Voice: Train your dogs to be god citizens

April 06, 2002

The recent dog mauling in San Francisco and trial and subsequent "Our Opinion" by the Imperial Valley Press have focused the attention on the danger of owning a "tough" dog the need to confine and control and the danger of "training them to be mean."

Responsible dog ownership is not just to confine and control your dog once you feel that he is a problem. People need to be aware of breed characteristics, how big a dog will be once he is mature and how much space he needs, among many other types of helpful information.

They also need to know resources available to them throughout their community, such as: local veterinarians, kennel clubs, breeders and trainers. Most importantly, they need to take action to properly socialize and train while the dog is still a puppy.

I have been training dogs for over 25 years. I can tell you that owners with aggressive or out-of-control dogs, for the most part, did not intentionally train them to be that way, nor did they know that they should or could start training and socializing their dogs while they were small and easily managed puppies.


Unfortunately, as problem behavior develops slowly, the realization on the part of the owner develops overnight. Suddenly the cute little puppy is over 6 feet tall on his hind legs and weighs over 120 pounds!

Dog owners need to be aware that many insurance companies are now refusing to insure homes where certain breed dogs are owned.

There are also more and more cities across the country that are passing dog specific legislation or ordinances, that place additional requirements to those who choose to own breeds that the individual cities consider a danger in public. Unfortunately, as in most cases, the actions of a few are suffered by many.

The American Kennel Club, in response to increasing concerns, now offers a canine good citizen test, which some insurance companies are accepting as proof that a dog is suitable to be carried on a homeowner's insurance policy.

An American Kennel Club licensed tester administers the test. As I have told my students/clients for years, "Never tell me your dog is stupid, because intelligence runs down the leash." Dog owners have a responsibility to themselves, to their community and also to fellow dog owners and breeders across the nation to train their dogs to be canine good citizens.


El Centro

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