knacks, antiques, breakable items? Some dogs are a bit more like a bull in a China shop than others, and long tails often knock things over. Do you need a dog which is more amiable and thoughtful with the elderly?
Before obtaining a dog, these kinds of questions need to be answered, so that you can make a wise decision regarding what breed of dog will best suit your purpose and situation. Even some big dogs do well in an apartment, as long as they get enough exercise, which is 30 minutes to an hour each day, more with some dogs. Some smaller dogs are much more aggressive and intolerant of children and strangers than some of the bigger breeds.
If you know what you need in a dog before obtaining one, and make the choice accordingly, both you and the dog will be much happier in the long run. To help make this choice, I have a page named Service Dogs, which can help you choose the right dog for you. On that page is a description of over 60 breeds of dogs which have the guard and/or watch capability, along with many other attributes, such as being good with children, tolerant of cats/other dogs, hunters, trackers, house dogs, boat dogs, farm/ranch dogs and other classifications. Click HERE to view. At the upper right of this column is also a link to Dogs 101, a part of Animal Planet. There is a 4 minute video of each breed of dog, explaining their general characteristics, which can be a great help in choosing the right breed of dog for you and/or your family. Explore that part of the site, as there are also selector charts, to more specifically find the right breed for you, instead of having to view the characteristics of each breed.
2. Timing-If possible, go pick the dog/puppy up on the last day of your work week after work, or during the morning if you don't work or have the day off. That way, you will have all weekend to become familiar with the dog and help the dog to overcome the anxiety of being separated from the mother and the rest of the litter and it's familiar surroundings. It is also possible to have the puppy/dog housebroken by the end of the weekend. But giving the dog time to adjust to his new surroundings and overcome the separation anxiety is very important.
3. Housebreaking-One of the most important tasks which promote a harmonious relationship between a dog and the master and/or family. Besides the obvious issue of cleanliness, one thing which can sour a day quickly, is, for example, getting up late for work and stepping in a mess the un-house broke dog made, which causes you to be running even later, by the time you get the mess cleaned up. You're more likely to over correct, and overall, that causes everyone to be in a bad mood. Below is a sure method for housebreaking a puppy, a young dog or even an older dog. I have proven this method with even the most stubborn dogs.
For starters, try to eliminate the problem. A dog generally needs to relieve the bladder/bowels right after waking up from sleep and right after eating/drinking. For dogs that stay inside, set aside a spot outside which is an acceptable place to go. Right after waking up or eating/drinking, take the dog outside to the area and encourage to the dog to be relaxed, which facilitates relieving itself. Pick some words to use which tell the dog that it's okay to go. I use the words "c'mon 'n go". Sometimes it takes a while for the dog to do the job at first. When this occurs, and the dog doesn't seem ready, take the dog back inside and keep an eye on him. As soon as he starts sniffing around, especially away from his sleeping place, take him back outside and do the same thing. Sometimes, the dog will go as soon as he gets back inside. That actually makes the task easier for you, because then you have an explicit way of teaching the dog right from wrong. When that happens, here is what to do: take the dog over to the mess and put his nose down to the mess, but not in it. Make sure he smells it, and then use the word NO, in a cross tone of voice. You can also poke him around the scruff of the neck, even shake him by the scruff or the collar. Don't shake hard enough to rattle his brain or such, but just enough to give him the message. Always use the word NO in a cross tone. Then, take the mess outside to the acceptable spot and put it there. Take the dog outside to it, and put his nose down to it, but not in it. Once he smells it, praise and pet the dog like he just did a great thing. Keep in mind that dogs have an extreme sixth sense, so do your best to no longer be tensed up or angry inside. It will not take long for the dog to get the idea. An older dog will not always need to go right after eating/drinking or waking up, but is the case more often than not. Watch a new dog to see the pattern. With a puppy, they almost always need to go right after waking up and eating/drinking. An older dog will drink water several or many times during a day and can withhold, once house broken. Once the pattern is established, you can usually just about set your clock by the dog.
