Two Paws Up: Training and bonding with a rescue dog
Today, not only does every shelter have a website, so do all of the breed rescue groups, prison dogs and guide-dog school dropouts. Then there's Petfinder, a sort of clearinghouse that allows you to specify breed, gender, compatibility with children, cats and other dogs, and geographic proximity to your zip code.
We ended up with Lionel, a smallish chow mix whose compelling story on Petfinder (he was left on the side of the highway in his pet carrier) made him seem tragic and deserving. In retrospect, we should have known what was coming; he was high-spirited, completely unsocialized, and, in fact, had never been inside a house or had any training whatsoever. But the raw material was there - he had a very sweet disposition and loved to learn new things.
Within the first week, we enrolled in a good, basic obedience course at WagWag Enterprises. There is really no substitute for this - going to class provides socialization with other dogs and helps the dog learn commands in a different environment than your living room. Plus, when you see all the other canine quirks that your classmates are dealing with, you don't feel so alone.
Dog training theory in the new millennium is all about positive reinforcement, and, as our instructor Lisa explained, is based on scientific, empirical studies of dog behavior. Giving treats and verbal encouragement for good behavior worked wonders with Lionel, who is now not only well-mannered (mostly) but happier.
Other recent titles include:
30 Days to a Well-Mannered Dog: The Loved Dog Method (2010) by Tamar Geller
Train Your Dog Positively: Understand Your Dog and Solve Common Behavior Problems Including Separation Anxiety, Excessive Barking, Aggression, Housetraining, Leash Pulling and More! (2013) by Victoria Stilwell
Chaser, Unlocking the Genius of the Dog Who Knows 1000 Words (2013) by John W. Pilley with HIlary Hinzmann
The Heartbeat at Your Feet: A Practical, Compassionate New Way to Train Your Dog (2012) by Lisa Tenzin-Dolma
Dog Whisperer by Cesar Millan
Home School Dogs by Brian Kilcommons, Sarah Wilson and Jim Mckiernan