One of my favorite things to do is to read. I read books on everything. I read books on dogs, relationships, psychology, fiction, and business.

One book that I read a few years back was “7 Habits Of Highly Effective People,” by Steven Covey. I personally thought the book was okay but I loved the title.

I always thought that a great title for a book would be “7 Habits Of Highly Effective Dog Owners.” I thought that it would be a great title because I have worked with dog owners that were highly effective dog owners and all of them followed the same basic steps.

In fact, for years I have been teaching that…

In Order To Have A Good Dog Your Have To Learn To Be A Good Dog Owner.

On Saturday I got to work with a great little lab puppy. He was a lot of fun to work with. The owners, who I have known for a long time (I helped them train their last dog who recently passed away) are perfect examples of this principle.

Here are the seven habits all good dog owners have in common:

1. Training

All great dog owners spend some time training their dogs. Training is the best way to communicate with your dog. Your dog has no idea that they are not supposed to pull on leash, to not jump on guests, or to come back when you call them.

2. Exercise

Our dogs spend a lot of time waiting around for us. We go off to work, we’re busy, we have appointments to keep, and our dogs are just hanging out waiting for us to do something with them.

Dogs are extremely social and want to interact with us. Every dog needs two forms of exercise – mental and physical.

3. Good food

Not all dog foods are created equal. Feeding your dog a good diet is very important. Look at some of the labels on dog food. Some of them are loaded with chemicals, dyes, sugar and low grade products.

Just last night I had my niece and nephews over for dinner. Just spending a few hours with them I could see the effect food had on their behavior. The same holds true with dogs. A poor diet can result in bad behavior and poor health.

4. Leadership

Dogs are social pack animals. They survive by living together in packs. In order for that pack to survive they need to develop a social structure with a leader. When you dog comes into the house, you need to become the pack leader.

By becoming the pack leader your dog will know where they fit in. Becoming the pack leader does not mean that you have to be forceful. It simply means that you need to control the activities that are important to your dog which are sleeping, eating, playing, and social contact.

5. Play

Dogs live to play. Ever watch a group of puppies together? It is one of my favorite things to do. A group of puppies will jump, run, tug, and have a great time together. Playing with your dog is a great way to exercise and bond with your dog. It will also fulfill an important need in your dog.

6. Management

Good management skills are crucial. When a dog is young they usually get into a lot of trouble by chewing, stealing, jumping, etc. The owner, as the leader and teacher, needs to manage the dog’s behavior when they are young. As the dog gets older and learns how to live with we humans, we do not need to manage as much.

Take for example my niece and nephews that were over last night. My niece Caitlyn is nine years old. She is a very sweet little girl and does not need to be watched every second like my two year old nephew Fenway.

(That’s his real name. He was born the year the Boston Red Sox finally won the World Series after 84 years and my brother named him Fenway.)

7. Patience

Some of the best dog owners I know are the ones who are patient. Having a dog, especially a young one, can be very trying.