It’s not a secret that we love dogs at The Graying Area. My dogs spend most of their days in my office with me. And, I can’t help admiring other people’s pups when my wife and I are hiking or walking the rail trails in our area. But on a recent walk, I noticed how much better behaved some other people’s dogs are than my own. It made me think: What are some essential things to teach your manly dog?
So, after some brainstorming, I came up with several things to teach your manly dog. And this list will serve more as a basic get-started-type article for guys who just adopted a manly dog or those considering a new addition to their life. These skills are practical and more about keeping your dog safe and calm than retrieving a beer from the fridge (which is a badass skill, if I must admit it).
You see, manly dogs are often large and full of energy. That energy can scare people who don’t know your dog or anything about dogs in general. Instead of striking fear into the hearts of canine newbies, these things to teach your manly dog will keep them safe and the snowflakes around them from melting.
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Table of Contents
- Things Your Manly Dog Should Know
- Things To Teach Your Manly Dog: How to get out of a vehicle
- Things To Teach Your Manly Dog: Don’t jump
- Things To Teach Your Manly Dog: How to walk on a leash properly
- Disclaimer Time
- Things To Teach Your Manly Dog: How to come when called
- Things To Teach Your Manly Dog: Drop!
- Things To Teach Your Manly Dog: Behave at the Vet
- What other things should a manly dog know?
Things Your Manly Dog Should Know
Obviously, you should teach your dog whatever you want to. And some dogs are easier to teach certain skills to than others. But these basic obedience and behavior commands are, in my opinion, 100 percent necessary for manly dogs (and I’m working on them with mine!).
Things To Teach Your Manly Dog: How to get out of a vehicle
Manly dogs make great partners for road trips, runs to the store, or adventures in the woods. But, if your manly dog doesn’t know how to get out of a car properly, any one of those scenarios can go south in a hurry.
First, make sure your manly dog knows that just because you’re opening your car door doesn’t mean they can leave yet. They should be able to sit in the car and wait patiently until you signal to them that they can jump out.
When you do take them out of the vehicle, always take them out the passenger side or back of the vehicle. The driver side is the one closest to traffic in most scenarios, and a happy dog might jump out with too much gusto, causing a very dangerous situation.
And, since many manly dogs are bigger and prone to knee and hip issues, mind the jumping. If you can, teach them to jump from the floor of the vehicle rather than the seat. It might not be a big deal when they’re younger. But, as your manly dog ages, you’ll be glad they can navigate the lower threshold.
Things To Teach Your Manly Dog: Don’t jump
Realistically, jumping dogs scare the shit out of a lot of people. Going from thigh-high to in-your-face in a split second can cause some people to come unhinged, so make sure your manly dog knows not to jump.
And, think about how much kids love dogs. If your manly dog plants some 4-year-old on their ass because he can’t wait to say hello, you’re going to feel bad, and the kid’s parents will be pissed.
Some manly dog breeds are more prone to jumping than others, but almost all breeds can be taught that it’s unacceptable. One thing to consider teaching your manly dog is to sit down when someone puts their hands up. Putting hands in the air is a natural reaction to being startled or scared, so teaching Fido to park it when Karen loses her mind is not a bad idea.
Things To Teach Your Manly Dog: How to walk on a leash properly
Eighty-five percent of the time, my dogs walk like angels on leashes. The other 15 percent of the time, they’re complete assholes. And when they decide to be the latter, I get worked up, and the whole walk goes to hell in a flash.
Teaching your dog to walk nicely on a leash can make a huge difference in your dog’s happiness and your relationship with them. It’s also a lot less intimidating for some easily-offended person to see your lab or shepherd walking nicely on a leash than it is for them to see the dog’s eyes popping out of their head as they’re choking themselves with the collar.
There is a lot of bad information out there about prong collars. Some trainers hate them, some trainers swear by them. For my dogs, it’s safer for them to wear a prong collar than to damage their throats with their collars.
