The following article appeared in a SEISC newsletter in 1987 and, with the exception of the numbers used in the first paragraph, it is just as relevant today as it was 30 years ago.
Today the numbers of dogs in UK, according to Pet Food Manufacturers Association’s Pet Population Report, now stands at 8.5 million dogs in 24% of households.
Guide Dogs for the Blind is now known as Guidedogs
Train Your Dog
There are over five million dogs in this country, yet only a few thousand owners train their dogs in good basic manners.
A great deal of research has been done on the easiest and kindest ways to train dogs, by the Guide Dogs for the Blind organisations, around the world. It would be a considerable advantage if every pet dog were as well trained.
The dog, being a pack animal, required a leader. Should the owner abdicate discipline, which the dog respects, then the dog becomes the pack leader, and pack leaders are unpleasant companions.
There are many dog clubs in every part of the country. Some are for pedigree dogs, destined for the show ring beauty competitions, run by the breed clubs. But a growing number have sprung up which teach good basic behaviour to dogs. The owner learns to prevent pulling on the lead, which is uncomfortable for the owner and for the dog. They learn to teach the dog how to sit, to lie down and to stand still until told to move. Such disciplines are invaluable: sitting at the kerb means car drivers know the dog won’t leap into the road: the vet needs the dog to stand for examination and well trained dogs do not fuss when treated: every dog should lie down when the family is occupied, eating or having visitors.
The dog should be the lowest pack member in every household and shown his positon, with even the baby able to command him to behave. All children, even visiting children, must be taught how to live with a dog and never allowed to tease it or play roughly, which leads to trouble.
Dogs can be taught where and when to do “its business” on command, in an approved place, which means they can then be taken out safely in public. They can be taught to sit and be petted without jumping up to greet other dog and people sensibly, and to come when called every time, not just when the mood seizes them.
Basic training must be done correctly and regularly. It needs about half an hour every day as dogs’ memories are short and they learn by small stages. And it must be done kindly. A dog that is constantly told it is stupid will be stupid; a dog that is praised does its best to earn more praise.
Fun of the chase.
The dog also needs to be guided through its day and shown what he may or may not do in every situation. He must be trained not to chase cats, people or farm stock, none of which comes naturally.
Some people give up as it takes time: it takes skill and it takes a considerable amount of patience, but it’s worth every minute. Those who have neither the time nor patience should opt for a cat, not a dog.
The end result of the training is a partnership that is envied by other dog owners. The dog is far happier as a working partner not a nuisance to be tolerated, and the owner’s quality of life benefits enormously.