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Training Diaries: 5 Commands Your Dogs Should Know

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One of the first questions we had to ask ourselves before we embarked on our mission to train our dogs was, "What do we want our dogs to know?"

The answer to that question will vary for everyone and will depend largely on what type of activities you want to do with your dogs. For example, our dogs spend more time at home with us than the normal pet, so many of our "must know" commands are focused on "common courtesies." For this reason, the first things I teach my own pets – no matter what breed or age – is the “drop” command and “easy” command. These commands are very important to me on a personal level because:

  1. I don’t want them picking anything up off the ground that I didn’t give them
  2. I don’t want them to snap food from my hand, possibly causing injury.

While these are important to me, there are other commands that are also important. No matter what your situation, whether you're seeking the coveted "Canine Good Citizen" certification or just hoping you can take your dog into a public park without an incident occurring, these are the top 5 commands that all dogs should know:

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Socializing Your Rescued Dog

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Dogs, like humans, are social creatures, so interacting with other animals will help keep your pet’s mind active and their demeanor gentle. Socialization is one of the most important aspects of raising a healthy, happy dog. This time can also be used to help strengthen relationships with other people, for both the pet and the owner. Even if you have an older dog, there are groups who are committed to helping you get him socialized. It's just a matter of locating the right people! Here are a few easy, inexpensive and very effective ways that you can begin the process of socializing your dogs.

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Training Diaries – the Beginning

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Like many families, we’ve gotten lax in our dog training.  Okay – the truth is, we haven’t gotten lax, we just haven't done it. We are not great trainers, the dogs are not great listeners, and the only thing these three dogs know how to do is sit. And they’ll only do that if I’m holding a treat (they’re onto the whole “I don’t have a treat right now, but I’ll give you two next time” trick), so that doesn’t even work anymore.

There are a lot of reasons for my lack of training. First of all, my dogs are kind of like celebrities (see The Rescue Rap) and celebrities don't like to be trained. (Relax, that was all meant to be funny). And also, up until now, they have mostly been pretty good. Sure, they have a few problems, but it's nothing we haven’t been able to live with. Also, I'm not good at training and I know that about myself, which makes me want to avoid it. Finally, we had a lot going on that was out of our control during our dogs' “formative” years.

Bottom line is that despite having two of these dogs (Brock and Bree) since they were a day old, and Cheiss since he was only a few months old (see Herding Cats for his rescue story), we never invested our time in training. Worse, largely due to my profession as a pet writer, and their status as celebrities, they have become incredibly spoiled dogs...

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Training Diaries: The Dogs and the Door

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One of our training goals this month included trying to keep the dogs from rushing the front door.

The front door is an interesting place for our pack and I imagine it is for every member of any home. We each view it differently and to stop dogs from rushing the door, we must first understand how we all view the door.

I view the door as an object that separates our home from the outside world. It’s represents a transition from chaotic to calm. It's a source of comfort. When I arrive home and see that door, I know that I’m back with my pack. However, I also view it as a threat. It’s a place of entry for bad people, a way for solicitors to annoy me when they can’t seem to read the simple “No Soliciting” sign.

Brock and Bree view the door as a magical portal into wondrous worlds; a world where unicorns prance through fields of green and fairies dance around daisies as they toss dog treats into the air and race around with squeaky toys while chanting, “Come play with me!”

Cheiss views the door as a threat – a place that must be patrolled, much like Arizona views the border of Mexico. Cheiss is the metaphorical border patrol and guards the door jealously, seeking out UPS men and solicitors who threaten his domain. It is a port of entry where uniformed men drop off what could be potentially be life-ending boxes of items. The only way he can stop this activity and drive the threat away is to bark incessantly and lunge at the window.  As soon as he does this, the bad people leave. If Cheiss could fly drones over the door, he probably would. If he knew about drones. And if he could operate a remote control.

This week is about changing all of our perspectives. We started with the twins’ perspective of unicorns and rainbows and treat-toting fairies. (We’ll talk more about Cheiss’ “end-of-the-world” perspective in a bit).

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Why Humans Are Drawn to Puppies

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There are very few things in this world as cute as an 8 week old puppy.  Even people who don’t care for dogs or fear them tend to gush over puppies. I’ve witnessed the toughest of guys and the most squeamish of girls melt at the sight of a puppy taking a nap or rolling around on the floor. The word most often associated with puppies is the word “cute” and it’s obvious why. The large eyes and soft mouths are hard to resist and I myself can’t help but blow raspberries on their bare bellies.

Experiencing Puppy Love

What exactly is it about a puppy that makes us feel an extremely strong need to nurture them? Why do we adopt puppies when we know that they are going to chew up our shoes and piddle on our carpets? If you have ever trained a puppy, you know that it is hard work and puppies require a lot of attention. All the same, we put up with their antics and cater to their needs.

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