There are a number of personal reasons why many dog owners fail in training or teaching their dog new behaviours. It might be a timing issue, lack of experience or understanding and sometimes, even a lack of patience to persevere through to the desired end result.
But when it comes down to it, if you can’t change some of your own habits or thoughts, how are you going to change your dog’s behaviour?
Are you thinking (be honest!):
- I can’t do this!
- It’s too hard.
- I don’t understand …
Oftentimes, once you leave your dog trainer or coach (who gave you all the correct and positive information to start moving forward towards the new results you want to see), these self-doubting phrases are the first to pop up.
Most likely, you feel overwhelmed with all this new information compounded with a strong feeling of resistance because you are now facing a choice between continuing with the old way of doing things or a fresh, new start that requires a lot more work. So instead of putting your new training into place, you find yourself making excuses as to why you shouldn’t – or won’t – start now. Unfortunately, most people choose the path of least resistance, to put it off, at least for now.
Here’s MY answer to each of those statements above:
1. Yes you can do it! You may be feeling fear of the unknown or perhaps you really don’t fully understand the new process; but Yes You Can do it! Talk with your trainer or coach about what is holding you back and together, recreate the new process into smaller steps (“baby steps”). It’s only resistance that is making you feel like you are taking a step into the unknown.
2. Remember, changing your beliefs or habits about anything in life is difficult and it usually goes hand-in-hand with indecision, fear and resistance. But all good things take time and hard work, especially if you want to break out of the same old rut of unwanted results. Change is not Impossible.
3. Not understanding something is NOT a reason to resist moving forward and changing your life; it’s an excuse. If you don’t understand, ask! You will be surprised at how many people are willing to help you, but unless you ask them for assistance, you will continue to remain in the same place as before, with the same problems and results.
Think about all the changes you’ve made in your life; remember the initial resistance and fear you felt? Starting a new diet; quitting smoking; learning to drive; changing jobs or ending a relationship. All those changes took you totally outside your ‘comfort zone’ simply because you had never done it before. But you went through it and came out on the other side happier, stronger and more confident.
It’s going to be exactly like that when dealing with your dog’s behaviour. You Can Do It!
Sure, it’s going to feel scary, unsure and uncomfortable in the pit of your stomach; but at the same time, it might also feel a little exhilarating, exciting and something to look forward to mastering!
But if you are focusing on the “unknown” and questioning whether you’re making the right decision, is it going to be too hard or maybe you don’t know all the answers, then you are going to feel and empower all those uncomfortable and negative feelings of resistance. Worse yet, you are going to project that insecure and negative energy to your dog which can defeat, deflect and contradict any attempts at new training.But, if you focus on thinking, “this is going to change my life;” “I’m in control of this and I’m learning something new and fun;” you’ll have a much better chance in meeting and overcoming that resistance! Confront it head-on and just do it!
A lot of people talk about Fear, Procrastination, Rationalisation and Resistance; but until you can put those words to how you feel at that moment, they don’t mean much. But it’s those feelings that are encouraging you to second-guess yourself, to stay exactly where you are now and not change anything. As soon as you recognize and put a name to those feelings, you’re back in the driver’s seat with choices and the positive results of making the right choices.
You’re not alone!
Here’s my own personal saga of resistance. I know I have to do my accounts; so I put it off by cleaning my house from top to bottom (which I loathe), answering emails and going on Facebook. Or maybe I need to speak to someone about an uncomfortable situation; so instead, I’ll avoid seeing or speaking to them for the next week! Doing anything else (except for what I’m supposed to be doing) until I actually have nothing else to do but those things because the deadline is now looming and I will feel worse if I didn’t do them at this point.
That’s how resistance works, it doesn’t want us to move forward, improve ourselves or improve our lives; it encourages us to stay in our comfort zone, doing what we always do, until what we’ve been avoiding will actually make us feel worse off than not doing it.