Keep in mind a few things: a dog will not relieve itself where it sleeps unless he is sick or in a crate and just can't hold any longer; using a crate can help with housebreaking for that reason. Also keep this in mind if you work overtime sometimes and go home to find a mess on the floor; if you feed a dog at the same time(s) every day, it is easier to housebreak. I usually do until they are fully housebroken, then I veer from a regular schedule. Most trainers recommend always feeding at the same time every day for the dog's entire life. I disagree, however, because number one, many of us have varying schedules and can't always do so. Another reason is that I train for watch/guard/patrol duty and for tracking. If the dog is used to eating at a regular time and you need to go out on a call, say with a search/rescue dog for example, and the dog is conditioned to eat at the same time every day, he may not perform well if out working during his normal mealtime. A dog fed at the same time every day will start to water at the mouth once near feeding time. I feed my dogs and usually leave the bowls there until next feeding time. Therefore, my dogs' mouths start to water when I go around to pick the bowls up and take them inside to wash them. If I had picked them up after the last feeding time and already cleaned them, they start to water when they hear bowls clanging together; when changing to a different brand or type of food, it disrupts the normal digestive cycle and even a housebroken dog is apt to make a mistake occasionally, especially if the food change is done abruptly, rather than over a period of several days to a week. Keep in mind also that a dog is not mature until around two years of age, including his internal organs as well as his mind. According to scientists, a mature dog's mental capacity is equal to a 5 or 6 year old child. So before that, it can vary.
4. Come When called-This is one of the most important tasks you can train a dog for, if you don't train him to do anything else. it can keep a dog from wandering, getting hit by a car, being stolen or being involved in an unnecessary confrontation with a person or another animal.
The goal of Come When Called is to give the command ONE time, and the dog comes to you. Here is how we accomplish that: Firstly, don't expect a puppy to grasp the idea of come when called very quickly. Many people will call their puppy to them and think the puppy is obeying when, in reality, the puppy (or older dog) is simply going to you because it desires interaction with human beings. Then later, when the animal won't go to them, the owner is frustrated and thinks the dog is dumb. I would dare say, that a good number of dogs are smart enough to get out of obeying the owner. Note I said owner, there being a difference between being an owner and a master. You must work to attain to the status of master.
If the dog is tied to a chain or cable, that will work. Otherwise, hook a long leash (preferably 6 feet or more, or a light rope) to the dog as he runs around inside or in the yard. State the dog's name, making sure that you have the dog's attention before giving the command. Once you do, call the dog to you, with a one or two syllable word. If he does come to you, remember that it is a fluke, because he is not yet trained. But anyway, praise and pet the dog like he just saved your life, then let him go wander some more, keeping him hooked up. If (and when) the dog doesn't come to you immediately, grab the tie off or leash and pull the dog to you until he arrives at your feet, and praise and pet him much, maybe do a bit of playful antics, then let him go play. Do this at regular intervals, but not more than 2 or 3 times in a row.
Often a dog will lay down or fight being pulled to you. Just keep pulling him in, even if you have to drag him. Dragging him across the carpet or grass will not hurt him at all. After a few times he will get the idea and decide to walk to you, even if you still have to pull on the line. Make sure you don't dislocate the neck or injure the dog, though. It's best to wait to start training this until the dog is 3-4 months old. I do not use food rewards for any training except tracking training. It is a bad habit. A properly trained dog will obey you because he respects your authority and wants to please you. If you use food as a reward, it is like bribing a dog and he will expect it every time. My dogs get fed whether they've misbehaved or not, period. I do not need to bribe them to obey me. Keep this up until the dog comes to you freely and consistently, every time. Once you've reached the point to where you think it's time to train this off leash, continue training on leash for at least one more week to a few more weeks with distraction training. Do everything the same, but call the dog when he is playing with another dog, eating, chewing on a bone or toy or being petted by a human or otherwise interacting with a human. They must obey under all circumstances.
When first starting this, once the dog begins to come to you freely but before he's real consistent, whenever he balks or hesitates, give a firm, grouchy NO, and pull him right to you, then praise and pet him. This will greatly help later, once you start training off line.
