The latest research from Monash University disproves that old adage "less is more" when it comes to training your dog to be friendly, relaxed and obedient.
"Dogs are highly intelligent animals that want to please their owners. This research suggests that if a pet has behavioural problems, it often has more to do with the attitude and actions of the owner, rather than the dog," says Dr Pauleen Bennett from the Animal Welfare Science Centre at Monash University.
"The research demonstrates a clear link between the attitudes owners have to their dogs and the amount of time and effort that they put into training. It supports the argument that almost any dog can be well-behaved, it just depends on the quality and amount of training their owner provides," says Dr Bennett.
"The extent to which owners engage in and take responsibility for training and socialization activities and the extent to which they see their dogs as having behavioural problems are linked.
"For example, participants who were solely responsible for their dog's care believed their dogs were better behaved than participants who considered someone else to be responsible for caring for the dog," says Dr Bennett.
The Delta Society, a not-for-profit organization which runs the Canine Good Citizen training program says that the Monash University results are consistent with their experience.
"Some dog owners have difficulty understanding their dog's behaviour and do not take the necessary steps to fully train it. As a result, the dog might understand basic commands but still not be a well behaved pet," says Dr Gaille Perry, who runs Canine Good Citizen.
Dogs that have completed a minimum six week accredited training program are invited to sit for the Canine Good Citizen test. In addition to basic obedience tests, there are a number of challenges that are designed to demonstrate that the dog is confident at all times when faced with distracting conditions.
"Dogs, like children, are learning all the time. Owners need to teach them and guide them to learn appropriate and acceptable behaviours. Training needs to be started as soon as possible and practiced in a variety of situations," says Miss Kylie McGee, a Canine Good Citizen Instructor and Veterinary Nurse.
"As a trainer, I find dogs that are socialised early and have had ongoing training are far better behaved than dogs that have not had those opportunities. It shows when an owner has put the time and effort into working with their dog, as they are rewarded with a well mannered family member.
"Unfortunately many owners wait until they are faced with a problem behaviour before they try to train their dog. From my experience it is far easier to teach good manners than try to correct a problem. A course in basic manners would benefit all dogs, that way the dog is taught what it is that we expect from them," says Miss McGee.
To find out more about Canine Good Citizen or to locate an accredited trainer in your area, go to: www.deltasocietyaustralia.com.au
For more information about pet care, visit www.petnet.com.au