Once you do it, you think, why did I make such a big deal out of that? That wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. And now you’ve taken the step head-on into your resistance; and once you’ve done that thing once or twice, it gets easier and is no longer met with resistance and you’ve developed a new, more successful habit.
As Nike says ‘Just Do it.’
So after you’ve read this today, tell resistance to go take a hike and get back to teaching your dog in the best way you know how; remember, they are looking to you to lead the way.
Congratulations! You are now in charge of your success as your dog’s confident leader!
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I first met the dog I would live with, travel with and love for 17 years in a small NCDL rescue centre, now Dogs Trust in Ballymena. My best friend, whom I was living with at the time had recently rehomed a dog from there and as we were both big dog lovers and now in our own digs, she promised me she would let me have my own dog too.
So the week before my 22nd birthday we decided to take the hour and a half trip up to the centre and have a look. I knew what I had in mind as I always loved lurchers with their sleek coats and slender aerodynamic bodies. This would be my chance to have one of my own. When we got there we walked around the pens looking at all the potential in those many pairs of brown eyes.
There were many lurchers, mainly greyhound crosses with soft eyes and a variety of coat colours and textures, nuzzling and licking our fingers through the wire. My friend could see I was falling in love and so excited, I was like a kid in a sweet shop. She agreed they were all quite beautiful but maybe a little large, as were living in a terraced house with only a small front and back garden, with 1 dog already.
I felt a little disappointed that she wasn’t quite as enthusiastic as myself for these beautiful and unwanted creatures but she encouraged me to keep looking, which is what we did. We stopped at every pen and squinted into the shadow to see who sat there or hid in the back.
On the last row I was losing my enthusiasm and wanted to go back to the lurchers, there were so many it would take me a while to choose one anyway. I walked around the corner and was met at the first pen door by this black jack-in-the-box. He bounced up and down the whole time we stood there but what I could see of this black blur was that he had the same shape of face as my lovely lurchers but that was all I could see. He was also a little smaller.
We asked one of the staff could they bring him out and asked about his story. The lady had a huge smile on her face and said in no uncertain terms that Jacko was her favourite as she slipped a lead over his head and brought him out.
He was in no way a shy dog, he greeted us with his whole body wagging and feet doing a jig and trying to kiss us amid all this crazy welcome dance he was performing. He was sleek jet black with a white stripe on his chest and he looked like a mini lurcher. Jacko as they had called him had been born in the centre to a white whippet mum, they presumed dad was a collie as he had a fluffy undercoat to the outer shiny flat coat and he was now larger than his mum had been. All his siblings had been rehomed, as had he, but he had been returned for being too much to handle by his previous owners.
It was love at first sight. His big brown eyes shone with mischief, love for everyone he met and a pure love of life and I wanted him to be mine. We took him for a walk which involved him pogo jumping half the walk in his enthusiastic way but I knew in my heart this boy was meant to be with me. I was his second chance.
We went through all the necessary paperwork and homechecks and the following weekend of my birthday we went to collect my boy who I renamed Solo, so as not to confuse him completely of his old name which I didn’t care for. He was more like a Han Solo my new ebony boy.
We soon found out he was a chewing expert, carpets, curtains and seat belts were his forte’, barking was another habit which took a long time to master but he had the company of my friends lovely dog Trouble to get him over his transition from kennels to home life.
Soon we moved to Oxfordshire to follow my career with horses and Solo’s first flight in a plane. I spent the whole flight imagining him escaping from his crate and bounding out the door as soon as the baggage handlers opened it and being mortified as images of us all trying to catch him as he chased planes on the runway haunted me! He didn’t I hasten to add but that was the kind of thing he could do.
The move to living in a more open environment with lots of exercise across big grass fields and spending all day with me while I worked in a large yard suited him down to the ground. He made lots of doggy and horsey friends although he always erred on the cautious side to any newcomer on 4 legs. Newcomers on 2 legs were met with his by now well known pogo stick impression and trying to kiss their face while they were still upright. His other trade mark was to gently put their wrist in his mouth, like a doggy handshake. This he only did with his true friends.
