Ethical Issues

Is It Unethical And Dangerous To Own An Untrained Dog?

Getting a new dog can be a great experience for kids and adults alike, but it can also be a real test of patience as well. A good way to get it used to following your lead, is to start teaching it verbal commands. There are lots of verbal commands you can teach your dog, but in this article we’ll take a look at just a few of the basic dog training commands that just about every owner will want to teach his or her dog.

One of the most famous and successful American dog trainers of all time was the trainer of the Lassies, Rudd Weatherwax (September 23, 1907 – February 25, 1985). Mr. Weatherwax once said of the millions of dogs in America only a small percentage are truly trained, by that he meant trained to the five basic commands. You owe it to yourself and that beautiful loving creature you have taken responsibility for to teach him the basic commands. The five are heel, sit, down, stay,  come and for good measure drop it. You both will be immensely happier for having done this training. A trained dog is a happier, healthier and safer dog. Weatherwax liked to use the example of an untrained dog running in the path of an oncoming truck. If he is untrained you are helpless to stop him.

It seems from observation of people walking dogs in the park that most dog owners are content with stopping the active training once the dog is housebroken. You are doing yourself and the dog a disservice if you stop there. Do you really want to be dragged by the leashed dog for the next ten or fifteen years?

One of the most popular basic dog training commands is the quintessential “sit.” Telling your dog to sit should not only have it plop down in front of you, but give you its attention for a second command. Most dog owners use the “sit” command as a sort of “stand at attention,” allowing them to move on to another command from there. To teach your dog to sit, you can simply call it over to you, tell it to sit, and see what happens. If it does sit, give it praise or a small treat to reinforce the behavior and let it know it did the right thing. If it does not sit, then apply a gentle pressure to its back legs (not too much pressure, as dogs’ hips can be injured by pushing down too hard) to remind it what to do. Repeat this as often as necessary until your dog can do it on the first try.

Other basic dog training commands include “stay” and “down.” Telling your dog to stay should keep it from moving until you give the word, and telling it to lie down should have it, obviously, lie down. These can be useful for when you want to keep your dog out of the way, or if you need it to wait for a minute.

Another common basic dog training command that can be particularly useful at home is “out.” You can apply this to several rooms, but it is often used in the kitchen. If you are cooking and your dog smells it, he or she may come wandering in and start waiting for you to drop food, and generally get in the way and act like a pest. Telling your dog “out” should have it retreat out of the room until a later time.

The fact is that the majority of owned dogs have had no formal training – positive or otherwise. Since dogs are now sharing our homes and our lives in ever closer ways, it is more important than ever that every dog be given a good canine education. Doing so will prevent thousands of dogs being surrendered to shelters due to behavioral issues that could have been prevented. Investing the time to teach your dog will make living with her easier and that investment could also save her life. 

VICTORIA STILWELL

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