This week I am running a dog training workshop on this exact subject, teaching our owners and their pups what to do. ‘Manners!’ I hear you all cry. ‘Dogs need to do as they are told!’. Well, that’s great, but how do we start teaching these?
A good dog citizen comes from a good human teacher.
Dogs aren’t born knowing about manners, any more than young humans are. Gone are the days where we used to frighten children and dogs into being too scared to do anything. Nowadays we understand that the quickest way to a happy, sociable adult person or dog is to train them to do the right things without fear or force.
The idea of a good citizen is to take on board that we live in a society with others. This means that certain behaviours aren’t ideal and some are downright illegal – stealing, violence, being noisy are examples.
Dogs live as a species that we bred deliberately to do things for us and are somewhat dependent on us for most of the time. We have a powerful responsibility to help dogs learn what ‘manners’ look like, rather than expecting them to automatically know.
The worst approach to teaching a dog is to wait for them to go wrong, and then yell at them, smack them or yank them around on their leads. Poor things! There are laws against doing this too, so don’t do it.
Who trains the dog?
You are the teacher, so if they haven’t learned something, that’s not their fault. And even if they have learned something, they aren’t ‘wrong’ or ‘naughty’ if they fail. You need to teach them that no matter what the temptation, they aren’t allowed to just jump up at people. You do that by teaching them how to stay calm, really thoroughly, rather than punishing them.
Teaching dogs is a skill, and it’s ok to admit you don’t know how – yet. That’s what us dog trainers are here for. We are highly trained, experienced professionals who see around 30-40 dogs a week, so we definitely know better than someone in your family or some fella down the road who happens to shout at his dog occasionally or suggests a prong collar.
So, what really does make a good dog citizen? You do, by taking your dog to ‘school’, whether it’s at home, in a class, or both. This means you learn how to teach your dog, because really, you need training, too.
Be a good dog citizen by investing time into learning how to – with modern methods and rewards, not punishment – get your dog to do that tricky job of being a family pet.
Humans looking for a good walk and socialisation can join the Ramblers….. dogs and, of course, their owners – can now get involved in Big Walkies, a group set up by two dog-lovers from St Ives and St Neots.
Becca Bryant (St Ives) and Jackie Fitzpatrick (St Neots) set up the Big Walkies website after discovering there was a lack of information about dog-friendly walks in Huntingdonshire.
Becca said: “I tried to find a different dog walk for each month but after scouring the internet we found there weren’t many listed.
“So I decided to set up a website that would recommend dog walks in Huntingdonshire ….. but interest was shown in our small group meeting for dog walks, so we decided to dedicate the website to dog walking events and the promotion of responsible dog ownership across Cambrigdeshire.”
“We’ve since had interest from as far away as Leeds, Cardiff, Devon and Cornwall, and it is my ambition to see the network spread across the country.”
“Socialisation of dogs is so important in regards to their behaviour towards other dogs, humans and adaptation in different envionments. Big Walkies are proud to have Guide Dogs and Hearing Dogs puppies use the group to socialise dogs.”
“I would say to anyone who has a dog to come along and harvest both the mental and physical health benefits of dog walking.”
Who can join? You! Anybody who wants to get fit and healthy and enjoy doing so with theirs/other peoples dogs! How can you join? Register as a member for FREE and choose the events you attend. What happens at Big Walkies? From 40 minutes to 2 hours walk in accessible green space in Cambridgeshire with your/other peoples dogs. Why should I join? To get socialised, fit, healthy, feel a sense of community, have fun with your/other peoples dogs, get outdoors, feel safe, make friends……. and many more reasons! When do you meet? Weekly, fortnightly, monthly – you choose!!
Big Walkies holds numerous events in Cambridgeshire. Visit www.bigwalkies.org.uk for more information or to register as a member for free!
As Big Walkies is a community group and not funded, they welcome a donation at the end of their events (suggested £1). However, this is a donation and you are not expected to pay this.
Take your first steps towards a healthier lifestyle for you and your dog and join now ……. it’s FREE!
A lot of us have super friendly cats – when they want to be. They enjoy fuss on their own terms. Some are all over us and can’t cope when we decide we want to sleep, racing around the house and peering into our snoozing faces. How can we make sure those cats are kept happy so that behaviour issues don’t develop?
A stressed cat will show it by toileting out of their tray, spraying up furniture, hiding, fighting with other cats, and sleeping a great deal (more than you even thought possible). They hide so many signs that often when I am called in to help, the problem has become so big that it takes a long time to help resolve.
Helping a cat with issues doesn’t always have to cost you time and energy. If cats don’t get along in the house, you can do a lot to help them. Cats like places to get up and away from each other, and often will prefer coming and going through separate exits of the home, or at different times. With a bit of planning, you can help each cat to have their own space, because location is very important to cats. And, surprise surprise, they don’t like to share very often.
To help cats get away from each other, cat multiplay towers are ideal, but a simple shelf can suffice. Some of us purchase beautiful wooden ones that are a piece of furniture in themselves. After all, it will be in our home! Any climbing tower, complete with scratching posts, swings, holes to hide in and platforms to look down from, give a fantastic use of the aerial space cats often occupy when free to roam outdoors compared to our ground-level rooms. Don’t be put off if your cat isn’t interested straightaway. Any new addition to a home is likely to be treated with suspicion, so give it time. If after about six weeks, they still aren’t keen, try it in a new place because it’s most likely the cats don’t like the exposure in that particular location.
Cats can compete for food or water bowls, so purchasing one set of bowls per cat, plus one, is an excellent tactic. When placed in different rooms, these allow cats to occupy their own food station territory to resolve squabbles. Additional, large litter trays encourage a cat to choose these more readily. Some cats prefer lidded trays, so that they can perform in peace away from other cats’ prying eyes. And don’t place litter trays next to feeding stations; many cats are understandably particular about eating dinner next to the toilet!
Yes, cats are known to be inscrutable, but their behaviour tell us more about them than we often think. Did you know that if your cat is wagging her tail at you that is not a good sign? (She’s angry.) Or what it means if her pupils are dilated? (She’s scared.) Or if she’s kneading your leg? (She s showing appreciation.) Getting straight to the point, The Purrfect Guide to Thinking like a Cat doesn’t waste time on lengthy and complicated explanations that you will never finish reading let alone put into practice. Instead, in brief instructions the book explains how to understand your cat s behaviour and how you can adapt your own behaviour to make the most of your relationship.