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Owning A Dog

Information about owning and training a dog so they will be a canine good citizen.

Dogs are said to be Man's Best Friend.

Here at the Animal Welfare Department, we love dogs, and love to help dogs find good homes with good people.


If you are having difficulties with your pet, Animal Welfare Department is here to help. Call 311 and ask for behavior help and someone will be touch with you.  

Caring for Your Dog

Why train?

  • To teach your dog to be a good canine citizen for the pleasure of your family, neighborhood and community.
  • To deepen the bond between you and your dog, and to increase the enjoyment, companionship and satisfaction of your relationship with your dog.
  • To keep your dog safe and happy.
  • A well-trained dog is a happy dog, and the time taken to train your dog is small considering that the manners will teach him will last the rest of his life. Your reward will be a special companion to share your life with.

What is training?

Training a dog is teaching it to do a job for you. Dogs, by nature, are pack animals with a well-defined social order. When you train your dog, you take the role of pack leader. It is not cruel to train a dog. It is cruel to leave a dog not knowing what he or she should or shouldn't do. Your dog needs to know the rules of the house in order to become part of your family circle and to bond with you. Every breed was developed to do a specific job for people. In our current world the main job for most dogs is to be a good companion. While they may have other jobs such as watching your house or going jogging with you, they are friends first and workers second. All dogs have to be taught to do their jobs. Herding dogs are bred to want to chase animals but must be taught to gather and drive; terriers are bred to chase and kill small animals but have to learn what to hunt and what to leave alone; a retriever must learn to ignore rabbits and to give a fallen bird to a person instead of eating it. Companion or service dogs have to be taught how to do their jobs too. Most dogs were bred to like people but they have to learn to be a good family member and a well-behaved member of the community. No dog knows how to behave without training any more than people do.

When should training start?

Start training early. Start training as soon as you get your dog. Gentle training will help your new companion feel welcome and secure and let him know what the rules are so he won't get in trouble. The old saying, "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" is not true. It is never too late, but it may take longer with an older dog because you may have to spend some time correcting habits he learned before you got him.

Obedience Training

It is a fact that 96% of all dogs relinquished to Animal Services Division have never had a day of obedience training. The owners apparently are unhappy with the way the dogs act-but never trained the dog to be a good citizen. Obedience training involves learning the basic exercises sit, stand, down, walk on leash, come and stay. These exercises are the foundation of all training for any dog/handler activities. A companion dog has good home manners. This means that the dog must be house-trained and learn not to steal food from the table or chew his owner's clothing. He must be taught not to jump on people, and learn what he may do to keep busy instead of destructive chewing or digging. A companion dog must be a good neighbor. He should be quiet unless there is a reason for barking, he should remain at home, out of the street and neighbor's yards. He will walk on a leash without pulling you so that you can enjoy going out with him, will sit and stay when you want him to and will come when you call him. In obedience class you can learn how to teach your dog these basics. Your dog will have the chance to learn how to be polite around other people and other dogs. It's a wonderful chance for you and your dog to enjoy each other. A number of schools, clubs and private trainers offer a variety of classes at different levels of training, instructed by trainers who love dogs and training. Most of these have experience with training all breeds, and can help solve behavior problems. Many classes allow you to observe before signing up.

  • Puppy Class
    This is a basic course for the 3-5 month old puppy. Emphasis on socialization with people and other puppies, and introduction to obedience work with exercises geared to the younger dog.
  • Basic Novice Class
    A course for dogs 5-6 months and older. Emphasis is on basic training needed to make the dog a good companion: walk on a loose leash, sit, down, stay in position and come when called.
  • Advanced Obedience Class
    A class for perfecting obedience exercises to prepare you to enter obedience trials.
  • Canine Good Citizen Class
    Offered by some trainers, your dog will need to know all the exercises taught in a basic training class to pass the Canine Good Citizen Test (CGC). This test is for all dogs and is offered by AKC clubs and other dog organizations within the city. This test of your dog's manners and training is not a competition, and does not require you and your dog to perform with precision. All dogs passing the (CGC) are awarded a certificate from the AKC stating they are a "Canine Good Citizen."
  • Other Classes
    Other specialized classes such as tracking, Therapy Dog Certification, agility and others may be offered and are all great areas to get involved in.

