A lot of my human friends seem to be struggling with the following question:
“What should I expect from my dog when it comes to manners and good canine behavior?”
For me, that is a loaded question. I hate to talk badly about my own kind—but there are a lot of dogs out there with no manners at all! They jump, they lunge, they bark and whine until you can’t stand it. Others simply choose not to listen to their owners at all.
I, on the other hand, should be a model citizen in the manners department. I was born and bred in England, land of politeness and civilized behavior. My manners aren’t abysmal, but they’re not stellar. Don’t judge me too harshly. I am, after all, a Beagle with a boat load of Beagle tendencies that sometimes get the best me.
In order to tease out this issue of canine manners and get some real answers, I went to the experts; the American Kennel Club publication, Citizen Canine and two of my favorite trainers at the Green Beagle Lodge, Angela C. and Ryan B. Here’s what I discovered:
“Good doggie manners are all about self-control” explained Ryan, “for example, no jumping for attention, no begging for food, no pushy behavior or pulling on the lead.
Angela added, “A well-mannered dog is a receptive dog that is willing to give a human their attention.”
In the book, Citizen Canine by Mary R. Burch Phd., 2010, the top ten behaviors that indicate good canine manners are the following:
- Acceptance of a friendly stranger with no signs of aggression, resentment or shyness.
- Polite sitting for petting with no signs of resentment or shyness.
- Acceptance of grooming and examination
- Walks nicely on a leash with no pulling or tugging
- Can walk through a crowd politely without jumping or encroaching
- Sits and lays down on command and stays in place
- Comes when called…hugely important practical skill!
- Behaves politely around other dogs
- Exhibits confidence but no overreaction to distractions
- Maintains training and good manners during supervised separation from owners
The experts seem to agree that “adequate socialization is the key to owning a dog that is happy, well-adjusted and eager to meet to people”. Angela adds, “the earlier the better in a dog’s life.” In general, un-socialized dogs lack the canine social graces and basic manners that are critical for them to interact with fellow members of their species mostly because they have never been exposed to normal doggie behavior. Ryan adds that, “90% of the problems with dog behavior is attributable to their human owners who allow the bad behaviors to take place because of laziness, lack of knowledge or anthropomorphism.” (attributing human behavior to things that are not human…in this case dogs!)
I had to do it. I asked Angela and Ryan for a short list of the most annoying behaviors they deal with daily in their work with my canine brothers and sisters. Their list of ugly behaviors includes excessive barking, jumping, mouthing, begging, stealing, pushing through doors or gates and general non-compliance.
Good canine manners are important for a dog to function in society similar to a child with good manners functioning in a family.
Angela summed it up for me like this; “Manners are not hard to develop. I suggest three important tenets to all dog owners: Always be consistent with boundaries, establish consistent routines and consistent words, exercise…exercise…exercise and get some help with the training if in doubt. The 1st level of training is always for the humans anyway!”
The human that practically invented the notion of manners, Emily Post, once wrote, “Good manners reflect something inside – an innate sense of consideration for others and respect for self.”
Translated to apply to my canine friends it might read, “If you can’t learn to behave properly with other dogs and humans, you might as well stay in your dog house.”
Here’s one mannerly challenged Beagle aspiring to greater things!