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Monday, September 22, 2008

Recipe for a Calmer Dog

Lately I've been hearing lots of radio ads for "Poise Calming Treats." It's a truly frightening commercial. A woman is whining about how uncontrollable her puppy is, even though they've "tried" doggy day care and obedience. But then she discovers "Poise Calming Treats" and gives her dog one of these chill pills to make him "behave." The puppy's bad behaviors (including jumping, digging, barking, and "aggression") just magically go away.

Gimme a break!! I can't believe people are actually paying for this stuff. I don't know what's in Poise, but I suspect it's some fairly benign herbal combination. But that's beside the point. Puppies, like children, can't be "medicated" into good behavior! They have to be taught. No one "tries" obedience training. It is something you do, and keep doing for the life of the dog. And doggy day care, while it's good exercise, isn't going to teach the dog manners and self control around people. Only dog-parents can do that.

I'm relatively sure no one reading this blog would ever resort to giving their dog a supplement--even an herbal one-- to "calm" normal puppylike behaviors that need to be DEALT with, not medicated. Nonetheless, teaching people how to deal with "puppy behavior" kept me employed for many years. So here's the "calming formula" that works EVERY time if you dish it out with consistency:

1. Energetic short-leash power walk first thing every morning. No romping, no sniffing, no slowing down. You lead, the dog follows (on a leash). 15 minutes minimum. 30-45 minutes is better.
2. Arrive home with a slightly fatigued dog. Conduct 15 minutes of "home schooling," consisting of obedience lessons in sit, stay, down, come, pay attention, curb. Break up the 15 minutes with occasional trick training--shake hands, roll over, low crawl, and other frivolous stuff.
3. Take the dog outside to potty once more before crating or allowing to rest for a couple hours.

With this no-cost formula, you've satisfied the first two daily needs of every well balanced dog: exercise and discipline. The third, affection, is what you give freely to the fatigued and happy ("poised") dog who has done his best for you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I definitely agree. My regime with my "over-excited" dog is something like this. If you can't take the time to train your dog, you probably shouldn't have one. Some people appal me.