Once you have him coming to you freely on line during distractions, unhook him and once he gets a few feet from you, state his name and call him to you. If he balks, give the grouchy NO, then call him again. He should come right to you. If not, put a 4 foot line on him so you can grab the end of it and pull him in if need be. This method is a sure way to attain to perfection in this task.
Note that once a dog gets to the more rowdy stages, you may need to reinforce this with a line on him. After a certain amount of training, hook a line to him and let the other end drag. Dogs are smart, and sometimes they will come to you perfectly until you let them off line, and then they will run and try to get you to chase them. They love to chase and be chased. The training instills discipline in your dog and gets his respect. When not training, give the dog attention in the form of petting and being playful. Then later, if the dog wants you to chase him, walk towards him, and as soon as he darts away, turn around and walk the other way. he will likely follow you. NEVER, EVER call a dog to you to scold or discipline, because it can cause the dog to not come to you when you call.
5. Aggression-One aspect of aggression worth mentioning is when/if the family dog becomes aggressive to either family members or other people, for what to the human is uncalled for. Every breed has certain characteristics, and especially prevalent amongst guard type breeds is the protective instinct. Dogs are known to prevent parents from disciplining their own children, so these guys need to be put outside or in another room when that becomes necessary. Dogs are also known to become aggressive when, for example, the kids and their friends are roughhousing, wrestling, playfighting, etc. When that occurs the dog gets blamed and if a serious incident happens, the dog is often put down or sent to another home. You cannot blame the dog for doing what it has been bred to do. The problem is ignorance on the part of humans. It pays, and is a necessity, to find out all you can about your breed of dog. Dogs are highly adaptible to living around humans, but only to a degree, or to say, when kept within the proper perspective of what the animal's traits are.
Dogs have a very acute sixth sense, some more than others. You may come home after having had a bad day at work, and wonder why the dog growls at you or goes and hides under the furniture. It is because he senses that you are in a bad mood. It is not the dog at fault, but your present temperament.
5. WARMTH-Be sure that your dog is warm enough in the winter. Even a Husky can get cold outside, although I've seen them sprawled out in the snow at 15 above zero. Nonetheless, most dogs are nowhere near as cold tolerant as a Husky. I use a good layer of straw, with cedar chips between the straw and the floor of the dog house. I feed more food in the winter than in the other seasons, and when it's really cold I will give them a cup extra than what I normally feed in the winter. If possible, the dog house door should generally face south, which is where the mildest weather comes out of, though it may depend on currents caused by obstructions/open spaces in your immediate vicinity. When I build a dog house, I make it so that once entering, the dog has to go around a partition, turning to the left or the right in order to get to the main area. A flap is also a good idea, unless the dog doesn't like it and tears it off, like mine do. But the partition keeps the weather from having a straight shot into the house and onto the dog.
Here is a link to a nice site which shows 10 ways to help keep a dog warm:
Todd A. Slee
9750 S 450 W
South Whitley, IN 46787
OTHER LINKS, TIPS & SUGGESTIONS
TRAINING & CARE ESSENTIALS
This is a list and explanations for certain essentials which will help lay a proper foundation not only for training your canine, but will help promote a harmonious relationship between the owner, family and canine.
Copyright 2013. Slee Canine Training & Security. All rights reserved.
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1. 28 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT DOGS BY 'THE DOG GUIDE': http://www.dogguide.net/28-fun-dog-facts.php.
2. DOG BREED SELECTOR by ANIMAL PLANET: http://animal.discovery.com/breed-selector/dog-breeds.html
3. HERE IS A NICE SITE, WITH 10 WAYS TO KEEP YOUR DOG WARM IN THE WINTER. I CURRENTLY USE CEDAR CHIPS ON THE FLOOR WITH A GOOD LAYER OF STRAW, BUT AM LOOKING AT WAYS TO AVOID THE STRAW BEING ALL OVER THE PLACE WHEN THE DOG'S CHAIN DRAGS SOME OUTSIDE.
Come When Called training video by Slee Dog Training