Ah, man’s best friend. Dogs become cherished family members and add so much to our lives. But sometimes, our best friends can exhibit less-than-friendly behavior. This can not only cause friction in your home, but also in your community. The good news is, however, that often the only difference between a good dog and a not-so-good dog is training.
“Giving your dog the tools to cope with today’s busy lifestyle by providing some basic training can make you and your dog ambassadors of cooperation, understanding and good will to everyone you meet,” says Stephanie Rodgers, Manager of Behavior and Training Services at the Humane Society of Broward County in Florida. “Spending the extra time to work on training with your dog strengthens your bond, and it also makes him a more enjoyable pet – for both you and your neighbors.”
Any good property management company will tell you that many of the most common community complaints concern pets. So here’s a look at some effective ways to help make your dog a good community citizen and minimize issues with your neighbors.
Few dogs are “born” great. An exceptional pet is made, and taking your dog to a class that teaches basic sit/down/stay commands is a great way to start. As a bonus, spending this time together can strengthen your bond and make additional training easier later on. This can also help alleviate potential problems, like excessive barking or separation anxiety.
Make sure everyone in your household is following the same rules of training. If other adults or children – and that includes neighbors in your community – give your dog conflicting commands, it will only cause confusion. Always create a calm, quiet environment for your dog when training (in fact, calm behavior should always be rewarded). Don’t get your dog over-excited, and never use physical punishment.
If your pet gets upset when you leave, practice very calm greetings and farewells when you’re coming and going. Practice leaving the home to get your dog used to being apart from you. And when you go, vary your routine – this will reduce the “triggers” of separation anxiety. In fact, you may want to go through the motions of leaving (putting on a jacket, grabbing your keys) and then just sitting with your dog. When you go, consider leaving the radio or TV on (just play something calm at a lower volume). Toys help, too.