NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

January 10, 2014

Paw Prints: New year, new habits

(Continued)

Consulting with an experienced dog trainer can get you off to the right start. Remember to be consistent, so that Fido understands this is the way he has to walk when he is on the leash.

Teach your dog to greet you — and others — on all fours. Your pooch may be delighted to greet people, but jumping on them is bad manners. Bend down to give him love, hugs and kisses. Just make sure he knows you’re unhappy when he jumps up. Dogs recognize dozens of human facial expressions. So a frown with a clear “Off!” followed by praise when he’s on the floor is all it takes. Be consistent, and he’ll get the idea.

A common mistake is for people to use the word “Down!” to discourage jumping, and then to use the same command when the dog is standing but is supposed to lie on his tummy. This is very confusing for Fido, as dogs do not understand duplicate meanings for words.

Some families like their dog on the furniture, and others do not. There is no right or wrong, just personal preference. Be consistent, so that Fido understands what is expected of him.

Fido should let you trim his nails. Ask your groomer or veterinary team to show you how to do this. Like us, some dogs have ticklish feet, and he may need to be desensitized. If he makes a ruckus, then start with baby steps and teach him one nail at a time.

Start by handling his feet — very briefly at first. Do this before mealtimes, then give him lots of praise and feed him. Go slowly, and he should learn that having his feet and toes handled is nothing to worry about.

Likewise, it’s important that your dog let you handle his ears. Ear infections are common in canines, and regular cleanings and inspections by you are important for his health. If Fido resists, try the same technique as described above for the feet.

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