He was great with other dogs, he also showed an inbuilt ability for herding when needed and he helped me with many a shy or scared dog, encouraging them with his gentle ways that everything would be fine. He loved the water and the beach and chasing balls and especially if all 3 were combined. Then we could barely get him back to the car!
I couldn’t sum up his whole life in this one small blog but I wanted to let the world know that this funny, intelligent, kind and wonderful dog had existed in this world, if only to help me through life and remind me to keep my sense of humour and patience on many occasions.
For 17 years he was my shadow, my best friend, my confidante and my teacher. He taught me to never judge a book by it’s cover and that every dog deserves a second chance and has the potential to change your life for the better. They come into our lives like a guardian angel to teach us about ourselves and how to treat others, with kindness, with humour and with unconditional love.
And when they leave this world we know they have touched our lives and our hearts like no other creature ever could.
This blog is dedicated to the memory of my ebony boy who will live forever in my heart.
For Solo x
Here at the The Dog Owner’s Coach, 2013 has been really busy! And that means a lot of fantastic, free information and gifts for you all through this year!
This FREE REPORT is hopefully one of many such gifts that you will find enjoyable, enlightening and even better, FUN! Our dogs teach us every day that there’s nothing better than learning and having fun all at the same time.
In this FREE REPORT, you will learn:
- How to understand your dog
- What motivates your dog to do what you want
- Strategies that work
- How to build a real relationship with your dog
- Stop doing what isn’t working
So click on this link CLICK HERE, go to the box with the big arrow in the top-right corner, fill in your information and receive this FREE, great info a lot of trainers forget to tell you … straight to your Inbox!
And please share your experiences with us as you’re using the 6 Secrets from your free report!
Have a great week from The Dog Owners Coach!
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So here’s the question; Is neutering really as kind to our dogs as we think?
This important study is worth a read for people thinking about neutering before 1 year old, especially with a pedigree breed.
Let us know what you think……
Are you a frustrated dog owner that feels you’ve tried nearly every method of dog training that’s available today? And do you always end up finding that nothing has worked for you? You know the pattern, they all sound great in the beginning, you try them for a while, but eventually your dog’s negative behaviours re-emerge or worse yet, escalate!
While I dislike being the fly in the ointment, is it possible that what’s really not working is your motivation and total commitment to stick to one method consistently, and over the long-term, to realize the results you’re seeking?
But, it’s not your fault!
Today we live in the reality of shorter attention spans, faster convenience, instant gratification and “Quick Fixes” being highlighted on most TV programs.
That’s all well and good when you’re watching a thirty minute TV program featuring your celebrity-dog-trainer-of-choice. But what people don’t see – and ultimately forget – is that all the long, tedious and boring footage has been edited out of the program to make it fit into less than 30 minutes, as well as making it more “dramatic” and “action-packed” to you the viewer; whether you’re sitting at home in your armchair or watching it on the train from your mobile device.
Unfortunately, what we humans have forgotten today (in the endless watching of YouTube “How To” videos and never-ending debates in online chat rooms about the latest harness vs collar or one training method over another) is one critical fact. The only way your dog is going to learn something new and positive is for you to close the laptop, shut off the TV and power down the mobile device and go and practice with them in the backyard. Yes, good old-fashioned work.
You see, your dog doesn’t know (or really care) it’s the 21st century. They don’t understand your always-on noisy TV, the endless tapping on your laptop or frankly, any other domestic contraption. They don’t comprehend the unspoken “rules of the road” that exist in their human’s world (but not in theirs). For example, WE know that it’s a definite no-no to pee on another dog or person. Or that it’s a serious social faux pas to happily hump another dog or even the leg of a guest that’s visiting your mum or dad. Mother Nature did not program these social idiosyncrasies into our canine’s DNA.
So, how do our dogs live in our fast-paced, contraption-filled, rule-abiding insane world without running back to the wild with their tails between their legs?
