Above: How NOT to do a dog intro. (This is not Audie, btw)
Disappointingly, in both classes, dogs were allowed to stare at other dogs (you've seen it, a hard eye stare) and to run up to other dogs, face to face, nose to nose.
I’d momentarily hold my breath and hope the recipient of a rude greeting didn’t decide to correct his classmate with a growl or worse for such a blunder. Because of this, I thought about ranting on about how beginning dog training instructors need to teach their students about the language of dog before showing us how to teach our dogs the language of people. But instead, let me share five lessons that another instructor taught us that could potentially save your dog’s life.
• Teach your dog that all good things come from you. This includes his meals and toys. Teach him to allow people to handle the food in his dish and to take toys away. How many toddlers would walk up to a dog, take his toy, and try to stuff the dog’s stuffy toy into their own mouth?
• Teach your dog that grabbing his collar is a load of fun. You never know when grabbing that collar might save your dog’s life and you’ll want him to think it’s just another great game of “grab the collar”.
• Teach your dog to wait. A dog rushing out the front door could end disastrously.
• Teach your dog a “watch-me”. A dog checking in with you is a dog paying attention to you.
• Teach your dog that friendly strangers really are friendly. And if your dog sits for them, they might be even friendlier.
Watch for video to come. We’ll gather up a few of the Michael Vick dogs to demonstrate and show-off these lessons they’ve learned now that they’re settling into real homes and given the opportunity to live real lives.
And in the meantime, for all of us who teach beginning dog training classes, please teach your students a little about the language of dog and show us how to be leaders. You’ll be helping us keep our best friends safe while ensuring their place as a treasured member of our families.