Tired of a mannerless dog? It can be trained into amazing pal

Dogs have become a part of life of many families and institutions. With their natural wit, charm and loyalty, they add pomp and colour to life. As a responsible dog owner, you want to establish some round rules between you and your dog. You want to raise him to have the right behaviour in front of other people and dogs. You don’t want him to throw tantrums for no apparent reason. Neither do you want him to pee or poo all over. You can achieve this through proper training. Karuri Mugoi, the Director for Shaka Kennels which offers training services for dogs in Kikuyu, Kiambu County says training can be started at any age. It builds confidence, provides mental stimulation and strengthens the human-animal bond. According to Mugoi, dogs that have anxiety or timid personalities can benefit from training.  It provides a sense of accomplishment and provides a way for us to communicate with our four-legged family members. This strengthens the bond we have with our dogs through positive attention. Mental stimulation is an important part of a dog’s overall well-being.   “When it is too cold or rainy outside, going through basic training skills indoors can be the exercise our bored dogs need.  Or if your dog must limit exercise due to an injury or after a surgery, mental stimulation is necessary to keep them occupied,” says Mugoi.

Right age for training 

cute small dog standing on two legs and looking away by the window

When puppies are between the ages of 6 to 16 weeks they are in an ideal developmental stage to socialise them to all aspects of our world - new people, dogs, cats and locations. Young dogs will go through an adolescent phase between 8 – 18 months when socialising and training can be important tools to keep them friendly and happy as they go through the “teenage years”. How and what to feed these furry creatures is critical for their overall health, training and productivity. Mugoi notes that nutritious, well balanced food and clean water should form the basis of their daily diet. He feeds his two Cocker Spaniels and 7 German Shepherd Dogs on chicken head and broken rice that is first cooked and allowed to cool down since dogs’ mouths are sensitive. The preferred method of training is positive reinforcement.  This consists of rewarding your dog for doing something “right”. Simple command include sit, stay, sleep, stop, attack and release.  Rewards can be tasty treats, a favourite toy or praise.  Training methods that use punishment can cause the “bad” behaviour to get worse or even lead to aggression.  

Benefits of training your dog

According to Mugoi, some of the benefits of training your dog are: to raise a well-disciplined dog, satisfy your dog’s instincts, develop the dogs’ intellect, create a mutual relationship between dog and owner and develop mutual respect and trust from your dog. Additionally, proper training makes your dog sociable and forms a solid foundation for more advanced training. Most training is done to instil in the dog obedience, agility, alertness, courage etc.  If your dog has mastered sit and stay, try something new. To get it right with training, seek the help of a professional trainer. 

[Dr Paul Kang’ethe, [email protected]]

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