Simple, We Teach Them!
It constantly amazes me how well our dogs already adapt themselves to living in our crazy world that we accept as “normal.” Consider it for a moment; they live in high-rise apartments and walk down busy streets in bustling and noise-ridden cities throughout the world without as much as a blink of an eye! Or perhaps they live in the remotest parts of the planet, herding sheep at high altitudes on a snow-clad, icy mountain range, taking everything in stride.
Now look at your dog lounging at your feet. YOUR dog can do that as well! Why? Because that adorable creature, looking up at you with those huge puppy eyes, is one of the most intelligent and adaptable creatures who share this planet with us.
They have already proven this to us time after time as they help us with: Companionship, Security (police and customs), Herding (of almost any animal), Military (from bomb units to drug units), Assistance (guide dogs for the blind as well as other disabilities), alerting epileptic owners that a fit is about to happen, smelling out cancers in the human body
But all these incredible canines did not teach themselves how to do all those things. Their inspired dog owners saw the capability and intelligence in their faithful companions and challenged themselves to develop and enhance these innate dog abilities. We are a very resourceful race, us humans, but how did we get to a place where stopping your dog from jumping up or barking has utterly stumped us?!
So it really comes down to this simple question: how badly do you really want to change your dog’s bad habit? It’s really this simple, only those with the true commitment and dedicated motivation will succeed in creating their “perfect” dog.
Your full commitment is required if you want to make you and your dog’s life a better, more harmonious one. You have to be committed to getting over this behavioral hump and be able to visualize the ultimate potential. Motivate yourself to practice and work with your dog every day. You’ll not only be addressing and overcoming undesired behaviors, but also building a stronger bond with your dog.
If you find your knowledge is lacking and not up to the current challenge you’re facing with your dog, ASK FOR HELP! But ultimately, you have to commit to using that help and consistently follow through with it every single day.
DO NOT be embarrassed if you don’t know how to properly address the problem with you dog. There are always qualified professionals ready to help you with whatever situation or problem you might be experiencing with your dog. Professionals who can help you better communicate to your dog what it is that you really want.
Caution: the situation or problem with your dog will not fix itself; it will not fix itself in one session and cannot be fixed by someone else. Get back to the basics and practice, practice, practice with daily hands-on experience.
Just saying “this method doesn’t work for me” gets you nowhere, especially if you have only done it half-heartedly or inconsistently. Just like with any job, it’s time to engage a solid and committed work ethic – along with proper knowledge – in working with your dog!
Dogs aren’t robots, you can’t just type a command and it happens instantaneously! But, with patience, commitment and positive reinforcement, you’ll begin to see real, lasting results within a few weeks. Remember, dogs learn by experience; so go lead, teach and give them a positive, enjoyable experience and they will follow you to the ends of the earth!
I KNOW you have it in you!
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We all love our dogs to bits; but aren’t there just some habits – like jumping up – that can get a bit annoying after a while? (Imagine how your guests feel!) Then there are the attention-seeking habits you don’t even realize are happening.
Does your dog have your attention ‘on tap’ every waking hour of every day? Who exactly is living on whose terms?
Why do we accept some attention-seeking behaviours as just part of our dog’s personality? And when do those attention-seeking habits turn into truly “bad habits,” usually causing a dog owner to seek out professional help? Why do dog owners wait until they are at “the end of their rope” to start talking about changing or stopping these unacceptable habits?
Let’s take a closer look at some of our dog’s attention-seeking patterns that can often turn into habitual and challenging behaviours.
What is a habit? Here’s how “habit” is defined in the Dictionary.com:
1 [hab-it] Show IPA noun
- An acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary: the habit of looking both ways before crossing the street.
- Customary practice or use: daily bathing is an American habit.
- A particular practice, custom, or usage: the habit of shaking hands.
- A dominant or regular disposition or tendency; prevailing character or quality: she has a habit of looking at the bright side of things.
