There are a few things I think of as foundational experiences for dogs. These are things that I feel all dogs (pets) should absolutely have an understanding of and have positive experiences with.
I think ALL dogs (who are family pets) should be exposed to being put in a crate or a kennel.
While I think crate training is a good thing, I do understand some people object to the concept, but I would argue that this can come back to bite the dog in the butt. If your dog has never been in a crate or has only had bad experiences in a crate it can lead to dangerous situations. Fido decides that it’s a great idea to eat three pairs of socks… they aren’t coming up the way they went down and they certainly aren’t going to make it out the other end–this means Fido is going to have to go to the vet’s office for surgery. Possibly before and definitely after surgery Fido will have to be crated… if Fido only has bad experiences in the crate or have never been crated there is a real risk of him panicking as he comes out of anesthesia. This panicking can lead to ripping out sutures and stitches, pulling out I.V.’s, injuring themselves while flailing about, and cause a bite to whoever may try to get Fido out of the kennel if he has hurt himself. Want to compete in dog sports? Most competitors crate in between events to assure down time and relaxation (plus the handler can move about more freely). If you are planning on flying with Fido… he’ll have to be crated. Want to stay at a hotel, most require that the dog is crated if left in the room. Want to board your dog while you go on vacation, although many now have larger “suites” and have a lot of out of kennel time, the dogs still have to experience some confinement in kennels (or you pay more for more up-scale boarding facilities). Poor Fido slips on ice and tears his ACL (not rupture), the orthopedist suggest 2 weeks rate rest (the only time the dog walks is to go potty)… if he panics in his crate you risk a full rupture and a $3000 surgery. If all you do is expose him to crates in a good ways until the pup isn’t worried about the crate, that will help him not panic if he were to find himself in one at some point.
All dogs should be desensitized to wearing a muzzle.
Well, as an owner of a dog who is incredibly sensitive to anything on her face, this is something I am super guilty of NOT doing but has been on my list of things to do for ages. If Shayne were to severely injure herself some how and was clearly in a lot of pain, chances are my vet, no matter how safe he knows she is, would likely want to put a muzzle on her. When a dog is in severe pain they are much, much, more likely to bite and vets generally don’t chance it. If my vet were to just slap a muzzle on Shayne, I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised if she absolutely panicked and flailed around freaking out (possibly further injuring herself or at the least making it nearly impossible to treat her injury). As a trainer, there are dogs that I would love to be able to use and suggest a muzzle with as an immediate management tool, but since most dogs are not happy about wearing muzzles, the family must take upwards of a week to desensitize the tool (which in some instances keeps the family at risk). I know this is certainly on my list of things to do… it has been for quite some time but maybe this time I’ll actually get on top of it because I think it is so valuable.
On a side note, I can always some up with something to write about but I want to know what you’d like me to talk about. These are some things that I had wanted to write about… but I’m totally open to suggestions, just leave a comment on the entry or on the poll. Oh, and so I get real results, you can only pick your top two!