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Besides the common health problems and ailments, our dogs can also have other "issues"... you know, the ones you don't like to talk about and over which you're usually embarrassed and occasionally apologetic. Yeah, THOSE ones... pulling on the leash, jumping up at people, excessive barking and digging, shredding furniture to smithereens... just to name a few. Well, whether you're a dog veteran or a newbie (defined as an owner of dogs who's still normal ), it's good to know what can help to keep the peace at home and the neighbours happy.

  • Physical Activity: Exercising your dog in the form of walking, running (preferably on soft ground) and swimming will help to drain excess energy. A tired dog is usually a "good" dog. Do this for your daily routine, but also before major events, such as a dinner with friends at your home, a visit to the vet or a play-date with some four-legged pals. The calmer the dog, the more enjoyable his company will be for you.
  • Mental Stimulation: Obedience training or even teaching your dog funny tricks can be entertaining and will tease his neurons. Some dogs do exceptionally well with search and retrieving games, some with agility. Make use of your own garden or look for a nice spot around your residential area if you don't have your own. Use positive reinforcement training methods in order to enhance the bond between your pooch and you.
  • Consistency: Dog owners are frequently inconsistent when it comes to the rules of the house and behaviour of their dogs. No means no! If Fido is not allowed to sit on the sofa, he should never be allowed to sit there... EVER! Otherwise he's actually receiving mixed messages from you and that's when the trouble sets in. Setting the rules and boundaries from day one, and keeping at them consistently, will help prevent MANY issues.
  • Keep At It! You're not only raising a puppy - you're going to be guiding and training your dog (consciously or not!) throughout his entire life. And it's very important to remember that every interaction teaches him something. So stay aware and vigilant!

This may seem contradictory, but the better a dog is trained, the more freedom it will enjoy. Well-balanced, well-socialised and well-trained dogs can be taken along almost anywhere and do not need to be locked up at home. Many dog owners only seek professional help when their dog is already showing problem behaviours and by then, unfortunately, the problems can be ingrained and difficult to fix. Start early and prevent, rather than fix.

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