As dogs become cherished family members and your family’s best friend, it is very important to invest in their proper dog training and socialization. This will help you avoid any friction within your own home, as well as with those in your community. This is particularly significant for residents in condominium and cooperative buildings in large cities like New York City, where noise from your dog, as well as news of their behavior, can travel fast.
The good news is, the only difference between a good dog and a not-so-good dog is the amount of training your pet receives. In New York City, any property management company will tell you that the some of the most common resident complaints concern pets and their behaviors. As a devoted dog owner, it’s up to you to earn a good reputation for yourself and for your dog.
Here are some effective dog training tips to help make you and your dog a good community citizen and minimize complaints from neighbors.
Build from the basics.
Few dogs are “born” great. An exceptional pet is groomed from a young age, and investing time in teaching your dog basics such as “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, separation anxiety, aggression or destructive behavior.
In order to groom your dog to have an even-keeled and good-natured personality amidst changing environments, begin by socializing him/her at a very young age. Consistent interaction with other animals, other people, and in various environments like pet stores, veterinarians’ offices, dog parks and homes of friends and relatives can help you train your pet to have a versatile personality with a high tolerance to changing scenery. This will help your pet avoid divergent, destructive and aggressive behavior and it benefits all parties – you, your pet, and your neighbors.
Consistency and consideration.
Make sure everyone in your household, and even in your community, follows the same set of rules when it comes to training. If other individuals, whether adults or children, communicate conflicting commands, it will cause confusion and regression. Remember that it is very important to create a calm, quiet environment for your dog when teaching commands. Additionally, the display of calm behavior should always be rewarded and positively reinforced. Don’t let your dog become over-excited – this could lead to crazed behavior or even future anxiety. Most importantly, never use physical punishment. This could also instill a sense of aggression and violence in your pet.
Aim to reduce (or eliminate) separation anxiety.
If your pet gets upset when you leave and responds with a slew of undesirable behaviors, practice very calm greetings and farewells when you’re entering and exiting your home. Conduct “exit rehearsals” in order to get your dog used to being apart from you. Try varying your routine to reduce certain “triggers” of separation anxiety. For example, if you have a very rigid routine of putting your shoes on or grabbing your coat at the same time each day, it may cause your dog to overreact in anticipation as they’re aware you’re leaving.
In fact, you may want to go through the motions of “leaving” by putting on a jacket, grabbing your keys and then just sitting with your dog. Also consider leaving the radio or TV on when you’re absent, or even articles of clothing with your perfume or cologne to soothe them. This will lead to a substantial reduction in any abhorrent and attention-seeking behavior such as incessant barking, relieving themselves in the home, chewing furniture and other possessions, as well as other destructive patterns.
Don’t fuel their fear.
Different dogs can fear different noises like fireworks, thunder, sirens or vacuum cleaners. You can help manage these fears in the moment with a soothing touch, treats, or a distracting game.
You can also plan ahead for potentially stress-inducing events or occasions (like the 4th of July) by spending the day exercising and playing with your dog so he or she is calm and relaxed before the fireworks begin. Provide them with a safe haven in the home with some favorite toys.
And if you’d like to try some counter-conditioning, you can actually expose your dog to the fear-inducing noise by recording it and playing it at a very low volume while you provide food or play a favorite game. Repeat this process in short sessions, gradually raising the volume of your recording each time. Whatever you do, though, don’t try to force your dog to interact with something that’s causing fear – it’ll just make things worse!
Prevent jumping and other physically alarming behavior.
A dog that jumps up on you is after one thing: your attention. The last thing you want to do is reward this behavior by giving your dog exactly what he/she is seeking. A scolding or stern words are considered “attention” to a dog. To your dog, bad attention is better than none at all.
When jumping occurs, ignore it completely. You can cross your arms and turn your back to communicate your disapproval and non-acknowledgement of this behavior. When your dog finally has “four-on-the-floor,” calmly praise his/her more serene behavior. This type of training will be crucial in avoiding a situation where your dog jumps or lunges at other building residents (especially small children) and animals. Altogether, this will help in avoiding other such alarming physical behaviors.
Bust the barking.
Incessant barking is a nuisance for everyone, and your neighbors are the ones who suffer. In addition to earning a bad reputation for yourself and your dog, you may be directly violating a community house rule, such as every residents’ right to a peaceful home environment. Do the right thing and be a good neighbor by aiming to eliminate this behavior.
You can start by eliminating distractions your dog might see outside. For example, draw the curtains or close your blinds. Leave plenty of toys around to keep your dog busy. And when you’re outside, supervise your pet – be sure not to reward barking with any kind of attention, not even scolding, as mentioned above. Instead, wait for a quiet moment and reward their amicable behavior with treats or love and affection. Regular exercise and play may help reduce unwanted barking. Leaving articles of clothing or other possessions with your dog during your absence could also help eliminate barking due to loneliness and confinement. If you have a breed that is a barker by nature, or possesses a personality that is not easily trained, a doggie daycare is also an option.
Employ a professional.
Recognize the fact that many common nuisance behaviors are easily corrected with the right training and techniques. Many shelters and rescue groups provide training tips or even access to animal behavioral experts. Be sure to tap into local resources in your neighborhood (by searching the internet or speaking to other dog owners for referrals) for help when you need it.
Remember, no change in behavior will happen overnight. Dog training takes time and patience, but it allows you to spend quality time with your best friend – and your neighbors will thank you for your commitment to creating a healthy environment for your dog, and a happy community for all. For more tips on how to keep your pet community-friendly, contact FirstService Residential
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