I woke up this morning with an idea in my head which I couldn’t wait to come downstairs and type about for all you lovely dog owners. I’ve recently been reading a great book called Think your way to Success by Mark Rhodes and it struck me that as a Dog Owners Coach I teach a lot of what I am reading about in this book to my clients.
Did you know that the word ‘Want’ in most people’s head has negative associations in your subconscious mind? Linked in childhood where we said ‘I want’ ,lets say a Barbie doll or a bike or a dog or a pony and were told ‘NO’ by our parents, then we were obviously upset or sometimes devastated because we soooo Wanted that thing. Our powerful subconscious would then make the decision (as it’s main job is keeping you safe and able to survive the world) that things you ‘want’ are obviously things that will hurt, upset or devastate you and can be passed over. Interesting stuff isn’t it?
Now bear with me because this all fits together in your life and working with your dog…
Apparently the way to get around this is to change your mental vocabulary and how you associate with the things you actually do want to have in your life. So if your wish in your head is to have a happy well mannered dog, instead of thinking to yourself ‘I really want a well mannered dog’, you should be thinking something along the lines of ‘wouldn’t it be great to have a well mannered, happy dog. We could have so much fun together’. Now just read those two statements for a minute, can you see the difference that might make to your emotional sub-conscious? We change a negative association into a positive association. It’s about changing your mindset.
Being aware of your thought process and body language and being mindful of how you associate this to something you would like your dog to do is exactly the things I teach with my coaching clients. It sounds a bit strange but it is something we dont consciously think about in our day to day lives. To change anything in your life, mentally or physically we have to change some of our habits or tweak our routines. If not then we will keep doing the same thing over and over again and nothing will change! This is where Consistency comes in. Consistency makes something you might do once, into a habit. If you do the same thing every day, say for instance, I tell my client to come down stairs, let the dog out as they normally would do every morning, but from now on just don’t look or speak to the dog until it has done what it needs to do and is back inside again. If they do this every morning it forms a good habit. They don’t get jumped on, the dog doesn’t wee on the floor and the dog will learn not to expect its morning cuddle until it comes back inside after he does his morning toilet routine outside. 2 weeks later we have a daily routine that the owner doesn’t even need to think about and seems like it is something they have always done.
If that all makes sense to you I thought it might be fun to share some of our annoying dog problems. For one it lets other people see that they might have similar issues and are not alone and two it can help someone who might not want to ask. Let me know what the issue is and what your normal reaction to this behaviour and we’ll see what might need a tweak.
So go ahead and let me know what issue with your dog is getting on your nerves today by adding a comment below (Unfortunately I can’t go into dog aggression as this is a very serious subject that needs full commitment from the owner to work on one to one)
Thank you for reading and I look forward to helping you and your dog
Bernie – The Dog Owners Coach
We all want a well-mannered and relaxed dog around the house. To keep us company when we are on our own or when we have guests over. There is nothing worse or embarrassing when your dog wont leave you or your guests alone! But could it be you that is causing this behaviour?
Mistake no.1 Do you constantly talk to your dog like they are another person?
We’ve all done this, we are human and sometimes I think we just like the sound of our own voice, some more than others! We tell our pets, ‘I’m home! Did you miss me?’, ‘What have you been up to all day, wait to you hear about my day…’, ‘I’m just going out to [friends] house I wont be long’, ‘What would you like for dinner we have…’ and it goes on and on. I hope you’re laughing right now if this is you because we have all wished our pets would talk back to us, just once! But, unfortunately they never do or will because they are a dog.
Why is this so bad I hear you ask? Well for one, this is an exercise in getting things off our chest or looking for some love and attention ourselves but you are also training your dog to become an attention seeker through no fault of his/ her own. He’ll learn that paying you attention while you chat away all day long gets him something he wants too, you. You are his/her reward for just paying you attention, but then when you are busy, running late and in a rush or you have guests over, who’s still looking for attention and getting in your way? You got it!
Secondly, if your voice fills the room, day and night and becomes background noise to your dog. How does he know when you are saying the important stuff? We all learn to switch off after a while, I think they call it ‘Selective Hearing’. If your dog is paying you attention at the wrong times and not, when he is supposed to, it’s not his fault. Think ‘Does my dog need to know this information?’ before you speak.
Mistake no.2 Do you look at your dog a lot or constantly watch him?
I don’t know about you but I hate the idea of being watched. You want to keep looking over your shoulder all the time. This may come as a surprise to you but because dogs don’t speak a language, they use body language as their main form of communication. Eye contact being at the top of the list. OK here’s a little experiment for you to try with some non canine members of your family. Next time you are in a room with another human, don’t say anything and just look at them, keep your face neutral if possible and just watch them and keep making eye contact. I will guarantee you within a couple of minutes you are going to be asked ‘What?’
