A lot of my time is spent discussing how dogs should behave. Is barking good or bad or both? “How do I stop the bad barking, but still feel safe? After all, that’s why I got a dog in the first place,” is a frequent conundrum for dog owners. As a trainer, I’ve discovered that the gold standard for having a “trained” dog to have a dog that knows “sit,” “down,” and “stay.” These behaviors are considered “basic,” and most owners stop teaching new things once they’re learned. But…are these the things every dog should know? I think there is so much more. Here’s my list of what every dog should know:
- They should know that they are loved wholly and unconditionally, all of the time.
- They should feel safe, both in their home and in public, no matter who or what is around.
- They should know how to play with people or dogs or both.
- They should know they have the ability to say, “No” to things that are being done to them.
- They should know how to be creative and inventive.
- They should know how to relax.
- They should know it’s okay to dislike things.
- They should know how to get attention when they’re feeling lonely.
- They should know what the stuff they see outside the window smells like
- They should know what some of yummy stuff they smell in the kitchen tastes like.
Allowing a dog to own their own life is a difficult balance. Our modern world and pet laws make their world confining and regulated. They can never fully be free, the most loving thing we can give them is some flexibility.
Since skills are still the hallmark of a well behaved dog, here are my top 10 skills every dog should know:
- Saying a dog’s name means “Look at me.”
- “Come” means, “Get to me quick and good things will happen.”
- A human palm is something to touch with your nose.
- “With me,” means, “We’re walking together.”
- “Wait,” means, “Wait here until I say it’s okay.”
- “Stand,” means, “Please stand still so I can do things to you and keep you comfortable.”
- “Down,” means, “We’re going to be here awhile, get comfy.”
- “Leave it,” means, “I’ve got something better.”
- A knock on the front door means, “Sit while people come in and give you pets.”
- Putting your chin on a human’s knee will get you attention and pets.
What would you add to this list? Did I miss something every dog should know?