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Site Seer: Fetching an obedient dog from the Web

Pawprints long August 14, 1997
Web posted at: 11:09 a.m. EDT (1509 GMT)

From CNN Interactive Writer Donna Freydkin

(CNN) -- Your dog may be your best friend, but he may behave much like your worst enemy. Dog training can help you know and understand your pet better. If enrolling your dog in training schools doesn't fit your style or your budget, fire up your computer and become a self-trained expert in canine obedience.

Most of the dog training sites on the Web offer similar information on overcoming common behavior problems and training your pet. Most offer general information and avoid getting into specific, complex training techniques. All stress, however, that while the causes of many behavior problems are relatively clear, overcoming them requires a great deal of patience, consistency and positive reinforcement.


A good starting point for aspiring dog trainers is the ASPCA, which provides general information on pet behaviors. Covering everything from mouthing to spaying and neutering, the ASPCA can help shed light on some basic behavioral bloopers. Unfortunately, the site offers few freebies, since most of the dog training guides are for sale. However, the ASPCA does respond to questions via e-mail and on its helpline. Call (212) 876-7700, ext. 4357, between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays to talk to trainers and pet behavior counselors. The counselor I spoke to at the ASPCA behavior helpline was forthcoming and helpful, providing some realistic suggestions on how to keep a dog from mouthing. (She suggested stopping tug-of-war games, not letting the dog win, and teaching him "ouch" or "easy" to know when to ease up).

Likewise, you can dash off an e-mail to, along with your name, phone number and mailing address. I was pleasantly surprised when an ASPCA counselor responded to my e-mail with a personal phone call. Not only did the counselor ask me detailed questions about my dog's breed, age and playing habits, she went on to patiently answer questions and make innovative suggestions for curbing aggravating housetraining problems. She also promised to send helpful materials in the mail.

Dr. P's Dog Training site, a jewel of canine information, is provided by a psychology professor who specializes in animal learning and behavior and who describes himself as passionately interested in dog training. Dog owners will navigate through a wealth of well-organized articles and Q&As covering everything from housetraining to doggie punishment to proper playing techniques. If Dr. Plonsky doesn't offer the actual article, he links to the site with the information.

Dr. Plonsky is nothing if not thorough. He covers everything from the history of dogs and canine intelligence to scientific information on learning and the senses. Whether you're buying a puppy and are unsure of which breed to select, or you want to play Frisbee with your dog, Dr. Plonsky's got you covered.


Did you know that filling a hollow "bye-bye" bone with treats such as beef jerky or cheese and giving it to your dog before you leave home can prevent so-called separation anxiety? Rover will be focused on the treats, instead of your departure. Such easy and innovative tips for solving doggie problems fill the Canines of America Web site.

This attractive, easily navigable site, by one of New York's largest dog training organizations, is loaded with interesting, witty and conversational pieces to aid you in reforming your dog's bad habits. The site deals more with curbing specific bad behaviors, such as excessive barking or chasing cats, than actual training tips. I particularly enjoyed the article on housetraining, which I found to be a concise and thorough guide. Not only does the author clearly define the problem, he proposes some unique solutions and ideas to train your dog quicker and keep both you, your carpet and Fido happy. If you want more information, join the live chats or take part in the online behavior seminars.

Perfect paws

If your dog walks you instead of vice versa, or if she decides that your bed is her personal playpen, check out the plethora of articles from the Perfect Paws Dog and Cat Behavior and Training Center to help you solve and overcome a wide assortment of common behavior problems. It's loaded with articles on every kind of dog behavior. The site is especially helpful to puppy owners, as it deals extensively with proper training and socialization techniques for young dogs.

The articles do a great job of explaining why dogs behave the way they do. Did you know that most destructive chewing occurs just before the owner returns home, when the dog is anxiously awaiting for you to walk through the door? Especially insightful is information on a particularly pesky problem -- housetraining an adult dog.

American Dog Trainers' Network site offers up several thorough articles on topics ranging from curbing aggression in dogs, to selecting a dog trainer, to realistic tips for training Rex. The navigation, however, is a bit confusing. One of the most practical and useful topics covered involves teaching dogs to become good canine car passengers -- particularly important for those of us who see our car as our second-best friend (after Rover, of course).

If you work full-time or are frequently away from home, you'll find the tips for hiring a trustworthy and qualified dogsitter very useful. If you don't discover the answers to your doggie difficulties, go ahead and call the Canine Resource and Referral Helpline at (212) 727-7257, between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. EST. When I called, the pleasant counselor provided constructive ideas to help my dog stop his mouthing behavior; she suggested playing fetch with a soft toy or hide-and-seek with a favorite toy or treat.

After you've transformed your dog into a docile companion, see if he passes the American Kennel Club's Canine Good Citizen certification program. The 10-point test of dog obedience measures who holds the leash in your household.

If you're still not convinced about at-home training, the Dog Owner's Guide features a detailed checklist of what to look for in a dog training program. You can learn about training equipment, definitions of dog-training buzzwords and what to watch for when you're observing a class.


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