TORONTO, February 15, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - Canadian families have gone to the dogs! According to a recent poll by Dog Chow®, 90 per cent of owners consider their four-legged companions to be members of the family. And membership has its privileges, since nearly 20 per cent celebrate their dog's birthday, and 40 percent go by "mom" or "dad" to their furry kin. With this new found family status, our dogs are included in more family outings and activities than ever before. Whether it's the daily routine or special activities like Family Day or March Break, it's clear Canadian families consider their canines to be a key member of the pack. As the family dog gains more prominence in our homes, it's even more important for training and care to be a family affair.
"Dogs can have many roles in the family and household, whether they're playmates, protectors, helpers or confidantes," says Jill Skorochod, 'Canada's Dog Trainer' and owner of Time & Patience Training. "However, we can't forget that he is also a dog and needs proper training and care in order for the family to happily live together. I have worked with thousands of dog owners, young and old, and found that success is achieved by involving every member of the family - from feeding to walking to grooming."
Not sure where to get started? Jill Skorochod and the experts at Dog Chow offer the following helpful tips:
Family Commands & Paws-sitive Reinforcement: When training your dog it's important that everyone in the household agrees to, understands and uses the same glossary of family commands to ensure positive behaviour is reinforced. This will reduce your dog's confusion and help him learn how to live with each member of the family. It's also important for all members of the family to reward good behaviour (listening, sitting, staying), and correct unwanted behaviour (chewing, barking, pulling on the leash). Use treats or kibble and lots of praise to communicate and encourage the dog to be a good family member.
Involve the Kids: Encourage kids to take on the responsibility of feeding, walking, or brushing the dog where appropriate. To ensure feeding is consistent Jill recommends choosing food that offers a complete meal in every scoop, such as Dog Chow or Puppy Chow, so there is less measuring and confusion. And when it comes to kids "it's important to position them as leaders, not litter-mates or siblings, to ensure the family dog obeys and respects every member of the household."
Furry fitness: Exercise is good for the whole family - especially the four-legged members! When out and about, take turns holding your dog on the leash, and get him or her to "heel". Most children can safely control a dog on a leash by age 10 - but it does depend on the size of the child and the size of the dog. Younger or smaller children can also help hold the leash under supervision. Bring some treats or dry kibble to reward your dog when he responds positively to your training. Try exploring different areas of the city, parks or trails, and always be on the lookout for activities that can include the family dog. It's important that your dog is comfortable in public places and with other dogs - and this allows you to include your dog in more aspects of your life.
"Simple and easy routines give everyone a role in the training and care of the family dog, and result in a happy, healthy, well-mannered pup that's ready to participate in family activities." says Jill.
Yes, Canadians Love Their Furry Family Members
Find out more on how the family dog measures up across the country:
Family Goes to the Dogs: Atlantic Canadians lead the pack in considering their dog to be a family member (94%), followed by Ontarians (92%), Quebeckers (90%) British Columbians (91%), Albertans (86%), and those in the Prairie provinces (85%). A staggering 94 per cent of women consider their dogs to be a part of their family versus 87 per cent of men (just below the national average).
Playmate or Protector? No longer just man's best friend, almost of half of respondents described their dog as "playmate" (48%). Doggie playmates are number one in Quebec (55%) with Atlantic Canada (52%) and Ontario (47%) not far behind. Not surprisingly, more men then women consider their dog a playmate, coming in 10 per cent higher (53% versus 43%). "Protector" ranks second for Canadian dog owners at 20 per cent - this goes up for women (24%) but drops to only 16 per cent for men. Other descriptors include confidante (8%), companion (6%) and helper (4%).
Happy Birthday Rover: Of the 20 per cent of Canadians who celebrate their dog's birthday, more women than men (22% versus 17%) recognize, (and remember!), the date.
Doggy Moms and Dads: 40 per cent of dog owners consider themselves mom / dad to their dog. This drops slightly too only 30 percent for male respondents and increases to 46 per cent for women. Provincially, Atlantic Canada and Ontario are the highest to consider themselves pet parents, with 55 per cent and 43 per cent respectively.