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Why dog and horse training is so important...

dogs horses Feb 03, 2021
Equiculture, picking up a hoof.

I don't know how we would get by with Bryon to entertain us! This is lockdown number three in the UK and it is definitely the worst. We do not know when it will end and the weather is pretty poor. We can still exercise outside though. At some we will be able to do all the things that we love again, we just have to be patient.

Byron is learning sit and down, up and stand. We have also stated recall with him, probably the most important thing a dog can learn.

He still cannot go outside 'on foot' as he has not yet finished his vaccination shots. We take him out most days in the puppy rucksack (but he hates the rain!). He is seeing lots. We have also been introducing him to things such as the vacuum cleaner, hair drier, electric toothbrush, food processor, fireworks on YouTube (there is one just for dogs!) and anything else we can think of.

He is taking everything in his stride. Probably because he had an ideal start with his breeder. With both his parents and his littermates, he was in family home, with children, lots of noise and bustle, warm and well-fed. He is probably the first dog we have owned that has had such a good start.

The world of dog training is very exciting these days. We have always had 'well behaved' dogs, probably this was helped by us being able to spend a lot of time with them and I have always enjoyed training (horses and dogs).

On the whole, currently, dog training is in front of horse training, in terms of positive reinforcement. Of course, there are still lots of poor and even cruel dog trainers around and there are lots of brilliant, forward-thinking horse trainers around, but generally, the dog world is ahead of the horse world.

Where we currently live (a market town in Northern England) it sometimes seems as if every second person owns a dog (in fact, statistically, I think they actually do). Dogs are allowed in pubs, cafes, there is even a dog cafe called 'Kibble' in town (obviously none are open at the moment due to lockdown). This means that dogs need to be well socialised but also that (normally) there are plenty of opportunities to socialise dogs.

Almost every dog owner that you see around town carries treats with them for rewarding/training their dog. You did not see this so much even 10 years ago.

I firmly believe that all domesticated companion animals need to have a certain level of training if they are to be happy/less stressed and SAFE in our human-dominated world.

With horses, teaching them to be safe to handle, by yourself and other people, is imperative. They should accept being touched all over, having their feet handled etc. They should also be taught to load into a horse trailer/truck and to travel without fear. An owner might say 'well my horse/s will only ever be handled by me' or 'I do not intend to travel my horse/s so they do not need to be taught to load and travel'. But your horse/s may have to be handled by someone else one day, travel to a vet or they may need to be evacuated in the case of an emergency such as fire/flood/storm etc.

A dog needs to accept being handled by different people (think vet visits), needs to accept other dogs nearby (especially if you live in a built-up area), needs to walk on a lead 'in self-carriage' (i.e. loose lead walking - so that it is pleasant for both dog and owner) etc. Most of all they need a good recall so that they can have the freedom to run off lead but can always be called safely back.

Currently, I am reading TOTAL RECALL: PERFECT RESPONSE TRAINING FOR PUPPIES AND ADULT DOGS by Pippa Mattinson. This book is a whole book about recall! I will let you know more when I have read it.

This pandemic plus climate change has and continues to show us how things that we took for granted can be taken away. You never know when your circumstances might change. Illness, job loss and bereavement etc. can all alter your circumstances dramatically and rapidly. So 'hope for the best but plan for the worst' when it comes to long term care of your animals.

Of course, you can plan to give your animals a forever home, but if something outside your control happens to you then a well-trained, well-behaved animal will be far easier to rehome than one that is not. Thinking like this is not morose, it is simply being practical and facing facts, that way we can do the best for our animals as they do for us.

Take care and stay safe...

Jane xxx

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