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A hound in the house

This article first appeared in "Dogs Life" magazine and is reproduced here by kind permission of the author, Karin Larsen Bridge. She is president of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers Australia and part owner of Get S.M.A.R.T (Successful Motivation And Reward Training) Dogs in Sydney - a dog training school specializing in positive training classes for pet dogs. She is a Delta Accredited Canine Good Citizen (TM) Instructor who writes and lectures frequently on dogs and dog related issues such as positive training methods, behavioural problems and responsible pet ownership.

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A growing number of canine behaviourists and trainers recommend that pet dogs should be allowed inside the family home on a regular basis. It is not necessary for your dog to have full run of the house. If you prefer, your dog only need access to a well-frequented area such as the kitchen or family room where the pack gather to watch TV or chat. There are many reasons why allowing your dog into the home is a good idea.

Inside dogs exhibit fewer behaviour problems - outside dogs are more likely to exhibit serious behaviour problems associated with boredom such as excessive barking, destructive chewing, separation anxiety and self-mutilation.

An easy way to train - your dog is learning from you every minute you are together. This give the inside dog who shares your home a great advantage quickly learning what leads to attention, cuddles, car trips, walks and treats. Even without any formal training, the inside dog will probably learn to fit in very quickly through observation and experience. Compare this to the amount of feedback the outside dog is able to glean from the relatively small amount of time you and your family spend outdoors.

Dogs are social animals - They have a strong need to belong to and interact with, other members of their pack either canine or human. If your pack spends most of its time inside your home, that is where your dog will want to be.

Better protection - a dog inside your home is a much bigger deterrent to an intruder than an outside dog and much harder to deal with.

If you dont have a philosophical objection to having a dog in the home, it is likely that your dogs behaviour or physical attributes are keeping him at bay. The fact is millions of dogs around the world have successfully learned to share their owner's homes, be they tiny city apartments, suburban mansions or national palaces. A little training and clever management can soon resolve any problems.