By Linda Cole
A well mannered dog is a reflection on his owner. Socialization is an important part of a dog’s education, along with learning commands that can help keep him safe. There are lots of great summer activities and adventures you can enjoy with your pet. Whether you’re off to a free outdoor concert, heading to the beach or a family picnic at the park, there are certain commands you should teach your dog before going into any public place. Knowing that your furry friend understands and follows specific commands makes every outing safe and fun for everyone.
Training your dog to come when you call his name is one of the most important commands you can teach. There are a multitude of situations out in public where a dog can run into trouble. Having the confidence that your dog will recognize his name and respond immediately by returning to you helps keep him out of harm’s way or from becoming lost. Make sure a recall command is always a happy and positive experience, so your dog wants to come when called. Never call him to you for any kind of punishment. That’s the best way to teach him not to come.
Wait and Stay
Wait and stay can be a bit harder to teach, but both commands are well worth the effort to help keep your dog safe. These commands can stop him from running out in front of an oncoming car, taking a bad fall over a cliff or jumping into your car before you can wipe off his feet after a muddy run at the beach.
Wait means you want your dog to stop where he’s at – sit, stand or lie down – and listen for further instructions. Stay means don’t move until you release him. Knowing that your dog understands and complies with both commands should be part of your pet’s education. Unless your dog reliably comes every time you call him regardless of any distractions, you should always keep him on leash or in a secure enclosure.
You never know what your canine friend might find when out in public, whether you’re at a dog friendly restaurant, the beach, hiking or even just walking around the neighborhood. The drop it command can stop him from eating something nasty or dangerous.
With all of the distractions that can capture a dog’s attention, the watch me (or look at me) command gets your pup to focus on you. Not everyone you meet in public spaces knows the proper way to approach a dog. From your pet’s point of view, someone who gives direct eye contact can cause him to feel uncomfortable. Asking him to look at you focuses his attention on you and helps to put him at ease when he’s feeling uncertain about a person, another dog or any other situation.
Dogs bark – it’s as natural to them as talking is to us. However, when in public spaces, having the ability to ask your pet to be “quiet” can help you avoid stinging glares from people around you. Barking is appropriate at dog sports and even in the show ring. An outdoor concert is another matter. Few concert attendees would appreciate listening to your dog “singing along.” A good way to teach the quiet command is to first teach him to speak; Langley Cornwell’s article has on how to teach your dog to speak has some good tips.