Pet or Pest?

How to be a Good Dog Neighbor

Having a dog for companionship and love can be a delightful experience. How your dog behaves is a reflection of your own sense of civic responsibility and consideration for others." Love me, love my dog" is what all dog lovers would like, but how lovable your dog is depends on the kind of training and care he receives from you.  A little extra effort on your part will teach you dog to be a good neighbor and not the neighborhood pest. Ask yourself " Would I want my dog living next door to me?"

If you get a puppy, start training immediately while his habits are in the formative stage. If you get an older dog you need to allow both time and patience to train him to adjust to your lifestyle. All the time you spend teaching, training and playing with your dog will be well spent and your neighbors will appreciate it in the years to come.

1. Teach your dog to be obedient and well-behaved. A good obedience class is the place to start. I highly recommend group learn how to train your dog and the dog learns good social behavior and how to get along with other dogs. These classes can run anywhere form 8 to 12 weeks normally. Check the phone book or your veterinarian's office for a local obedience club, kennel club or recommended school. If you can't get to a class,perhaps the dog training school will recommend someone who will come to your house to help you. Many clubs have puppy kindergarden classes for very young pups....these are ideal for an early start!

2. If you must walk your dog, don't let him soil the neighbor's property or plants. Curb your dog and pick up after him. Carry a plastic baggy, just in case. Dog owner's who allow their dogs to soil the property of others are not making friends for themselves or their dogs by this thoughtless act.

3. Keep your dog on your property. "Good fences makes good neighbors" - must have been written for dog owners! If you don't have a fence, keep your dog on a lead or under voice control.

4. Don't let your dog bark excessively. There are few things as hard on nerves and tempers as listening to a dog barking, whining, howling or moaning for hours on end. Yet this is what some dog owners force their neighbors to endure. This goes for apartment dwellers, as well. To cure this bad habit, teach your dog to stay quiet in a room or crate while you are home and slowly extend the sure to praise good behavior. If your dog is in the backyard, a pen or a kennel, he can become bored and start barking at anything that comes along. Bring him in with you and keep him with you except to go relieve himself. If he has to be outside during the day, provide him with something to do......dogs are NOT mindless creatures! A buster cube with food in it, a hollow bone with peanut butter or cheese in it are two examples of "puzzling" and fun activities for your dog to do while home alone. ( This is good for apartment dwellers , too, and add a radio or TV for a little background noise.)

Just remember that how dogs and "dog people" are perceived is our responsibility. We do not need any more confining laws, we need more considerate dog owners!

Authored and contributed by Sandra Fikes-Kalahari Ridgebacks