- Addiction, especially to narcotics (often preceded by “the”).
A lot of our own habits, as well as those of our dogs, fall under one of the five definitions above. When we focus on teaching our dog ‘good habits,’ we are aiming for the first definition. For example: when teaching a dog to “sit,” we repeat this behaviour repeatedly, usually with food rewards, until the dog starts doing it without thinking about it anymore. This pattern of behaviour has now become involuntary. This is what true “training” is all about. But what if demanding your attention on a 24/7 basis has become your dog’s new pattern of behaviour or habit?
Well, your dog is now addicted to your attention and will do ANYTHING to get it! (See definition #5 above!)
The Top 10 Dog Attention-Seeking (or addictive) Habits (some obvious ones are first):
- Jumping up on you (or others)
- Barking or whining at you
- Pawing or nosing you
- Bringing something to play with to you and demanding you join in
- Rolling over to get their belly rubbed (oh yes, it works every time!)
Below are some of the more subtle habits which – at first glance – might not seem to be about you at all or even attention-seeking. But each of these habits were developed or encouraged while giving your dog attention (either positively or negatively):
- Sitting on your feet, leaning against your leg or placing their head in your lap
- Playing or chewing something they are not allowed to have, turning it into a game
- Chewing or licking themselves (sometimes loudly)
- Chasing their tail or chasing light or shadows
- Barking at something when there seems to be nothing there
Now, these latter behaviours may start out as attention-seeking behaviours; but did you know that most of them can turn into almost neurotic behaviours if:
- Your dog is encouraged to continue the behaviour; or
- Your dog is under a lot of stress and uses one of these habits to cope with that stress?
I could go on and on with this list as dogs are highly intelligent creatures and know us inside out (sometime better than we know ourselves!). Where and whenever they received your attention, they will probably use that exact same behaviour again if something else doesn’t work to get your attention!
Well I may have already given this one away when I said “Instantly” in the title; because the easy answer is to just Ignore It!
The hardest part in stopping these habits is to be aware of them in the first place! Once you are more aware of your dog’s behaviour, ask yourself, ‘Is my dog trying to get my attention on their terms or mine?’
If the answer is “on their terms,” then look away instantly; moving your whole head, not just your eyes. Remember, they are trying to get your attention! So moving your eyes is good, but if your dog is a pro at this (and most are), they will simply move back into your line of sight. By moving your head away (along with your eye focus) you are delivering a stronger message to your dog that you do not want to interact at the moment. Try it! You will still be able to see your dog in your peripheral vision. Just do not look at him or her directly … doing so means “attention” to your dog.
Some of your dog’s behaviours are also about personal space. We all have personal space, humans and canines. Our dogs need to understand when we want our personal space back. You can use the technique of looking away (as you learned above) for more annoying attention-seeking habits as well … like jumping up on you. If your dog begins jumping up on you, either move away from the dog (if you are standing up) or gently (but quickly) push your dog out of your space and let go. Do not speak to them. If you’re still holding onto your dog’s collar at this point or if your hand is still lingering on their body, your addicted dog may very well misinterpret your real intent and enthusiastically try to make this into a fun new game! Keep your actions calm, assertive, yet gentle, so your dog doesn’t see your actions as exciting and engaging like when you DO want to interact with your dog.
Quiet confidence will effectively get your message across. If you do forget and speak to your dog, just watch how quickly your dog gets excited (or even overexcited)! (Translation: Woo Hoo, I just got their attention!)
You are now teaching your dog that attention on your terms is about Quality not Quantity.
For habits that are more subtle (but can still turn into more serious behavioural problems if allowed to continue) or if you are having trouble discouraging unwanted attention-seeking behaviour, seek a professional’s advice.
Do you go for walks with your dog happily trotting by your side? Or do you feel like you are being dragged behind a heat-seeking missile with absolutely no steering (or brake for that matter), just waiting for disaster to strike?!
