Instructional · Life experience · Lists · The Reverend John Henry

On Dog Training: the Basics

As this is the first dog I have ever had to train, I have made myself an instant expert by reading some of one book, watching YouTube videos, and one episode of the Dog Whisperer. The Reverend John Henry will not suffer other dogs barking in his home without joining in with all the force his tiny frame can muster. So, we can no longer learn from the magical world of Cesar Millan.

But all this book (and video) learning only gets you so far, anyway. The real knowledge is gained from experience.

And this is mine.

  1. If your dog thrusts its nose into long grass and a cloud of flies rises up, your dog should move its nose right now.
  2. Teaching a dog to sit is easy. Teaching it to do your tax returns is more of a challenge.
  3. No poop licking! (I’ve made this a general family rule, but I’m not judging you for your life choices…)
  4. Dog training needs to be a one-dog-at-a-time activity. More dogs = mo’trouble.
  5. People who walk around with their dogs off-leash, dog and owner both completely ignoring your yapping puppy, choking himself on his leash to get to them because he really just wants to play, are the hateful hipsters of the dog-owning community.
  6. Dogs, like babies, often thrive on a schedule. If you both know he poops at noon and 8pm, you can all relax (unless you’re trapped in a traffic jam at lunchtime with a poop-full dog in the back seat).
  7. For younger dogs who seem to regard the whole of existence as their playground, no amount of training can interrupt the pure thrill of seeing another dog, a small person, a nearby bird, or a golf cart. When this happens, hold on tight and keep saying your command words so it at least looks likes you’re trying.
  8. Giving them their medicine is actually good for them, although neither you nor your dog will feel this is true. Assuage your guilt with a small doggie treat (for the dog) and a small drink of something grown-up (for you).
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