Could I have taught them to walk better at an earlier age? Considering they were both rescues, probably not. However, I do admit that if you train your dog early and properly, a prong collar probably isn’t necessary. And, sometimes I’ll put the prong collars on them, but leash to their Kurgo Journey harness (available on Amazon).
But if the choice is between not walking your dog because they will cause serious permanent damage to their throats or putting a prong collar on them to promote safe walking, don’t be afraid of the prong collar.
Disclaimer: Inevitably, someone is going to get pissed that I suggested a prong collar. But, when used properly, they’re usually very safe. If you’re an asshole and purposely attempt to tear your dog up with a prong collar, you deserve a special kind of hell. But, the readers of The Graying Area don’t suck, so I don’t think we have anything to worry about here. Here’s the model I use (available on Amazon).
Things To Teach Your Manly Dog: How to come when called
I’m not a big proponent of having your dog off-leash. I did have a dog that was good off-leash, but my own anxiety takes over, and it’s just not worth it to me. I was only every comfortable with him off-leash on our property—never in public. Also, don’t assume because your dog is friendly that it’s okay to have him off-leash: You could be putting someone else’s dog in a REALLY, REALLY bad spot.
But, regardless of what your preference is, your dog should come when called, and there are a hundred reasons why. First, there are times when you’ll see a dangerous situation before your dog does, such as a vehicle coming or a wild animal. Calling them and having them return to you immediately helps keep them safe.
Also, dogs don’t speak Human. Someone might be telling you they don’t like dogs, or their dog doesn’t like dogs, and your dog could still be bounding their direction. You need to be able to get your dog to stop, turn tail, and head back to you in those scenarios.
I’ve taken my dogs through obedience and advanced obedience training, and it’s my understanding that bombproof recall is pretty difficult to achieve. But, with the right trainer and positive reinforcement, most breeds can handle it.
Things To Teach Your Manly Dog: Drop!
Manly dogs are adventurous and curious, and that can lead to big trouble.
Say you’re hitting the trail with your manly dog, and he or she decides to scoop something up off the side of the trail. You don’t know what it is, and you’re worried it could be something harmful. Sure, you could wrestle your manly dog to the ground and attempt to rip the unknown object from its jaws, but there’s a chance they’ll just swallow it. What if you could command them to spit it out?
You can. Teach your dog the “drop” command. I can proudly say that one of my dogs is almost perfectly drop trained, letting go of whatever she has in her mouth the second I give her the command. It’s because she gets a lot of practice… She constantly has a shoe, sock, or something similar in her mouth. She gets a lot of reps.
Drop can be tough if your dog isn’t particularly mouthy. In that case, you might have to teach them to pick something up before you can teach them to drop, but it’s still a skill worth teaching your manly dog.
Things To Teach Your Manly Dog: Behave at the Vet
I’ll be honest; I have one dog that’s a delight at the vet, while the other is a demon. And because he’s a big, powerful dog, it really disrupts the place. But, if you consider that he came to us sick, had to have his tail removed, teeth pulled, and a bunch of other silly things, you might understand why he’s so petrified of the vet’s office.
But, no excuses. He should be better. Especially being that he’s a big, adventurous, energetic dog, things happen. Being able to take your dog to the vet without him becoming a bucking bronco or a snarling moron is important. If an emergency arises, you won’t have a choice.
Before the pandemic, the vet suggested bringing Bruce by for a treat a few times a month. He’d have a positive interaction with people who know and understand him. This was a great idea, but with the way things are now, it’s just not an option. I’m not sure what the answer is here, but we’ll have to figure it out.
What other things should a manly dog know?
Did I miss anything? I want this list to be evergreen and ever-growing so guys can use the page as a resource. Leave a comment below about which skills, tricks, or abilities you think are important for a manly dog to know. You don’t have to be a pro. I appreciate every comment, like, and share I get, so please don’t be shy! What things would you teach a manly dog?
If you know someone who might be interested in this post, or any post on The Graying Area, share a link. Every bit of support helps.
And a special thanks to Howard, Patrick, and Alex for helping me out with some pics of their awesome dogs.