Over the years, there has been a fundamental shift and a more significant increase in people choosing to provide a loving home to Romanian dogs. However, you need to know that they are different, that you need to forget everything you think you know about dogs and training.
If you are prepared to do that, the first thing you have to remember is that it could take upwards of 6 months to settle into your home fully. It could be sooner or even longer, so my advice to everyone is you must be in it for the long haul or do not be in it at all.
From a training perspective, I have worked with hundreds of owners that have rescued dogs from the UK, and I have trained dogs for years but have never owned a Romanian. The first thing to do is leave your ego at the door as the Romanian street dog is not just a rescue dog; you will have to take extra care and take into consideration that these dogs, by in large, have been through unimaginable experiences. Although you think you can sympathise or understand, you really cannot; so many are mentally and physically scared, which will take them a long time to heal. If they ever do.
That said, many of the dogs I work with are open to training, but everything needs to be done at their pace. Training requires trust between you and your dog. Dogs are only responsive to training when they trust you to lead them and make them feel safe. However, this will take time with Romanian dog, it could be weeks or even months, but you must allow them that time before trying to start training.
Unless your dog has already been in a home, they will likely not have had any training, so they will often start the training from scratch. You should start with merely getting a lead on your dog and teaching them to feel confident inside and outside your home.
Always train in a quiet spot in the home with no distractions.
Ensure all training takes place in a secure area or using a long training lead.
Food rewards are a primary motivator but not always for the Romanians, so before you start training, experiment to find out what will motivate them. Your dog may initially seem to have little interest in treats or playing. In this case, take your time before starting any formal training.
Keep training sessions brief 5-10 minutes at the most but repeat regularly.
Start to accompany training with verbal commands; remember your dog may not understand you as they are Romanian. Also, start to add hand signals but make sure they are comfortable with it first.
Please read up on dog body language so that you understand when or what they are communicating with you.
Never train until your dog becomes uninterested or bored; always stop while your dog is still interested in you and the training.
I run dog training classes which are a great way to develop your skills with your dogs. However, some dogs may have problems dealing with large groups of people or other dogs. All training should be fun for you and your dog, so if group classes are not working, then do not worry… it is not the end of the world! Remember, dogs are only responsive to training when they trust you to lead them and make them feel safe.
So, after reading this ask yourself this question “Am I in for the long haul?” I hope so, as, in my experience, these dogs are exceptional and will add so much to your life.
(Written by Paul Daly, Canine Coaching)
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