One might suppose from the surprise and astonishment expressed, on the relation of examples of the extraordinary sagacity, instinct and reasoning powers of the dog, that these gifts were bestowed by Nature only on the favored few ; whilst the majority of canines were fnr beneath the level of ordinary brutes and actually incapable of instruction, denied the privilege of ranking among their more favored brethren. This impression however is not altogether groundless, considering how few persons there are, who take into consideration the evils, to which they are personally subjected, through the lawless multitude of untutored quadrupeds, with which the whole country is infested, or who pause to imagine the benefits which might revert to themselves, did they contribute their share, towards ameliorating the condition of animals, who are ever willing to serve and doubly blest in obeying.
Mr. Smith envies Mr. Jones, because Mr. J. is the owner of such a well-behaved, intelligent, respectable dog, and wonders where he got the breed. Mr. White can't imagine how his neighbor Green could have taught his dog so many curious tricks, and is anxious to get a puppy of the same stock, which of course he expects will educate himself, at a very early age.
My object is to prove that it requires but a small amount either of time or labor, to rescue even the meanest mongrel from a life of degradation and misery and place him in a position, where he may be respected for his virtues and appreciated for his worth.
The most important points to be considered in the training of a dog are first: to understand somewhat of his natural disposition and temperament. Secondly: not to exact too much of him at once. Thirdly : to use as little force as possible. Fourthly : always to insist on obedience and never to pass unnoticed the slighest act of insubordination. Fifthly : begin your instructions as early as possible.
(The pup is never too young to learn, especially to do wrong, if left to himself.)
The principal causes of so many dogs being spoiled in the training may be traced to their having been taken in hand too late; having had too many masters, from the indecision or severity of their instructors. The moment a dog is known to fetch, three or four objects are thrown at once, and every acquaintance amuses himself in putting the abilities of the animal to the test ; he is consequently puzzled, considers it only a play-game and becomes remiss in his duty to his master. Just so with any of his other performances. He is perhaps allowed to follow a variety of persons, which often tends to lessen his attachment and obedience to his real owner, at the same time allowing him favorable opportunities of committing a variety of acts, which he dared not dream of, in his master's presence. A dog then to be rightly trained, should be under the sole management of one person ; he should be allowed to do nothing without his master's knowledge and consent. He should be expressly habituated to all kinds of company, hogs, cows, dogs, goats, sheep, chickens, etc, so that he may be firmly checked by his master, should he attempt any wanton attacks on others of the animal kingdom, at the same time that he may be taught to rid himself of all fear of their presence by occasionally associating with them. The earliest impulse of a canine, that has any pretension to pluck, is to attack the first animal he sees, whilst all dogs, either with or without evil intent are inclined to pursue every living creature that runs from them. This inclination can either be encouraged or checked, either speedily annihilated or cultivated, to suit the will of the trainer ; therefore it necessarily follows, that as soon as a dog has a will of his own, it should be well directed or immediately curbed. If he be old enough to eat, he is old enough to be made to let it alone ; if he be old enough to come when called and go away when he is bid, he is also old enough to know his place, and be made to stay there, till he is wanted, (at least in his master's presence.) But in these early lessons, we must be extremely careful to keep in perfect good humor, and to let our punishments be very light; as there is not only great danger in forcing too much on weak intellects, but in inflicting too much on youthful pets. Let your lessons be light, easy, short and pleasant. If your pupil tires, adjourn the meeting. By consulting his feelings, he will be more apt and willing, will delight in your teachings and long for their repetition.
Half a pound of encouragement, two ounces of decided disapproval, a quarter of a pound of patience and two ounces of gentle correction, form an excellent mixture as a basis for canine instruction. I have trained many dogs for my own private use, and I confess they have caused me anything but trouble ; they have been all extremely apt, docile and willing. I do not attribute this to their superior intellectual proportions, neither to any inborn sagacity of my own, but merely to a method of consulting their inclinations and exciting their wills, thus rendering their toil a pleasure, their studies a sport. The teachings, (as I often observe) should be short, often, and regular. A quarter of an hour twice a day will be of more effect than two hours three times a week. The best place, (for early lessons especially) is in a yard or moderate sized enclosure, as the animal will be far more obedient, where he has no chance of escape, and his attention will not be diverted by other objects. He had better also be taught alone, until he is well advanced, as I have observed dogs to be very shy at first in performing in the presence of others. The Trainer should also appear very joyous when the student does his duty. This has a most astonishing effect; as dogs (being no hypocrites themselves,) judge entirely from appearances, and look one right in the face, which to them is the unerring index of the mind. When you unchain a dog to give him a lesson, always let him have a good romp first, (if he please), as he will generally be uneasy, if you omit it,consequently less attentive to your instructions. If possible, never allow any one to help you teach him ; he will readily digest the commands of one, whilst a second method is apt to puzzle him; besides he will always be more tractable under one instructor, and will far more readily obey the teachings of his master. Any strange system of management will only tend to diminish his attachment and obedience. By these remarks, I do not mean to infer that a man is bound to train his own dog, neither that an animal might not be better educated by two persons, than by one only, who in a measure either neglected him. or treated him improperly; but, that the animal is the more easily managed, when directed by one head, and owned solely by one master. With regard to Sporting Dogs, I consider it advisable that they should be trained rather by regular Sporting men, than to be spoiled by a youthful Greenhorn. A regular Breaker is better enabled to give him constant practice in the field of his future labors, than the occasional Sportsman, in whose keeping he may become addicted to bad habits. Another thing, he should, if convenient, be raised in the country, where he will become more healthful, vigorous and hardy ; that is to say, unless the owner should have other means at hand of securing to him that 3anitory exercise, indispensably necessary to his perfect physical and mental development. Dogs in some respects are like children. Show me a dozen genteel children raised in the city, pampered with delicacies, exercising themselves in the nursery, carefully cloaked and india-rub-bered. on the slightest fall of the barometer, thus fattening the Doctor and Apothecary at the expense of their delicate constitutions. Compare with them a dozen Rustics. Who will throw a stone the farthest, climb a tree, quickest, or stand toil the best? Just so with animal nature in other forms. Again, I repeat, wholesome food, plenty of air and exercise arc the principal ingredients necessary to frame a ha: dy and enduring constitution, and the safest antidotes against degeneration and disease.