I’ve had family dogs, where the responsibility of training, walking and caring for the animal was shared among four people, but Zarra, my red heeler, is the first dog I can completely call my own. She’s spastic, energetic and, as her name implies, bizarre. When I first adopted her, I thought my previous experience raising dogs would be enough to reign in her crazy, but after a few months her behavior immediately alerted me that I was very, horrifyingly, wrong.
I constantly struggle to stop her from violently shaking her leash in an excited fit, and although I love the sound of her beautiful voice, her infatuation with barking is infuriating.
On the bright side, she is wicked smart, has more personality than three dogs combined and is the perfect snuggle companion when she’s not attempting to thrust me from the bed with tiny outstretched legs.
All this hassle led me to a moment of brilliance where I thought, why, I work at a library, don’t I? We have a dog training collection, don’t we? Then why don’t I check myself out some much-needed books that will enlighten me on how to reign in my fiendish friend?
And that’s what I’m here to tell you, all of you pessimistic people out there thinking of getting yourself a puppy this summer, or even adopting a dog from Second Chance. Make sure you properly equip yourself to handle your rowdy pup, and be sure to do it while they are still malleable little innocent beings unlike my red furred friend.
Okay, I want a dog. Where do I start?
“Choosing the Dog That’s Right for You” by Sam Stall
“Choosing the Dog That’s Right for You” goes over every canine breed and their individual quirks. At first, the type of breed you’re thinking of adopting might not seem important past looks, but trust me, it’s very important. This book covers factors you probably weren’t even considering, like known health issues and activity needs. Stall covers everything you’ll need to know from the amount of time you’ll spend caring for a Yorkshire Terrier’s hair, to the awful watch-dog ability of the overly friendly Huskie, to the loud and overactive personality of the Jack Russell Terrier.
Okay, I got my dog, What now?
“Good Dog! The Easy Way to Train your Dog” by Sarah Whitehead
This is a quick and easy-to-use book packed full of useful pictures and one-page training guides. I flipped through it multiple times, using the images to remind myself of the step-by-step process of whatever training technique I was currently working on. The pictures are extremely helpful, and it covers a wide range of tricks from the simple sit to the complex rollover.
I want more training!
“The Love That Dog Training Program” by Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz
Where “Good Dog!” is simple, “The Love That Dog Training Program” is detailed, thorough and complex. Sylvia-Stasiewicz sets up a day-by-day training schedule for you to follow over a five week-long course. Although I didn’t apply the Sylvia-Stasiewicz program, I do wish I’d had the opportunity when I first got Zarra. Instead, I found myself flipping through this book and using its troubleshooting section in an attempt to fix my dog’s behavioral problems while implementing its cookie sit and stay training techniques.
More! More! More!
Columbia Public Library has over three shelves of books on dog training, and I highly recommend coming in and checking them out whether you have a troublesome pup on your hands or are thinking about getting yourself one.
Good luck! Be patient!