Happy dog, happy owner

Romeo running on sand cropped

Romeo (photographer Susan Papazian)

In this section, you will find:

  • Socialisation is very important!
  • Train the dog, train the owner
  • Child – pet relationship
  • More resources

Socialisation is very important!

Dr Joanne Righetti, PhD Animal behaviourist, explains that socialisation is the process of introducing a young animal to all the events, in a positive manner,  that they will encounter throughout their lives. This process is vital to ensure that the animal accepts these encounters and regards them as positive whenever they experience them again.  Neglecting to introduce your young dog to a wide range of people can have devastating effects later on.

According to Dr Jo, knowledge of learning and behaviour can be useful throughout the animal’s life.  We can then continue to give positive learning experiences at home. Behavioural knowledge can aid in training, where some behavioural patterns are fixed eg. salivating over food and others can be modified eg. sitting in response to a stimulus such as food. Motivating the dog with praise is a powerful reinforcer, the dog associating the behaviour with a reward.  More about socialisation and dog behaviour from Dr Jo.

Train the dog, train the owner

According to Dr Joanne Righetti, almost every dog and owner, can benefit from a little training.  Training can help:



  • Understand your dog – what motivates them and to what extent they respect you
  • Improve on all canine behaviours around your home
  • Treat behavioural problems
  • Build a better bond between you and your pet

Some of the problems that are commonly relieved by incorporating training into your relationship with your dog include:

  • Barking problems
  • Dog-to-dog aggression
  • Hyperactivity – jumping up, excitable
  • Pushy dogs – want the sofa or your attention
  • Separation anxiety
  • Toileting problems

Where there is a behavioural problem, training can be invaluable on the road to recovery. For best results, get the help of an expert who can help you design the best form of training program for you and your dog.

Child – pet relationship

According to Dr Katrina Warren, a large number of pets, particularly cats, being relinquished to welfare shelters, citing the arrival of a new baby as the reason. Many of these relinquishments are based on inaccurate information depriving both children and pets of a potentially long and happy relationship.  Dr Warren says that while children and pets can form wonderful relationships, unfortunately, not all childhood experiences with pets are positive ones and research clearly shows that children in the 0-4 age bracket are at the greatest risk of hospitalisation for dog attack injuries.

We Are family’- nurturing the child and pet relationship’ is a comprehensive guide produced by the Dog and Cat Management Board.  The guide covers:

  • Preparing your pet for the baby’s arrival, which includes a Pet Planner Checklist
  • The first six months (after the baby’s arrival)
  • Baby on the move (toddler stage)
  • Dogs, cats and their body language
  • Zoonoses

The guide says don’t allow your child to:

  • Play roughly with the pet
  • Tease or hurt the pet
  • Handle the pet inappropriately
  • Grab the pet around the neck
  • Wrestle on the floor/ground with the pet

More information from We Are Family.

More resources

Dog health and well being Dog behaviour and training

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