Tell your dogs who’s boss

Western Leader - - EDUCATION & TRAINING - MATTHEW CATTIN

It’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks, dog trainer Sa­man­tha Kingston says.

Com­ing from a back­ground in an­i­mal con­trol, the Orewa res­i­dent started dog train­ing to try and pre­vent dis­obe­di­ent pets be­ing un­nec­es­sar­ily sur­ren­dered to the pound.

Spe­cial­is­ing in sep­a­ra­tion anx­i­ety and be­hav­iour in ca­nines, Kingston be­lieves no dog is be­yond teach­ing - but it has to start with the own­ers.

‘‘What they’ve got at the end of their lead is not an­other hu­man it’s a dog, and dogs can do stupid things,’’ she said.

Kingston said a dog’s bad be­hav­iour is of­ten con­se­quence of the owner not as­sert­ing their dom­i­nance over their pet.

‘‘[Dogs] love be­ing part of the fam­ily, but they have to know where their place is, and the way they learn that is how they are re­sponded to,’’ Kingston said.

Own­ers can get it ‘‘dras­ti­cally wrong’’ by try­ing to be nice to the dog at all times, she said, but it should come down to tim­ing. If a dog is able to dic­tate its walk­ing route, when the owner shows it at­ten­tion, and when it gets fed, it can be­gin to be­lieve it’s in charge of the fam­ily pack.

This can lead to prob­lems when the fam­ily goes out for the day, leav­ing the dog to anx­iously won­der where its pack has dis­ap­peared to, Kingston said. Ev­ery dog has the ca­pac­ity to be well­be­haved, she said.

MATTHEW CATTIN/STUFF

Sa­man­tha Kingston is a dog trainer from Orewa.

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