Down, Boy! By: Ashley Owen Hill/guest columnist The Meridian Star
Nothing makes us smile like a pet with a great personality. Everyone loves a friendly dog or cat with a happy disposition. But when behavior issues aren’t addressed, “happy” can become “completely spastic.” And let’s just be honest, no one likes spastic—for pets or for people.
Everyone has had the experience of walking into a friend’s home, only to be knocked to the ground by an overly excited dog.
“Well hello, Mister Dog! Thank you for the broken tailbone and saliva spritzer. And don’t worry, I didn’t really need to use my right arm anymore anyway...”
When this happens, the dog’s owners are quite embarrassed, while the guests suddenly feel the need to run for their lives. Sounds fun, right? It may seem like the dog is having a blast tormenting your friends, but these behavior problems are actually due to a lack of exercise and improper training.
Dogs need lots of exercise. There is no substitute for this, and it’s every bit as important to their health and well-being as food and water. Dogs need daily walks, for a minimum of 20 minutes. Larger breeds need to be walked for longer periods, as well as have outdoor playtime in a safe, fenced area.
Many people falsely believe that small dogs do not need daily walks. But when a small pup will not stop yapping and jumping, it’s due to energy level and behavior problems that have not been addressed. Just because a small dog cannot take you down in one swoop, doesn’t mean they have a lesser need for exercise and training.
Teaching your dog basic training commands is also very important. If you say, “Sit,” and your dog looks at you like you are the dumbest person on the planet, then they could use some work in this area.
Direct your dog to perform the requested command. When they comply, give treats and praise. Repetition is key in ensuring understanding of commands. This basic training technique is important to the safety of your pets and guests, as well as your dog’s confidence level and overall well-being.
Also, make sure you don’t encourage negative behavior. If your dog receives love and praise when they jump on you, then guess what? Your pet will continue to jump for attention, because you are reinforcing this behavior with your affection. Therefore, it’s not fair to get angry when Spot wants to hit-up your guests for a piggy-back ride.
Each time your dog jumps on you, you need to cross your arms, turn your back, and ignore them. When they have stopped the behavior and are calmly seated, turn around and give them lots of praise. Eventually, your dog will learn that attention is not given when they jump, but rather when they remain calm.
Exercise and proper training will go a long way in correcting your dog’s behavior issues. The number of lawsuits due to your pet’s rambunctious antics will decrease, and your dog’s overall happiness will increase.