As trainers, one of the most common things we hear from dog owners is that they are worried about their dogs jumping up at other people or other dogs. Whether this is in the home, visiting friends or out and about – social skills and manners is something many people worry about when raising and training their dogs. This is why we wanted to put together a list of our top recommendations for ensuring you have a well-mannered dog!
This one isn’t possible for everyone – whether because you adopted your dog when they were already older or because that ship has simply sailed – but if you have the opportunity to do so then we highly recommend getting started with formal, structured training ASAP. Prevention really is better than cure so the best and easiest way to raise your dog to have good manners is to get ahead of the problem and teach them what we DO want them to do from day one!
Not all training is equal – bad training can lead to frustrated dogs and can have the opposite effect to the one we wanted. Frustration can often express itself in the form of jumping up, being unable to focus, lead biting, barking and other usually unwanted behaviours. This is why it is so important for the average dog owner to look into the qualifications and credentials of the trainers they work with, to ensure the trainer has good theoretical knowledge informing their training methods and techniques. At a minimum, your trainer should have external accreditation through an established industry body, such as the IMDT or APDT.
This is not only key in raising a happy, confident dog, but also in ensuring your dog is able to be calm, engaged and responsive around distractions such as people and dogs. Attending group classes has been shown to reduce aggressive behaviour towards other dogs and training around other people and dogs is a great way to help your dog learn to be relaxed and to listen to you in any environment.
1 in 10 Rule
This rule states that your dog should meet no more than 1 in 10 of the people/dogs that you see out and about. The other 9 or more should be a “non-event,” and a great chance to work on your dog’s calmness and engagement with you. This rule will help ensure that nervous dogs don’t start to feel overwhelmed and defensive and more confident dogs don’t start hitting the roof with excitement every time they spot another dog! Being able to feel secure, safe and calm when other people and dogs appear will make it much, much easier for your dog to listen and follow your cues so you can help them behave appropriately when they DO meet that 1 dog/person.
Ongoing Training & Socialisation
Just like us, our dogs need to work on new skills repeatedly and over a period of time before they become natural, automatic and fluent. Whether you are raising a puppy or have adopted an older dog, a consistent, ongoing approach to training and socialisation is the best way to support them through any potential issues and get on top of problems before they become established behaviour patterns. This is true for any dog of any age but it is particularly important if you are raising a young dog, as they will be reaching adolescence soon and you will need to be consistent and work hard to support them through this tumultuous time if you want to avoid any bad habits raising their heads!
Teach Calm Behaviours
We always want to set our dogs up to be successful – one way we can do this is by teaching and rehearsing the behaviours we want to see so we can let our dogs know what we’d like them to do in different situations. Attending classes to teach a range of calm, appropriate behaviours that you can use in social settings is a brilliant way to ensure both you and your dog have the tools you need to manage any scenario.
Social Skills Power Hour or Mind Your Manners Power Hour
If a calm, polite and well-mannered dog is your goal, securing a place on one of our upcoming Social Skills Power Hours or Mind Your Manners Power Hours is an investment well worth making. This jam-packed, one-off session will help you learn to understand your dog’s behaviour and needs and give you an actionable plan to continue practicing at home and in real life! If you want to meet up with friends or stop and chat to the neighbour without a worry, this class is for you!