Ever wonder how some dog owners make walking their dog look like pure pleasure?
Ever wondered how an 11-year old girl can easily lead her pony without being dragged in every direction? (Especially when full-grown adults are being dragged off-course by dogs half their size?!)
Want to know their secret?
The answer is simple; they were taught to behave this way.
Someone put the necessary time, effort and knowledge into teaching that pony (or dog) – at a young age and before bad behaviour set in – what is (and isn’t) acceptable behaviour. We all know that a child would not be able to hold onto something as powerful as a horse, especially if the horse was young, wild and untrained.
So why don’t we think in the same terms with our dogs?
Imagine if you were to alter your mindset when it comes to your dog. What if you put a wolf in the place of your dog; wouldn’t you show greater respect for that creature and treat it differently? Now, what if that wolf wasn’t properly trained with care and kindness? Imagine the mayhem, fear and even injury that could result! Wouldn’t you feel responsible if you were to get this wrong?
So why do we look at our dogs so differently? If left untrained, wouldn’t they be as likely to cause mayhem, fear or injury as the wolf? Of course! So let’s start working on that new mindset below.
Teaching Your Dog
Puppies and dogs learn in the exact same way, by experience. Those behaviours that feel pleasurable will most likely happen again. Using positive praise and rewards will work, but only if you give these at the right time. For instance, your dog starts pulling on the lead and you start speaking to him, telling him to behave, go easy, slow down and so on. But when he is walking nicely beside you, he gets very little positive interaction from you. So which behaviour do you think he is more likely to repeat?
I always teach my clients to get their pup or dog happily walking beside them at home without the use of a lead. Why? Because this helps your dog quickly learn that they can be part of the team and get your positive interaction without being coerced or dragged into place. The idea is to make it fun – almost like a game of “follow the leader” – to help your dog learn to walk beside you. With lots of short 5-minute “games,” you will begin to easily ingrain this “good” habit or behaviour as a natural way of your dog walking with you, without consciously thinking about it.
Practise walking in different directions, stopping and starting, while encouraging your dog to stay with you at your side. Keeping it short and fun means you will both want to repeat this as often as you have time throughout the day. Once your dog understands he needs to be consistently at your side, you can increase and decrease your pace and do more complicated manoeuvres. Once your dog can keep up, it’s time for the next step!
You will now add the lead to the equation; because it is no longer the tool to “make” your dog walk nicely at your side. You have already practised (and achieved) that part! The lead is used to keep your “wolf” alongside you if it sees other distractions and to keep it safe from making mistakes until it learns the “way of the world.” A lot of social spaces demand that dogs be on leads; you and your dog can do this easily and happily now, because you have taught your dog that being by your side is a really nice place to be!
Once out in the world, remember you must keep letting your dog know you are still playing the game with the same encouragement of praise and some rewards. If your dog gets distracted by something, just stop and stand quietly, then change direction and call your dog to you, praising it when he comes.
Don’t set yourself or your dog up to fail.
Start with a 5-minute walk and – if all goes well – increase the walk time in increments (instead of going from 5-minutes to an hour walk in one single leap). How about doing two 10-minute walks instead of a 20-minute walk? This keeps things fun and fresh (for both of you!) and it’s probably easier for you to find the time in your day instead of taking a 20- or 30-minute block out of your busy schedule!
So, as you’ve seen, there really is no “secret” to having a well-mannered dog, it just takes some well-invested time, patience and knowledge at the beginning to be able to enjoy your walks with your dog for the rest of your time together.
OK there is another new life coming into your home in the next few months and you are worried that fido or Trixiebell isn’t going to be the centre of attention any more. Will they get on, will they be jealous of the new baby? How do you keep everyone happy? Can you cope?
The good news is that if the due date isn’t for a few months there is plenty of time to get prepared when it comes to your dog. They may already know something is going on as you are probably preparing a nursery or painting or doing some kind of preparation for the baby coming home, they’ve noticed.