Do you get it yet? When ever you come in the door and look down at your furry friend and he looks back at you, you have started a conversation and he’s saying ‘what?’ (Probably what’s this nutter looking for now because they never tell me they just walk off and then they do it again and again)
Again we are rewarding attention seeking behaviour because we hold our dog in a constant non- verbal conversation which then becomes a habit. It’s one of the hardest things to do but stop looking at the dog when he doesn’t need to be in the conversation. A lot of ‘busy’ dogs are like this because they have an attention seeking owner! They only lie down and sleep when it’s time for the soaps on TV or the computer goes on. Sound familiar?
Mistake no.3 Do you tell your dog what to do All The Time?
OK this is my biggest bugbear and it’s with the humans, not the dogs. I know parents who do this too, so don’t be feeling left out anyone! You know the ones you visit or see in the park? ‘Stop doing that’, ‘come here’, ‘sit there’, ‘lie down there’, ‘wait’, ‘leave’, ‘I said No’, I could go on but I’m boring myself.
What you then create is a neurotic dog which needs to be around you all the time so you can tell it what to do or what not to do. Why? Because if it’s the only way it’s going to get your attention, good or bad, then that’s what he has to do – trying to work out what the hell the human wants it to do now.
Dog’s like children are intelligent creatures and learn by making mistakes and learning from the consequences of their own actions. If you Tell a dog or a child what to Do all the time then what are they going to learn? Exactly what you tell them and nothing else, probably. Like a robot. How about letting them learn self-control? Don’t laugh, it’s the basis for most positive reward training. Which we know to be the kindest and quickest way for anyone, human or animal to learn. Why? Because we will continue to do a behaviour in which we gain something good from doing that behavior. For example, we teach toddlers that if they say ‘Please’ they will get [name that reward*chips,lolipops,sweeties, etc*] what happens if they don’t say please? Nothing, they don’t get their nice thing. They think about it and then say Please! We aint stupid you know and neither are our dogs. Let them learn for themselves, you reward what you want to see more of, everyone’s happy!
Lets give them a break from our human world and our human ways and let them just be Canine. Be mindful of your behaviour and you will see a different behaviour from your dog if you do.
Happy dog= Happy owner
If you think this was helpful I’d love for you to like it and leave me a comment
Bernie – The Dog Owners Coach
Have you always wanted a dog like Lassie, Rin tin tin or even Benji? Well I’ll tell you now, They Only Exist in the Movies or with years of training, honing skills of natural or un-natural behaviour and having a very strong and trusting bond with the dog.
It’s time to burst this big bubble that all or even certain dogs – (no matter what breed) are easy to keep, easy to train, are good with people, children, pets etc. No of course they aren’t. Every dog is a single personality, not like their mother or father, not like their litter siblings, not like anyone else. Just like humans, they all have their own personalities, foibles, likes and dis-likes, even from a very early age. Seeing the parents of a pup gives you a degree of certainty that yes they might be social, nice around people or will be healthy but that is never 100% certainty. One certainty you can guarantee 100% is the time you spend teaching your dog skills you want it to have in adult life, they will have in adult life.
If you want your dog to walk nicely by your side as you go for a relaxing walk, or run with you when you go for a jog or pull you if you want to go for a mush, you have to teach them what you want or expect of them. There’s no point in buying expensive harnesses, lines, a rig and put your dog in front, tie him to it and expect him to know that he now has to pull, where as before this you had expected him to walk nicely by your side. You train him and show him how fun this new experience is so he wants to do it again and again. We take driving lessons, guitar lessons, language lessons, tennis or football lessons or ‘practise’ so why should it be any different for your dog? If you want them to have a certain skill then you have to teach them and practise, practise, practise!
I’m not saying you can’t teach your dog to be like Lassie but don’t just expect them to be like her and By the Way… movie and tv Lassie was about 4 or 5 different dogs!
Here’s where some dogs get the short end of the stick when it comes to some people’s expectations. I have come up against people like this when I worked in rescues. The potential new owner wants a dog, ‘OK lets see what type of lifestyle you have so we can find a dog that suits’. They then proceed to tell you they work a 40+hr week, go to the pub at weekends and a couple of foreign holidays a year, don’t do much ‘outdoorsy-things’ and they want a labrador for the kids, are adamant they want one, a big, friendly one. Of course that’s no life for a big energetic dog and most people don’t want to hear that reality. You can change the breed in that story to what someone has in their heads that they want and no matter how much you tell them that they need a lot of grooming /exercise / training etc they don’t see it as a problem, they then find a dog somewhere else and a month down the line there’s a frustrated and angry owner who has no idea how to stop their beagle (any breed) from barking, chasing the neighbours cat or digging holes in the garden, eating the kids toys or going to the toilet inside the house when it lives outside. Later you find out the dog gets 1 walk a day and lives its whole life in the back yard. Sounds to me like the dog is making the best of a bad situation!
