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Home > Pet News and Articles > From Servants to Members of the Family

From Servants to Members of the Family
Article By: Glenn Redmond

Our attachment to animals throughout history has been paramount to our survival. They have pulled carts, guarded properties, herded livestock and kept our homes and farms rodent free.

Nowadays, their role has evolved to that of pet, companion and member of the family. They can make us laugh and cry; we live with them and miss them terribly when they are gone, but know that our lives have been enriched by their presence in our households. We buy toys and designer clothing from boutique pet stores, and spend time and money grooming and training them so they look and behave their best. We dedicate books and magazines solely to pets to achieve greater understanding of who they are and to educate ourselves on how best to care for them.

It's with great enthusiasm and pleasure that I welcome readers to The Telegram's new Pet Column.

We'll explore a variety of topics, from behavioural issues to latest trends, focusing on our most popular companions - dogs and cats. Every now and again, we'll talk about rabbits, reptiles, fish and any other pets of interest. Questions on any pet related topic are welcome, as are stories you would like to share.

Four on the Floor

To get the ball rolling, here's a few words of advice on how to keep our canines four paws on the ground, rather than all over our guests.

One problem some dog owners experience is their dog's unending desire to jump on their guests, friends and strangers. This behavior from a small dog can be annoying, but from a larger breed downright dangerous and can certainly limit you and your dog's popularity in the community. Many a dog owner has lamented the loss of social visits to their home simply because of the mauling that takes place upon their guest's arrival.

Let's look at it from the dog's point of view. They jump and get pushed away. They jump again and we push harder with a parade of words that the dog perceives to be encouragement. The frustrated owner grabs the collar, trying in vain to hold the dog back as their guest slides along the wall trying to make it to the couch. The dog is released and happily continues the enthusiastic greeting all over the furniture, making the guest wish they had simply called instead of come over. Sound familiar?

How then do we teach our social butterfly that this love fest is not well received?

The first step is to remove the huge reward system that is in place, which keeps the dog coming back for more fun every time. Quite simply, when we push a dog away from us, it is interpreted as a playful action, encouraging the dog to jump harder and with more determination.

Furthermore, when a dog is being held back by the collar, a canine bomb is brewing as their desire to break free and continue this wonderful game becomes stronger with every passing second. When released, they jump and play with more enthusiasm, just in case it was unclear the first time how happy they are you dropped by. Removing our reward actions is key to extinguishing the jumping behavior for good.

Teach your dog to sit before any attention is given from you or your guests. Have the dog on a six-foot leash before company arrives to prevent the mad dash to the door. Have some treats handy to reward the dog only when he or she is sitting calmly. In this way, we draw attention to and reward calm sitting as opposed to frantic mayhem.

Teaching a dog not to jump involves some planning, patience, a little work, and a lot of consistency. In the end, you will have a more enjoyable dog and much happier guests.

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