Now is the time to put down some ground rules for when baby comes, NOT when baby actually comes home. This means that by then these ground rules for your dog should already be ingrained and a habit. Rather than, not only a new human comes home but now your dog isn’t allowed to do certain things it was always allowed to do before, then you really will have your hands full!
Think about it, you are going to be feeding your baby very regularly, changing, trying to get some sleep etc so start with some ‘no dog zones’. The bedroom is a start as you will be spending a lot of time in here with your baby and you don’t want the dog under your feet or looking for your attention when you are trying to deal with a screaming baby. If your dog has always slept in your room or on your bed it is time to give him his own place to sleep, somewhere where he can actually be out of the way of all the noise and commotion too.
Start thinking about your dog’s routine and how it will fit around the new baby’s routine. If you are going to be up early or late it might be worth thinking about changing his walking routine or feeding routine. Do it now and get him used to it before the baby comes, then his world doesn’t become unrecognisable and he then starts to panic at all the changes. Dogs need their routines just like babies.
If you aren’t sure you can cope with the walking on top of everything else, why not think of paying a dog walker to take Fido or Trixiebell out at the same time every day and then you don’t have to worry about that part at all!
Baby gates aren’t just for toddlers, baby gates are great for separating space but your dog can still see everyone and still feel part of the family and not shut out completely. Put these in place now so your dog can get used to them and obviously make sure that they can’t get over them! Best to find that out now. Then when you do come home with baby he can see what is going on and smell and hear everything.
When baby arrives, bring back a blanket or something that smells of the new baby so your dog can smell it, he’ll also smell the new baby off you too. This will mean he will be more familiar with the smell before the baby even enters the home.
When you come home with your new arrival go and get the baby settled before you worry about the dog. If you have been putting new routines in practise this should be one of the major ones. When you come home or you are moving about the house, spend time actively ignoring your dog. This may sound harsh but most dogs have been given the information from us that they are the centre of attention by us making so much eye contact with them. This is like saying hello and starting a conversation with a dog. The dog then wants to carry on the conversation. Attention seeking dogs will do anything to ‘catch your eye’ and start that conversation. So by actively ignoring your dog regularly, on a day-to-day basis, your dog will start to learn that they only get your attention when you are good and ready to and not before. When baby comes it really will be when you are ready and not before!
Lastly, the introduction. This doesn’t have to happen as soon as you arrive home. Everyone will be tired and the baby may be sleeping. Do this when you feel relaxed and you have some time, like in the evening. Put the dog on their lead while mum comes in with baby and gets settled. If your dog gets excited about his lead, drop it and leave the room. Give him a few minutes and come back in, you want your dog to be nice and calm, not in a heightened state of excitement. Keep doing this until Fido knows he isn’t actually going anywhere and is calm, then lead him into the room.
Sit in a chair away from mum and baby and ignore the dog. Just have a chat and relax and wait until Fido is relaxed to. If he starts getting too excitable, jumping or barking, just lead him back into another room and leave him again. He will soon learn he must be calm when he comes in where the baby is. If however fido remains calm after a 10 minutes in the room, move a little closer and sit and chat again. The idea is to eventually get to sit beside each other, with Fido on his lead being calm and relaxed. With some dogs this might happen in one session. With others this may take quite a few sessions.
They will get it eventually, you are teaching them how you wish them to behave around the baby and what is acceptable if they wish to remain in the room with you. Remember dogs take their cues from us and if we make nothing of it and are calm and relaxed, they will be too.
And finally, Never, Never leave a baby or small child unsupervised with your dog. This is as much for your dog’s safety as for your child. Your dog is an instinctive and reactive creature and should never be left to make a decision on it’s own when it comes to young and unpredictable infants and toddlers.
I hope this helps you have confidence in your dog and your baby being around one another. It can be done and there are so many benefits to having a dog around a home with children. It just takes a little thought and practise to do it right and get it right.
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Bernie – The Dog Owners Coach