This article was written by Catherine Waters, a volunteer for the Animal Welfare Department.

House Training


Dog in treat box

House training is not difficult but it does require time and a commitment from you to be vigilant and consistent in teaching your puppy or dog not to eliminate in the house. While most dogs will not soil their bed or living quarters, it is important to remember that this area is only a small portion of your home. To a dog, your kitchen, living room, dining room, etc., is not automatically part of its bed/living quarters. Dogs must be taught that it is not acceptable to you if they eliminate inside the house. Also, keep in mind that while the dog you are adopting may have been housebroken already, it is not uncommon for a dog to have a few mistakes in its new home. Following the guidelines set forth below will make the transition much smoother and faster for both you and your new companion.


There are two methods of housebreaking which will work well when you are at home with your dog or puppy. These methods can both be used depending upon your schedule.

  • The first method is crating your dog when you cannot provide direct supervision. Crating is ideal at night when you are asleep.
  • The second method is tethering the dog-you can use a six foot leash to attach the dog to either yourself or to a piece of furniture in the same room where you are working or watching TV.

Set Up a Schedule

Put the dog on a feeding schedule. Food should be offered two or three times per day depending on the age of the dog and should not be left available at all times. If the dog has not eaten the food in 20 minutes, pick up the dish and do not re-offer until the next scheduled eating time.

Take your dog outside (on a leash) as soon as you get up in the morning. Take the dog to a preselected spot where you want the dog to eliminate. Praise your dog when it has performed and take it back into the house for breakfast. If your dog doesn't go after 10 minutes, go back into the house with the dog. Keep the dog on the leash while feeding it breakfast to prevent it from going to another spot in your house and eliminating there. After feeding your dog take a few minutes to play and then take your dog back outside, on a leash, to the same area as before.

If you are using a crate to housebreak, when you come back into the house the dog should go into its crate, along with a toy or a chew. If you are tethering the dog, the dog should remain tethered, either to you directly or in the same room, so that you can watch for signs that the dog needs to go back out again. Dogs should be taken out immediately when they wake up from either a nap or first thing in the morning. They should also be taken out immediately after they eat and after a long play session.

In addition, every two hours (set a timer if necessary), give your dog the chance to go outside again. Initially these trips outside are solely for the purpose of elimination. Therefore, it is important to keep the dog on a leash and take it directly to the spot where you want the dog to eliminate. It is your responsibility to make sure the dog doesn't have the opportunity to eliminate in the house. Therefore, when you are not home to supervise, the dog needs to be confined. If you are using a crate, the dog can be crated when you are not home. (Remember not to leave a dog crated for long periods of time.) Have a short play session with the dog when you bring it inside again before crating or tethering.

When You're Gone

Until your dog is reliably housebroken (which means it never goes inside the house), the dog should never have the run of the house. If you are not using a crate, you will need to confine the dog to a small area-a tiled bathroom or laundry is ideal. While you are housebreaking do not allow unlimited access to food or water. You can put newspapers down initially, but as the dog begins to understand that elimination is done outside, the area with newspapers should become smaller. As soon as you get home, you should immediately leash your dog and take it outside to eliminate.


  • If you just open the door and let your dog out you have no way of knowing whether it did its business while it was outside and you are losing a golden opportunity to praise it for eliminating outside. Housebreaking is time consuming but if you are consistent about following a schedule, your dog should understand the routine within a few days. While your dog may understand that it needs to "go" outside, it may not be old enough to physically control its urges to eliminate. Make sure your dog has plenty of opportunity to do the right thing outside.
  • Accidents do happen. If you miss the signs that your dog needs to go outside, do not punish it. Hitting your dog will only reinforce that it shouldn't eliminate in front of you-not that going inside is bad. All you have taught here is that the dog should sneak off to another room to do its business.
  • Purchase an odor neutralizer and use it when cleaning up inside. Pet supply stores sell and can recommend "enzymes" that will erase the smell and in some cases, eradicate the stain. Dogs have very sensitive noses and can smell areas where they (or other animals) have previously eliminated even if you can't.

