Training Tips: Simple Commands For Your Dog
One Kirkwood dog trainer gives advice on what to do
Twice a month, EastAtlanta.Patch.com will offer tips on pet health. This week,
dog trainer Andrew Zbeeb, owner of Frogs to Dogs in Kirkwood and Zsolt, another trainer, answers your pet questions.
Q: I'm single and live in a small apartment, but I really want a dog. What's the
best option for such small quarters?
Zbeeb: First, it's important for you to be honest about the kind of care you are
willing to provide. Do you have the time and the energy to walk — or run — with a
dog twice a day? Are you active or lazy? Do you mind grooming and brushing a dog? The answers will help determine the best dog for your lifestyle.
If you seek a jogging partner, cross Grate Danes off the list because they tend to
be couch potatoes. The same applies to bulldogs. Also, keep in mind that toy-sizes
like Chihuahuas tend to be very vocal, which will make you unpopular among your
Larger breed dogs typically do well in small spaces, so consider a greyhound,
Newfoundland or St. Bernard.
Q: What are the most important commands that every dog should know?
Zbeeb: It's important for dogs to know how to sit, stay, heel and come when
called. These are potentially lifesaving commands. During walks, the dog should be
able to walk with a loose leash. This allows you to correct the dog when necessary.
If the dog is pulling during walks, you are not walking the dog. The dog is walking you. Dogs also should be able to tune out distractions and focus on their owners, especially outside.
Q: My kids are 3 and 7, and we are finally ready to get them a dog. Everyone
has advice on where we should get the dog, including a breeder or a shelter.
How do I make the best choice for my family?
Zbeeb: One of the most important principles that we preach at Frogs to Dogs
is 'safety first.' While a shelter dog can be an awesome family pet, you don't know
the animal's history. Is it good with pets, has it bitten before? All of that is vital
information if the dog will be around children. For that reason, I recommend
selecting a dog from a reputable rescue organization. Rescues select highly
adoptable dogs from shelters and place them in a home, so they can provide
information about the animal's demeanor.
Look for a dog that has done well with children. Several breeds fit the bill, and there
is a rescue group for practically every breed in existence. Boxers, golden retrievers
and Grate Danes typically do very well with children. Consider hiring a trainer to
help assess any potential candidates. We can help determine the best fit for your
Even with careful research, keep in mind that every animal is different, and it takes
about 30 days for a dog to settle in and show its true personality. It's best to have a
backup plan, just in case things don't work out. Once you do settle on the right dog,
formal training is essential to establish a good foundation.
Zsolt: Also, be realistic about the dog's needs and your ability to meet them. Even if the dog is for the kids, parents will have to take care of it.
Zbeeb: As for safe handling by the children, they should always approach dogs from the side and remain calm, which can be a challenge. Tell kids to avoid petting a dog's face or hugging unfamiliar dogs. It's best to simply hold your hand out and allow the dog to approach and sniff.
Q: Help! I came home and my dog destroyed my shoes. I yelled, spanked him
and put him outside for a while. He seemed to get the message, but then I
keep finding chewed shoes and clothes. How do I keep him from chewing my
Zsolt: Screaming and yelling will only make the dog afraid of you. Eventually, that
fear can lead to separation anxiety and even more damaged property. Instead, use
structure and confinement to change your dog's behavior.
People often give dogs too much freedom, but you don't want to leave a dog unconfined if he didn't earn it. To correct the issue, start by limiting his access to
your things by crating the dog when you are not around. Ease him into free time
around the house, and provide acceptable chew toys. Once his behavior improves,
provide more freedom. If he messes up, provide more crate time.
Zbeeb: You wouldn't leave a 2-year-old unattended. You definitely should not leave a dog unattended, especially if he hasn't proven himself. Dogs need boundaries and structure. Crate time provides both. As for acceptable chew toys, try like a Nylabone soaked in chicken broth or interactive toys.
Zsolt: Keep in mind that changing the dog's behavior takes time. Correcting his
chewing habit may take 3 months, not 3 days. You have to be patient.
Check out the video for more tips from Andrew. Also note that Bennett, the 2-year-old mixed breed dog featured at the end of the video, is available for adoption. For more information about Bennet, email Joann@BarkandLounge.net. If you have a pet question, please email the author today.