Choosing a dog
So, you’ve decided that now’s the time to bring a dog into your home. But where’s the best place to go to find the right one for you or your family?
Generally speaking, you have three main options: dog shelters, breeders and pet shops.
- Shelters: If the idea of saving a rescue dog appeals to you, then dog shelters are the best place to start your search. Many wonderful dogs end up in shelters – and most shelters are very careful about which dogs they will re-home. That said, you do need to exercise caution with your selection. Also, be sure to give your dog time to settle in before you become too confident with him or her. Here are some local pet shelters to consider adopting from: Dogs Home, Second Chance Animal Rescue, RSPCA VIC and Save A Dog.
- Breeders: When it comes to choosing a breeder, always do your homework and be sure their reputation is sound and that they are a registered breeder. And remember: just because their dogs are well behaved doesn’t mean yours will be. Most breeders put in a lot of time and effort into training their dogs, but are you in a position to do the same? Contrary to what many breeders might tell you, good behaviour is mostly a result of environment and training – not genetics.
- Pet shops: Pet shops are now banned from selling puppies after new laws passed by the Victorian Parliament.
Before you bring your puppy home, be sure to check:
- It is not sick or underweight (ideally you should receive a health certificate from a vet)
- That its environment and conditions were 100% clean and hygienic.
- All vaccination and worming is up-to-date with a card to verify it
- That it is micro-chipped
Every family is different and there’s no single breed that is best suited to all families. Factors such as the number of people in your household or the layout of your home can play a big role in helping you determine which breed to choose.
For absolute peace of mind, we recommend taking advantage of our breed selection service.
Generally speaking, female dogs are often gentler with young children – and males can be a little harder to control. But ultimately, it’s the quality of your training that matters.
Puppy & Dog Training
Puppies can pick up bad habits very quickly. And in the same amount of time, it’s just as easy to teach them to be model canine citizens. So start on day one!
And remember: training should be an ongoing commitment. Every minute you are with your pup is an opportunity to stop bad behaviour and reinforce good habits.
Sadly, approximately 80% of the dogs we work with were once puppy school ‘graduates’.
From our experience, puppy schools and other forms of group training are ineffective in addressing undesirable behaviours because every dog is unique. What works for one does not always work for another.
Puppy and group training schools can also:
- Be confusing and potentially intimidating for your puppy
- Make it difficult for your whole family (including children) to be involved
- Reinforce negative socialisation habits
- Lack long-term value since training is not in your dog’s natural environment
We find most people that try to train their dog with a book or video end up confusing themselves and their dog! And although good dog training resources do exist, there are just as many poor ones.
What’s more, every dog is an individual – even two dogs of the same age and breed can have completely different dispositions. That’s why any one-size-fits-all approach you find in a book or video won’t necessarily work.
Many people are surprised to learn that we don’t use treats to train dogs.
We believe that if you need to bribe your dog, you don’t share a positive and respectful relationship. A good pat and plenty of affection with the right management and direction should be all you need.
Yes. Individual training is far more effective than group obedience training for the following reasons:
- It allows the whole family to be involved – including your children
- Training can be tailored to your dog’s temperament and your needs as the owner
- Training in your dog’s natural environment is more realistic and relevant
- Dogs are more relaxed and learn more quickly when not around other dogs
In many cases one 90 minute lesson may be all you need to establish a solid foundation for the long-term. It doesn’t take much to train a puppy when you have the correct advice.
Adolescent or adult dogs that are displaying difficult behaviours may need more than this.
No. Dogs often need us to be firm – but that’s completely different to being harsh.
People only tend to resort to harsh methods when they are frustrated due to a lack of understanding. At AUSDOG however, we don’t get frustrated because we understand dogs.
And let’s not forget that every dog is an individual. Some dogs need a firmer hand while others benefit from a more gentle touch. We’ll assess your dog correctly to determine the best approach.
Absolutely. We have yet to see a dog we can’t get to walk on a loose lead after training with us.
This is a common myth. De-sexing your dog will not improve behaviour. Good behaviour comes from good training and ongoing management.
Do you really believe your dog will sit there, reflect on its bad behaviour and think ‘I must not do that again!’? Of course not! Moving the problem does not fix the problem.
Teach the dog. Don’t punish it.
Dogs can be taught new behaviours at any age. In fact, we help train many adolescent and adult dogs with complex behavioural issues and those that are not adjusting well to change.
But of course, the earlier your dog begins training, the better.
Yes. We attend to a least 15 dogs every month with severe separation anxiety. It can be fixed if you follow our instructions. In most cases one consultation is all you’ll need.
We do not recommend this type of training because you need to learn and practise how to handle your dog yourself so that it respects you as its master (not a third party trainer your dog will never see again).
Unless you are involved in the training, your dog is likely to revert back to its original behaviour within weeks.
Dogs around babies and children
When your new baby arrives, you are not likely to have the time to indulge your dog as you once used to. This can leave your dog feeling unsure and ‘put out’ by the whole experience.
But it is possible to get the balance right for your family if you go about it in the right manner.
Ideally you should establish the correct training and management well in advance of your baby’s arrival. But if you have already bought your baby home and the difficulties have begun, get professional help before things get worse.
Under no circumstance should your baby ever be left alone with a dog.
Even if you trust your dog 100%, there are simply too many variables at play. That said, it is still imperative to learn how to condition and manage your dog to reduce risk.
It is critical that children and dogs respect each other.
Dogs are pack animals, so they need to know the correct pecking order. If you don’t establish this early, your dog will determine its own position in the pack – which could be dangerous for your children down the track.
Children must therefore learn how to train and care for their dog to reduce risk and stress for all.
Young children and dogs should always be supervised when together.
Sadly, children are bitten by their family dog way too often. In fact, more children are hospitalised in Australia each year from dog bites than car accidents.
Dog bite incidents are often a direct result of ‘over-humanising’ dogs or due to unaddressed behavioural problems. For example, overexcited dogs that jump out of control can frighten young children and cause injury without intention.
Every family must understand how to manage their dog around their young children. That’s why simple common sense and the correct advice are so important.
Caring for your dog
There are more dog food brands on the market than ever before – varying greatly in quality.
At AUSDOG, we strongly recommend that you choose a premium brand. Although premium food can seem more expensive at first, poor quality food could cost you a lot more in vet bills and stress in the long run.
If your dog has special dietary needs, please consult your vet.
We recommend you walk your dog as often as possible.
However, try to avoid getting into a predictable routine as it can be difficult to maintain. Dogs have a very good inbuilt clock and will be disappointed if they do not get their 6 o’clock walk.
As a general rule, aim for around six 20 minute walks per week. Vary walk times and locations.
And finally, be mindful of walking in hot weather as pavements can burn the pads on dogs’ feet – or potentially overheat dogs’ vital organs (especially for small dogs that are very close to the pavements).
Although we love the idea of off-leash parks, many dog owners don’t follow the rules and councils don’t enforce them.
So if you decide to take your dog to an off-leash park, do it with caution. If your puppy or dog gets attacked or intimidated it could traumatise your dog for life.
We recommend a good mix of both – depending on your dog, the climate and your lifestyle.