Good Manners A Must

FOCUS ON PETS

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I created some real problems in last week's column for anyone wanting to respond to the poll regarding dog training or to get information about the hiking group. My e-mail address was not included at the end of the column as it usually is and Lori's was incorrect. My apologies are extended to all. In spite of that, we have received some encouraging response.

Dog training is a vitally important part of responsible pet ownership. A properly trained dog is a welcome member of the family. An untrained dog can be a pain and those are often the ones that are ignored in the back yard. It is not the dog's fault. We must assume the responsibility for providing that training. I will ask once again for you to respond to this poll. Please submit your dog training thoughts, needs and areas of interest. The areas to be considered are puppy classes, basic obedience, clicker training, Canine Good Citizenship, agility, musical freestyle or other. My e-mail address is cpwrather@earthlink.net or call (928) 476-2239. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the subject of dog training.

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Training your dog is fun for both of you and the results will amaze both of you.

So often people tell me that they think my dog is well behaved. We might be in a store or doing a program at a school or library. These comments amaze me because the behavior they are commenting about is just basic good manners. I like to think that all dogs will sit, lie down and stay on command. They should. Higgins loves to go everywhere with me and he seems to know which places require good behavior and when he can be his obnoxious self.

Once you learn how to train for basic obedience, it is ongoing but continually gets easier. Just as with children and discipline, you never just say it once and expect the child to remember and follow the rules forever. They need reminders. The more our dog is with us, the more he will be practicing good obedience and the better behaved he will become. Dogs long to be part of the family and will do whatever they can to be there. If they do not have the basics, they try to get our attention however they can -- and often this is jumping up on us, barking and tearing things up. If we offer them a more acceptable way, they will do their best to respond.

The American Kennel Club has a program called "Canine Good Citizen" designed to promote responsible dog owners and well-behaved dogs. It is a program for every dog, not just those registered with AKC. Mary Burch, a certified applied animal behaviorist and CGC program director, says that this program began in 1989 with the aim of rewarding well-mannered dogs. She sees the program as "one way to assure that the dogs we love will always be welcomed and well-respected members of our communities." Some insurance companies were refusing to cover homeowners with certain breeds of dogs, but now they are seriously weighing the value of the CGC diploma.

The CGC program is one that is being considered as part of a training program in Payson. When the program is successfully completed and the dog passes the test, the dog receives a certificate from the AKC. The test is not hard. The expected behavior is simply good behavior that all dogs should have. Let us know if you want to be part of this program.
I have only been able to go on one of the "hiking with your dog" hikes, but it was great fun. It is such a joy to see the dogs running and playing together. We cringe when they get into a stock tank and come out dirty, smelly and dripping wet. But they love it.

To be a part of this hiking group, your dog must be well socialized and not dog-aggressive. They must be under control and come when called.

The contact person is Lori Chandler. The correct address for her is mtnrider@cybertrails.com.

As the group grows, hikes will be designed around different levels of difficulty and distance and also trips can be planned during the week or on weekends depending on interest. Let Lori know of your interest.

The Payson Humane Society will have a wonderful new shelter. Raising the remainder of the needed money will be a challenge. Let's come up with some wonderful ways to help. One way to help is to support their yard and bake sale at St. Philip's Catholic Church on April 9.

Because of the overwhelming response, there will be another spay and neuter clinic on April 12. Call the shelter, (928) 474-5590 to get all the information and sign up.

A class is being offered for those interested in walking dogs at the humane society. Call the PHS for more information. All dogs love a walk but those who are penned up are particularly appreciative of an outing.

Lots of good things are happening in the world of dogs in our area. Be a part of it.

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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