Consistency Is The Key In Dog Training

FOCUS ON PETS

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The rolled up newspaper is an effective tool in disciplining a dog.

Far too many dogs are turned into or returned to the Humane Society because of behavior problems. Barking is a significant problem but chewing, begging at the table, jumping on people or being aggressive are other important issues. The rolled up newspaper is a great tool to modify an offensive behavior.

Not all annoying behaviors respond to the rolled up newspaper. However, for many actions, the results will amaze you, but only if you are consistent.

When you bring a new dog or puppy into the household, most everything he does is cute. But as time passes, those cute behaviors become downright irritating. Because you have never corrected these behaviors before, you tend to think it is too late -- so you live with them until they begin to drive you crazy. It is never too late. But it is never too early either.

An annoying behavior is better eliminated before it becomes a habit. Barking is a huge behavior problem. Nobody likes it but way too many people tolerate it until it drives everyone crazy.

So much of dog training is similar to raising a child. There are those parents who are too strict and the child is denied the opportunity to make decisions for himself. Those are sad cases.

But more obviously, there are far too many people who are too lenient with their children. In a restaurant or other public place, these children are allowed to cry or carry on and everyone in that place is affected by it. As these children grow, their lack of discipline presents itself in all sorts of ways.

Lack of discipline in a small child is not nearly so annoying as this lack in a teenager or adult. The same is true with dogs. Dogs are like children in that they respond positively to proper discipline and respect the person doing the disciplining. They also are like children in that they will take advantage of every opportunity to test the endurance and strength of the person in charge.

So back to the rolled up newspaper. One section of the Payson Roundup, after everyone has read it that is, is about the right size. Roll the paper and put a rubber band on each end. However, you do not want just one of these. You should have one in every room within easy reach and one on the deck and maybe one in the car. When an unacceptable behavior presents itself, say "NO!" in a loud voice ("No bark!" for example) and slap the newspaper against your leg. At first, the dog will look at you and say to himself, "What in the heck was that for?" But he will stop barking. Then say, "Good no bark."

If the dog begs at the table, say "no beg" and slap the newspaper on your leg or on the table. However, do not scare everyone else at the table into a case of indigestion. If you are consistent, you will notice a change in the behavior.

Always remember to praise good behavior.

The newspaper is effective because it makes a loud noise but does not cause bodily harm. Rarely would you apply the newspaper to the dog. If it is a serious offense, however, like an act of aggression, do slap the dog on the rump or shoulders. Dogs should never, ever be slapped in the face or on the head with anything, including your hand. A serious act of aggression to a child or other dog would be the exception and then, immediate action is essential.

There are times when using the newspaper are not appropriate. In the case of housetraining, especially with a new puppy, you want to instill calm and relaxation. The newspaper would be frightening and distracting. There are better ways to train a dog not to jump on people. But in general, for annoying behaviors, a slap on the leg with the rolled newspaper works miracles. Consistency is the key.

Christy Wrather is a columnist for the Payson Roundup. She can be reached by e-mail at cpwrather@earthlink.net, or by snail-mail at HC1 Box 210, Strawberry, AZ 85544.

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