Authored by Jan Gribble, an Animal Services Division volunteer.

Walking your Dog

In addition to the basic needs of food and shelter, a dog needs social interaction, positive attention from its owner, exercise and mental stimulation. Many of these needs can be met by simply taking your dog for a walk. Walking your dog daily provides it with attention from you. Perhaps more than anything, our pets simply want our company. Even when you remain home during the day, much of your time is spent doing chores rather than interacting with the family pet. Take along a plastic bag or a container and be sure to pick up after your pet.

A walk allows you to practice obedience skills with your dog to increase the reliability of training. Reviewing the basic commands also increases the benefits of a walk because your dog is not simply ambling along, but is performing additional tasks. Taking your dog for a walk provides mental stimulation through territorial investigation. Nose to the ground and alert to the sights and sounds of the neighborhood, your dog gathers information about how its territory has changed since the last walk.

Along with the emotional benefits, there are physical benefits. Walking your dog is the best way to exercise a dog that may not move about much in your home or even in your yard. Aging pets must be kept as agile and fit as possible but may not be inclined to exercise without encouragement. Even if your pet is active in your yard, it is more active during a walk. The pleasure of your company is one of your dog's greatest motivations to exercise.

If you pass by another dog or person along the way, your dog has an opportunity to socialize. Dogs are social animals. It is in their nature to investigate unrecognized or recognized individuals. Puppies should be encouraged from a young age to appropriately greet and interact with other dogs and people while on walks. These positive experiences help the puppy behave appropriately when greeting visitors to your home, or when the dog is with you anywhere else. If a dog does not have the opportunity to socialize, it will not interact appropriately with people or other dogs.

Walking your dog is one of the best ways to prevent behavior problems. At least two walks daily help prevent elimination problems, destructiveness, separation anxiety and other common behavior disorders. Walk your dog soon after each meal, as this is the time it is most likely to urinate or defecate, and you can direct the dog to an appropriate location. Praise must be given immediately to be effective. If you simply let your dog out in the yard, you lose an opportunity to reinforce desirable behavior.

Allowing a dog to roam freely is dangerous both to the dog, other pets and people. It also gives the unsupervised dog freedom to regress to unacceptable wild behavior. Your dog's life could depend on its obedience to your warnings. Restricting some activity cannot be unkind in view of the possible consequences.

Dogs and Trucks

Albuquerque Animal Services Ordinance 9-2-3-14

No person shall carry an animal in or upon any vehicle in a cruel, inhumane or unsafe manner. An animal carried in the bed of a truck must be crated or restrained upon a nonmetal mat so that it cannot fall or jump from the truck or be strangled.

Dogs who are riding in the back of pick up trucks may look like they're having fun. But when you transport your dog in the back of your pick up, you endanger both your dog and other motorists.

Your dog isn't necessarily safe even if he/she does manage to stay in the back of the truck; the air that rushes into your pet's face carries dirt and debris, such as gravel, that can lodge in ears, eyes, or nose and cause serious damage.

If your truck hits a bump or swerves to avoid an obstacle or if you step on the brakes suddenly, a dog riding in the truck bed can easily be thrown on to the road. (Tying your dog into the truck bed is not a safe option; ropes and leashes become nooses when a dog is jolted into the air.) If being hurled on to the street does not kill or injure your dog, being struck by another vehicle probably will. And, in not trying to hit a fallen dog, another driver may cause an accident.

Many dogs would rather relax in the comfort and safety of home than go for a ride. If you must take your dog along for a ride, have him/her ride in the cab with you. You may also secure your dog using a special dog harness, or secure a dog crate so that it can't slide around or tip over.

Remember to be alert for high or very low temperatures. The inside temperature of a plastic crate can rise very quickly. Dogs should never be left in open pick up trucks with metal or rubber liners. There is a great risk of heat or cold injury because they get very hot, or very cold.

Many dog bites occur yearly from dogs in the back of pick up trucks. The owner is liable for any and all injuries sustained in such attacks.

There are other simple things that you can do to keep your dog safe if it is necessary to take him/her on a trip. For instance, be sure that your dog is never left unattended-even for a few minutes. And always have your dog wear ID tags with home address and if you are moving, the destination you're moving to. Contact your local pet supply store to locate a harness or crate that is appropriate for your dog. The trip will be more enjoyable for both of you if you make sure your dog will be safe and sound on arrival.