When owners call me out because of their dog’s problems they soon realise that respect, interaction, teaching and enjoying each others company is all part of being a good dog owner. I get the phrase ‘it’s a lot like having kids’ when we are in a coaching session and I totally agree. People think long and hard usually before having kids, they need a lot of love, food, clothes, schooling and that’s just the basic stuff. No-one expects their parental duties are over once the kids hit 16, there are driving lessons, college, part-time jobs, socializing, hobbies…. So why do people not think long and hard about adding a 4 legged family member to their household? There’s love, food, vaccinations, bedding, health, education and time all needed there too for the whole of their lives.
It’s time the human race started treating this loyal, patient, forgiving and highly intelligent creature with more care and respect than what it is deemed to be getting here and now in the 21st century. Dont just be a dog owner, be a GOOD dog owner. Dog’s are not an accessory, they are not a short-term phase you are going through to see if you ‘like’ this breed, they should be treated with love and value and as Clarissa Baldwin’s’ very popular adage says ‘a dog is for life not just for christmas’.
Please think wisely, don’t get a dog if you don’t have time for one, if you do have one then give it time and love and you will be wise.
Please leave a comment below if you liked this post.
Communicating with your dog can be full of pitfalls, they are very subtle in their communication compared to us humans! Check out the link abov about calming signals, this is some of the subtle language our dogs use to communicate amongst themselves but also to us. There is a whole book on it!
Did you ever wonder why when you put a camera aimed at your dog, they start licking and your photo has a big pink tongue in it?
Have you ever got all cosy with your pup and given them a big cuddle and they flick their tongue in and out or do a big yawn! It’s not cause they’re licking their nose or are tired…check it out and share with your kids to be able to read what your dog is Actally trying to say.
please leave a comment below if you have any questions, thank you
I wonder if you were like me growing up, totally ‘dog mad’? Now when I think about it I probably nigh on tortured all the dogs I knew as a kid. I have photos in my album of me with my arms wrapped around the neck of my aunt’s dog, my grandad’s dog, our dog, I dressed them up, we had tea parties or just ‘ran and played’ together around the back yard, they were my best friends. To me it was like they knew what I felt like doing or was just thinking about and I found real happiness in their silent but good humoured company. I knew when I grew up I would ‘Work’ with dogs. I tried working with horses for a while which I loved too but to me there was nothing like the reciprocal friendship and love you get from a dog, both our species have been together a long time and we are alike in a lot of ways.
Finding your Joy
Ok I know not all of you feel like this about dogs and there may have been something else that held or holds that top spot in your heart more than anything else. If you didn’t have to pay the mortgage, rent or babysitters and you could do something you Really Love would it be what you are doing now in real life? No? What about, it’s your main Hobby outside of work? It doesn’t matter what it is but unless you find time to find your joy, have fun in your joy and even share in your joy, life and it’s stresses will soon catch up with you and we all know that just sucks!
If you are like me and you need to find some doggy joy in your life my advice is go and try it and see how you feel about it, move on if you think there could be more or ‘this isn’t for me’. Volunteer! at a dog shelter, at a dog groomers, with mountain rescue, with ‘P.A.T. dogs, at a doggy day care centre, at a dog club, look after other people’s dogs (with permission of course!)
Now there are more dog jobs or ‘vocations’ as they like to call them, than ever! When I told my careers teacher that I wanted to work with animals, especially dogs, I was given the list of Vet, Vet Nurse, Groom, possibly working in an Animal Shelter/ dog pound. That was it! Now there are animal Therapists, Behaviourists, Biologists, Beautcians, Carers, Trainers, Handlers and the list goes on. Do some research, I think I would have loved to be a Wolf Biologist if I had known that was something that was a Real Job back then.
What ever it is that makes your heart sing and puts a Real smile on your face and you wish you could do it all the time, That’s It, you’ve Found It! Your Joy, cherish it with all your heart. Go visit it Often if not All the time!
If you dont know what makes you feel like that, try something new. When you have a rediculous grin on your face and you say to no-one in particular ‘I Love doing this’, you’ll know.
Share with me what Your Joy is by leaving a comment below
Bernie (The Dog Owner’s Coach)