When I say training, I don’t necessarily mean for the dogs.
When Mr Tin Box and I first discussed bringing a dog into our lives, we had a lot of very grown up conversations. Could we give a dog enough attention? Would we miss the freedom of last minute holidays? Did we have a big enough garden? Would a dog fit into our bigger family plans?
While we agonised over all these questions, we knew we wanted to do it and adapted our lives to fit.
We found a Kennel Club breeder whose Labrador Retriever had just given birth to a litter of adorable bundles of fur. They were all gorgeous but we selected the cheekiest pooch among them to call our own. Eight week’s later Tin Box Dog came home with us.
I won’t go into all the kit that we bought to make her comfortable/contain her. Some of it was useful, some of it was not. Anyway, the most valuable investment we made in our first year with TBD was training.
We had no idea what a difference it would make. It just seemed like the responsible thing to do. Three years later I would like to give our younger and more attractive looking selves a high five.
All those early Saturday morning puppy socialisation classes and evenings spent sitting, waiting and learning to play were worth their poo bags in gold.
Not only did TBD get to know her place in the pack, we got to know her. We learned that a lot of the problems people have with their four-legged friends are man-made.
Dog owners often treat their pets like humans – this is a big mistake. For instance, patting or cuddling a barking dog, in the same way that you might comfort a child, only rewards and reinforces that behaviour. This is something that we hadn’t considered before.
Dogs are dogs, and are much happier if they are treated as such.
We worked with a trainer who used clicker training. It made great sense to us and we would definitely do it again.
TBD now knows her place in the pack and she’s definitely not the boss. Mr Tin Box wears that hat. Training opened our eyes to the canine world and we can’t recommend it enough.
Today The Blue Cross animal charity is encouraging responsible pet ownership with the aim of making green spaces enjoyable for everyone. They are asking dog lovers to make five pledges:
- to make sure their dog is safe around others
- to always know where their dog is when not on their lead
- to teach their dog to come back to them when called
- to always bag and bin their dog’s poos
- to make sure their pet is always a joy and never a nuisance!
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