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January 12, 2013

Experts offer tips for new dog owners


While we’re on the subject of a dog’s needs, they also require more than a smattering of attention, play and affection. 

Puritz was asked for tips on housebreaking a dog. “Do not let it out of your sight,” she responded. “If the dog is soiling in the house, that’s because it’s out of your sight. So, if you watch it all the time it’s inside the house, your dog won’t have the opportunity to go behind the couch and piddle.”

She added frequent walking to the “do” list, specifying that dogs should be taken on jaunts when they wakeup in the morning, as well as after playing and after eating. 

One more item on the Puritz “do not” list is punishing an animal for an offense too long after the fact. A canine needs to be disciplined right after a mishap so that it knows what it did wrong.    

A different perspective on dog training was offered by Karen Miller, a certified professional dog trainer. Miller owns and operates Town & Country Canine, in Jefferson. Her approach to training is reward-based. 

 “You reward your dogs for doing the right things,” she explained. “You prevent or manage them from doing the wrong things.” 

Miller gave an example of the reward-based system being used to stop a dog from jumping up. “You need to keep your dog on a leash and teach it to sit,” she said. “It’s called teaching an incompatible behavior. You want to teach it what to do instead of what not to do.”

So, rather than punishing the dog when it jumps, a reward-based trainer will give it a treat when it does the desirable thing, sits in this case. The sitting position prevents the dog from jumping for a moment. 

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