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Raising and Loving a Well-Behaved Dog

Advice and tips from experts

Having a pet [especially a dog] can bring a person the kind of joy and companionship that can be life-changing. But taking care of man’s best friend can be challenging and overwhelming, and that’s when proper training becomes a necessity.

We checked in with some local dog experts for some tips on how to help your pooch stay happy and well-behaved now and for years to come.

Lori Heeren: Executive Director, Nevada SPCA

What’s your best advice for people looking to bring a new dog into their home?

While our biggest goal is to get an animal into a loving home [and the right home] as soon as possible, we want to make sure that the adoption sticks and the animal is not returned to us. We would often tell people interested in an active puppy that if they don’t have the time and they are not going to spend time training the animal, it would not be the right fit for the family. Animals are a commitment and a responsibility. They are not a novelty; you have to commit to potty training and behavior training.

Does every dog need training?

No, it’s really an individual decision depending on the breeds. For example, I had a 10-year-old pit-bull mix that appeared on one of the TV appearances, and he was an older dog — which tend to be calmer. He was well behaved. That’s a dog that was ready to go. He’s potty trained and was not going to require any training. But we do have a lot of other ones, the puppies especially, that will need some training to be a good fit for a family. Many times, animals don’t work out at home because they are just not a priority. If you are not going to commit to training your animal, then it probably won’t work out.

Do you have a good training story that stayed with you?

We once had a dog that we pulled from another shelter. He was a Queensland Heeler and was with us for almost three months. He was a cattle dog, so he was really active, and getting him out the door was hard. Then, when we put him on TV, a man saw him and gave him the best home. The dog now splits his time between the man’s boat in California and here in Las Vegas in a huge home with a large yard. We have even gone out and visited with him, and he’s living his best life.


Cathy Brooks: Life Coach and Canine Behaviorist, Unleashed Leadership    

What is the core philosophy of Hydrant Club when it comes to dog training?

I always tell people that we help dogs with their humans and help humans to be better humans in the process. Specifically, we support creating, growing, and maintaining balanced, healthy, and happy relationships for dogs and their people, taking that relationship above and beyond anything that a dog owner could ever possibly imagine.

Is there such a thing as the most difficult breed of dogs to train? Or does it depend on each dog or each owner?

As one of my mentors says - I've never met a dog whose human I couldn't help. 

Saying that a dog's behaviors are because of its breed isn't entirely inaccurate. Man systematically bred dogs over thousands of years for specific tasks with behaviors related to those tasks. So, the biggest issue is people who get dogs that are a mismatch for their personality and lifestyle and then unreasonably expect the dog to adapt to their life. That is flawed logic. We don't get to love dogs the way we want to love them. We get to love them the way the DOG needs to be loved to be happy. There is good news in that scenario, though. If the human is teachable and willing to do whatever it takes to support their dog, then the dog's behavior can be resolved. 


Tegan Ortega:  Co-owner, Lucky Pup Dog Training / Training Partner, Vegas Pet Rescue Project

What advice do you have for dog owners who are having challenges training their dogs? 

My best advice would be to strip everything back to basics. Begin with setting your pup up for success. I often have families calling me about their puppy chewing, climbing on counters, or even making a mess in the home. My question is, would you leave your 2-year-old child home alone with unsupervised access and without a diaper on and expect them to make good decisions? Just like with toddlers, we do not expect good choices just yet. Instead, we must manage them.

Begin by puppy-proofing your home, and pick up anything that may be a hazard. Make sure you are always supervising your puppy. If you cannot, then make sure your puppy is in a space where they are safe and away from temptation until you return.

My suggestion would be a crate.

How would you describe a “well-behaved” pooch?

A well-behaved pooch, to me, is one that provides companionship. One that understands its job within a household. I don’t necessarily mean a working dog-type job; instead, the job is to hang out and be your buddy, and when you ask him to do something, he does it. This can be achieved with your pup too.