Canine Good Citizen Test

The Canine Good Citizen Test (CGC) is a certification program that tests dogs in simulated day-to-day situations. This program is open to all dogs. It was developed by the American Kennel Club (AKC) to evaluate whether a dog is well-behaved and has good manners in public. It is a one time, pass or fail set of 10 tests demonstrating that your dog is a good companion.

This test of your dog's manners and training is not a competition, and does not require that you and your dog perform with precision.

To pass the CGC test, the dog must be socialized around other people and dogs. He must allow other people to touch him without jumping on them or trying to bite. The dog must also know basic commands such as sit, down, stay and come, as well as walking politely on a leash.

The CGC test is composed of 10 different tests, which are meant to simulate day-to-day life. All dogs passing the test are awarded a certificate from the AKC stating that they are a "Canine Good Citizen."

The purpose of the CGC Test is to ensure that the dog, can be an accepted member of the community because it has been taught to behave well in the home, in public places, and around other dogs.

This test is offered by several local dog clubs in the Albuquerque area throughout the year. For more information contact the Sandia Dog Obedience Club or the Rio Grande Kennel Club 

Test One: Accepting A Friendly Stranger

The dog must allow a friendly stranger to approach and speak with its owner without showing fear or aggression. The dog must show no sign of resentment or shyness.

Test Two: Sitting Politely for Petting

The dog must sit quietly and allow a stranger to pet it. While the dog is sitting at the handler's side, the stranger pets the dog on the head and body only, then circles the dog and handler completing the test. The dog must show no sign of resentment or shyness.

Test Three: Appearance & Grooming

This practical test shows that the dog will accept being handled by a stranger, such as a veterinarian, groomer, or friend of the owner. The dog must be clean and well-groomed since this test also considers the owner's care of the dog. The stranger inspects the dog, then combs and brushes the dog and lightly examines the ears and each front foot.

Test Four: Out For A Walk

This test determines whether the dog walks politely on a leash. The owner must be in control and able to walk the dog without the dog pulling on the leash. The dog may be on either side of the handler. There must be several turns and halts. The dog does not have to be line with the handler and does not have to sit when the handler stops.

Test Five: Walking Through A Crowd

This test demonstrates that the dog can walk politely around strange people in public places without pulling on the leash. The dog and handler walk around and pass close to several people (at least three). The dog may show some interest in strangers, without being over exuberant, shy or resentful.

Test Six: Sit & Down On Command/Staying In Place

This test demonstrates that the dog has training. The dog must be able to sit and down on command and be able to stay for a specified amount of time. The handler may take a reasonable amount of time and use more than one command to make the dog sit and then down. When instructed, the handler tells the dog to stay and walks forward the length on a 20 foot line. The dog must remain in place, but may change positions.

Test Seven: Coming When Called

This test also requires some obedience training and demonstrates that the dog will come when called by the handler. The handler will walk 10 feet from the dog, turn to face the dog, and will call the dog. The handler may use body language or encouragement to get the dog to come.

Test Eight: Reaction To Another Dog

This test is designed to determine if the dog is well-behaved around other dogs. Two handlers and their dogs approach each other from a distance, stop, shake hands, and exchange pleasantries, and continue. The dogs should show no more than casual interest in each other. They should not try to greet, attack, or run from the other dog.

Test Nine: Reaction To Distractions

This test demonstrates that the dog can cope with common distracting sights and sounds, such as a person hammering a nail into wood or a jogger running in front of the dog. The dog may express interest and curiosity and may appear slightly startled, but should not panic, try to run away, show aggressiveness or bark.

Test 10: Supervised Separation

This is another test that requires some obedience training. It is designed to see if the dog will accept being left briefly with a stranger. The instructor will take and hold the dog's leash while the handler goes out of sight. The dog must remain with the stranger for three minutes and may show mild agitation or worry. It does not have to stay in position, but should not continually make noise, pace, panic, or try to escape from the stranger.

This article was written by Catherine Waters, a volunteer for Animal Services Division.