People love to tell me how lucky I am to have a good dog like Wiley. But they’re dead wrong—there was no luck involved. Wiley’s good behavior and good temperament are products of four years of hard work, nothing else. The more people who understand this, the more people there will be who have “good” dogs too.
A Good Dog Is a Socialized Dog
A big reason Wiley is calm around other dogs, kids, loud motorcycles, gunfire, parties, and you name it is because I put a lot of effort into exposing him to those things during the critical first few weeks after he came home. And because I continue to allow him to explore those circumstances on his own terms.
A Good Dog Is a Well-Trained Dog
Wiley’s built like a pit bull—85 pounds of pure muscle. As a strong, confident leader among dogs, he’s always had an issue with pulling. I dealt with that a long time ago by encouraging him to walk right by my side, with slack in his leash, through the usual praise-and-reward program. But he’d only do that for me. The second someone else grabbed his leash, he’d pull them off their feet.
A Good Dog Is an Exhausted Dog
A few months ago, my friend Evan asked if I could help some friends of his with their dog. They were first-time dog owners and had adopted a shiba inu puppy. Their issue? They just couldn’t figure out what command would make her be calm and behave.
A Good Dog Is a Dog That Trusts You
Like any relationship, your relationship with your dog is built on trust. Dogs understand the concept of fairness, can read your emotions, and depend on you for virtually everything. Develop a good relationship with your dog, and you’ll be able to rely on it, too.
A Good Dog Is a Lifelong Process
I didn’t stop exercising Wiley when he became an adult. I didn’t stop training or socializing him, either. I don’t forget to feed him, or neglect the quality of his food, or leave him at home when I go do fun things. Every single day since he came home a little over four years ago, I’ve devoted time and effort to him. Wiley is as important a part of my life as my job, family, or friends.
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