Training Afghan Hounds
By Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2013
Are Afghan Hounds easy to train?
No, training Afghan Hounds is quite a challenge. Sighthounds have a complex and independent personality somewhat like that of a cat. They have their own ideas about what they want to do and how they want to use their time. When you try to get them to do anything YOU want them to do, you may be in for a struggle.
Domino is a typical example. I met Domino, a male Afghan Hound, when I was called in for behavioral consulting because Domino would not walk on the leash. Now, I don't mean that Domino was hauling his owner around on the leash – no, I mean that Domino wouldn't walk at all. He would brace his legs and refuse to move.
This is classic sighthound behavior. Passive resistance. And because sighthounds are both physically and emotionally sensitive, training Afghan Hounds requires a light hand on the leash. Encouragement and praise works for some Afghan Hounds; however, many individuals have little desire to please and so don't care a whit about praise. Food works for some Afghan Hounds, but it's not a good idea to depend on food for training important commands, which must be based on respect if you hope to have your dog obey you when he's not hungry.
Training an Afghan Hound like Domino required gentleness, patience, coaxing....and tough love in the form of persistence. This isn't always easy, which is why Afghan Hounds can be so challenging to train.
Yet some Afghan Hounds are more willing than others, especially if you approach obedience training sessions as a sort of playful game. Some Afghan Hounds, in fact, are quite the clowns, once they feel secure enough to relax and let their hair down (so to speak!).
So when you ask, "How easy is it – training Afghan Hounds?" my answer is, "Usually it's a challenge, but it depends on the temperament and personality of the individual dog, plus your own dog training skills."
That's where I come in. Keep reading my dog training articles (and hopefully buy my book, "Teach Your Dog 100 English Words") and I will help you train your Afghan Hound to be well-mannered and well-behaved. I've been working with dogs for 35+ years, as a dog trainer, canine psychologist, breed advisor, and author of 15 books about dogs.
Dog Training – What Works, and What Doesn't
Some dog training methods are based on what makes the OWNER feel good, rather than what on actually makes sense to the dog. For example, "positive-only" dog training is a big fad right now. Now, treats can be great motivators for training Afghan Hounds, but if your dog will only obey for a treat, then HE is in charge of his obedience, not you. [read more]
Here are my dog training tips for training Afghan Hound puppies and adult dogs:
Keep your Afghan Hound on-leash. Afghan Hounds are hunting dogs who will chase anything that runs. Yes, certainly you want to teach your Afghan Hound to "Come" when called – you must work hard on this – but count on this command being most useful when you're calling your Afghan Hound inside your fenced yard. An unleashed and unfenced Afghan Hound who is in pursuit of a squirrel will ignore your Come command and could be hit by a car. Afghan Hounds are not an off-leash breed.
Provide the right exercise. Your Afghan Hound needs a large, safe, enclosed area where he can gallop once a day for 5 or 10 minutes. Then he will be ready to curl up on the couch. Long on-leash walks won't do it. Forced jogging or biking won't do it. Sighthounds need to be able to stretch out and gallop in a large safe fenced enclosure.
Teach your Afghan Hound puppy that he cannot chase your cat or small dog. Sighthounds have powerful chasing (and grabbing) instincts, and these must be quashed right from the beginning if you want to keep smaller pets safe. In fact, when you have small pets, I recommend not allowing your Afghan Hound puppy to chase ANY living creature (squirrels, rabbits, birds). "No" is the very first word in my book, Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It is essential to teach this word correctly when training Afghan Hound puppies to live peacefully with smaller pets.
Teach your Afghan Hound puppy to respect you. Respect is the key to training your Afghan Hound to be well-haved. [read more about Respect Training]
Teach the right words to your Afghan Hound. My method of training Afghan Hounds includes teaching specific words in specific ways so that your dog not only learns the words but also develops the respectful attitude that makes him happy to obey you. You will need to work especially hard on "Come." [read more about teaching words to your Afghan Hound]
Stop searching for dog training tips for each behavior problem. Honestly, one of the most common questions owners ask me is: "How can I stop my dog from doing (some specific behavior)?" They're hoping I'll tell them where to find a secret button on the back of their dog's head that will trigger a MISBEHAVIOR-OFF switch. :-) Alas, my answer is almost always the same, no matter what the misbehavior is. Here it is.... [read more about stopping dog behavior problems]
Start training your Afghan Hound puppy the moment you bring him home. But you need to teach the right things in the right ways. If you use the wrong teaching method, your puppy will begin making decisions about how he wants you to fit into HIS life, and that's a recipe for conflict and behavior problems. Here's my recommended schedule (what to teach, when to teach it) for training your Afghan Hound puppy. [read more about training Afghan Hound puppies]
Start housebreaking right away. But expect it to take a few months. [read more about housebreaking Afghan Hounds]
Socialize your Afghan Hound puppy with strangers and other pets. Afghan Hounds can be standoffish, and if you don't teach them early on to be friendly and trusting toward people they don't know, their natural caution can become skittishness or suspiciousness. With other dogs, Afghan Hounds are usually very good, but they were bred to hunt other animals, so most Afghan Hounds have strong instincts to chase and seize small fleeing creatures. This can make for conflict if you own a cat, although most Afghan Hounds who are properly raised with cats do live peacefully with their own family cat. [read more about why your dog acts the way he does toward strangers and other animals]
Copyright © 2000-2013 by Michele Welton. All rights reserved.
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