Dog Training Advice from a Dog Lover

dog1It’s hard to resist a cute, furry creature, isn’t it!? This is my dog, Bella. She looks well behaved in this photo, but she isn’t always so! A still photo usually can’t capture the essence of her enthusiasm and orneriness. Before Bella, my family had a very smart Border Collie, Laddie, and before him, a big friendly black Labrador Retriever, Louie. Laddie and Louie came to live with us as puppies and neither had bad habits that we had to deal with and train out. Just about everything they would learn, good and bad, came from us.

We adopted Bella when she was 18 months old, and she came to our home with lots of baggage and bad habits. Neither Louie nor Laddie were allowed on the furniture, but Bella wasn’t going to be denied comfort! She was very determined and climbed on the sofa, and no matter how many times I pushed her off, she jumped back up. We battled. Training was imperative for us to live together!

Had I not expected her to be like her predecessors and researched more about her breed, I would’ve known that English Springer Spaniels are often “Velcro” dogs. They really like to be with their people –being so close that they cling. More important than being on the sofa, she wanted to be on me! Springers also have a fun-loving nature and like to play. Bella loves being chased and she likes to ruffle her hair on her head and her ears so that we laugh at her.

Knowing the traits of a dog’s breed is important to help them live happy lives. Bella also likes to spring birds from bushes (hence the name “Springer”), so she enjoys our backyard where there are plenty of bushes that birds hide in. She’s not a retriever, so she doesn’t play fetch with her Frisbee, but she is most often carrying it wherever she goes. Louie was a wonderful retriever and would play fetch for hours, especially swimming after toys in a lake, even to the point of making his muscles quite sore for a few days! He also had a penchant for remote controls and chewed up a couple. Laddie, being a herding dog, taught himself to herd a soccer ball and would dribble it with his front paws, making it roll wherever he wanted. He was also a 4H obedience and agility champion who figured out how to open doors and sneak his favorite food, butter, off a table.


If you want to know more about your dog, or are thinking of welcoming one into your home, the Library has a large section of books with wonderful stories about dogs (my favorites are by author John Katz), various breeds, and books on training written by experts in the field.  I highly recommend Love is all you need : the revolutionary bond-based approach to educating your dog by Jennifer Arnold. She is the founder of Canine Assistants, a service-dog school in Georgia. The book is giving me tools that are helping me bond better with Bella, which is making her a happier and more well-behaved dog.

Stop by the Ask Here Desk on the 3rd Floor and staff will be happy to assist you in finding books and other resources to give you lots of information on how to train your dog. They might also share some of their experiences with their own dogs!

-Jennifer R.