I was visiting Flowery Branch last week working with a new Home Dog Training client and her eight-month-old Irish Wolfhound named Doogan.  Doogan was a very affectionate puppy, full of vim and vigor.  On top of that, he was already over ninety-five pounds.  He was very inquisitive, and because of that, it was very difficult to ever get his calm and respectful focus.  He would rather spend his time chasing birds and squirrels than to respond to my client’s commands and directions. 

Guidelines for a responsible dog owner

One of her top issues was Doogan’s inability to get back into the house when instructed. Our lesson included a great deal of “boundary work” as well as simple “come” and behavior exercises.  Irish Wolfhounds are great dogs and very intelligent.  Doogan demonstrated that he lived up to these characteristics.  He quickly picked up on the lessons we were teaching and began to give my client the focus and obedience she wanted.

Our client mentioned that Doogan was her first dog and she wanted to make sure that, going forward, she did all the right things for Doogan.  At this point, you and I are thinking the same thing; “Why did she get a ‘giant dog’ as her first dog?”.  Instead of delving into that subject, I decided to focus on Doogan’s continued wellbeing.  I provided her with several safety and common-sense guidelines that Robin and I have passed on to our clients over the years.

After eighteen years of dog training, Robin and I have come to the realization that there are some universal and simple procedures that dog owners can follow that will maximize their dog’s safety, health, and general wellbeing.  Just about all of these guidelines are “win-win” actions because they make sure the dog is happy and secure, the dog owner is happy and secure, and anyone that would come in contact with the dog is also happy and secure.

You really can’t ask for more than that when it comes to a set of rules. Please understand that this is an outline and some states, counties, municipalities, and HOA’s may have their own, specific guidelines.  If you have any questions regarding actions with your dog that may come under the purview of a local agency, please check with them.

In many cities and counties, dog owners are obliged by law to register their dogs at the age of six months and to keep them registered. If this is the case, the dog must always wear a registration tag and an identification tag (i.e. dog tags). This will make it easy for someone who might find your dog to quickly return him to you.

Having your dog wear dog tags is also very important in the event of your dog inadvertently getting out of the back yard.  If he is picked up by Animal Control and taken to the pound, the pound will have the information to contact you.  If your dog needs medical attention, his identification will allow him to get to your vet before anything bad happens.

Even though it is currently not a requirement in most locations, we firmly recommend that you have your dog “chipped”.  A “chip” is a tiny device that is placed directly under your dog’s skin. Vets do this all the time, and the simple procedure does not hurt the dog. Once placed, it permits any Veterinarian, Rescue Facility, or any individual with the proper equipment to figure out “who your dog is” and start the process of getting him back to you. With “the chip” we have found that many dog owners will receive a call “Hey, I found your dog”, before they know that their dog is missing.

One of the newest technologies you can use to protect your dog is a GPS device.  This is a small, electronic device that fits on your dog’s collar.  Once activated, it will allow you to track your dog’s movements.

Many of them have the option of setting a “safe area”. If the GPS sees that your dog has left the “safe area”, you will be immediately notified on your cell phone that he is out. The app on your phone will also provide you with a map that will direct you to your dog’s location.

It is very important that you make sure your dog is appropriately confined both day and night. If you permit him to freely wander, even the most docile dog may be a menace to wildlife and neighbors taking a late-night stroll.

Some dogs have little patience for children. Kids are normally short and will automatically get less respect from dogs.  This is because they may view the “short animals” as being lower in the dog pack pecking order.

When kids play with dogs, it can often be in a “teasing way”. The dog’s natural response to this would be a “friendly nip”. Your dog means no harm, he is simply responding and has no intention of hurting or scaring the child. Unfortunately, parents often view “friendly nips” as “aggressive attacks”. Once labeled a “bad dog that attacks kids”, your dog would be viewed as a danger to society and be destroyed.

Regrettably, no one asks the dog’s side of the story. So for your dog’s safety, keep him in your backyard and out of harm’s way. A responsible owner or parent can prevent dog attacks on children by closely supervising children when they are around dogs.

If you are “out and about”, you should always keep your dog on a leash. The person holding the leash must be able to maintain control if the dog starts to become unruly or disobedient. We strongly suggest that you never allow a child to walk a big dog unsupervised. Check with your city or county agencies to see if there are designated “leash-free” areas where your dog can run free.

Keeping your dog on leash is very important for both you and your dog. You are to blame if your dog attacks someone. Under the law, you may be held responsible for any injury or damage caused by your dog if he attacks a person or an animal.

If you absolutely have to be in a situation where you and your dog are in “close quarters” with other people, understand that this will often make your dog excited, anxious, and possibly fearful.  This could lead to “bad things”. So, if you and your dog will be facing this situation, we strongly suggest having him wear a Baskerville Basket Muzzle. This is a very humane device that allows him to do everything but bite and nip. It will decrease your anxiety level and will actually calm your dog down. The pure sight of the muzzle will often make people “give you guys a little more room”. In any extent, it will assure that the situation will remain safe.

As a courtesy to others, pick up any poop your dog may deposit on the sidewalk. Some counties have even begun to issue fines to owners who do not pick up after their pets. I know of one HOA that requires you to give them your dog’s DNA. Their “Poopie Police” will then go around, pick up any “unpicked up poop”, run a DNA on that poop, identify the culprit, and then give you a “Poopie Ticket”.

Please call or text us at (770) 718-7704 if you need any dog training help.  You can also email us at [email protected]. We are blessed to have been your local dog training experts for over eighteen years.  We have trained over 6,000 wonderful dogs and excellent families and are ready to help you.