I am most definitely a dog-person. And by dogs, I mean REAL dogs! I don’t like cats, and dogs weighing less than 20kg are just a freaky kind of cat. Let’s be honest… there’s really only one true kind of dog: A German Shepherd or Alsatian. Intelligent, loyal, strong, fast and good looking – what’s not to like?

I am currently on my third GSD. All three have been bitches; all three have been called Suzy. Suzy III, the current incarnation, is trained to the minimum required for a GSD. The two previous both reached advanced competitive levels in obedience and Police Dog competitions.

Having had GSD for the past 30+ years I’ve made my fair share of mistakes and learned a good deal of lessons.

Here are my top 10 tips if you want an obedient and happy dog:

  1. Never punish or scold your dog. If it does something you don’t want it to do, stop it or if appropriate, correct it. If it has already done the deed, forget it. It won’t have a clue WHY you are punishing it, and the only reason it looks ashamed, is because it senses you are angry.
  2. Always reward your dog for coming back to you when called. Even if you have been calling for ½ an hour and now are late for something. Remember 1? If you punish the dog when you finally connect, do you think it will inspire it to come back to you the next time?
  3. You are top of the pack, the dog is bottom. It should always be fed AFTER you have finished eating. That’s the way it is, in a pack.
  4. There is no such thing as a free lunch. Or dinner. When you feed your dog, have it wait and do something for you, before it eats. Sit, go into down position, bark or retrieve… anything really.
  5. You are top of the pack, the dog is bottom. You will always go through a door or gate first. Unless you are sending the dog into a danger zone to do your work for you, of course.
  6. If your home has levels, it’s best if the dog is kept downstairs and not allowed upstairs. You are top of the pack, the dog is bottom…
  7. Irrespectively of 6, there should always be areas where the dog has no access. Living room, TV-room, kitchen, whatever. You are top of the pack, the dog is bottom, and that means among all the other things, that you can go where you want but the dog can’t.
  8. Train your dog regularly, at least while you are out walking, but also organised in groups – preferably with owners of same breed.
  9. Practice and learn to read your dog just ½ as well as it can read you. It will tell you when it’s tired of a particular training exercise, when it’s hungry, when it needs to go out, etc. All you have to do is understand what it is telling you.
  10. Your dog’s love for you and confidence in you as the pack leader is unlimited and unconditional. Do your best to live up to the status bestowed on you and do not abuse it.

Here’s what Ron Swanson has to say about dogs:

Views and facts on what makes me tick