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!
Did you find this article interesting? Let us know by leaving a message below and sharing it with other dog owners too!
I am going to start with a truth which I tell all my clients; Not all dogs are treated equally. Small dogs get away with a lot more ‘undesirable or bad’ behaviour than big dogs. In fact I would put it to you that owners put up with 3 or 4 times the amount of bad behaviour in a small dog than they would tolerate with a larger dog.
Does your pet have a favourite spot on the sofa or your bed? Of course they do as I’m sure you do. We are all creatures of habit. But are the habits good or bad ones?
I know clients who have had to race to bed before their large dog got there or they would end up sleeping on a sliver of mattress. Or their favourite chair is no longer Their favourite chair it is now the dog’s favourite chair.
When I ask these owners as to why they have given up their comfort or beloved favourite spot they always answer with ‘it makes them happy’ and have a kinda dreamy look on their face as they look at their darling pooch sprawled in luxury and snoring lazily on the said favorite chair or sofa spot, while they take the ‘less favoured’ positions around the room.
Is this such a big deal? I hear you ask, does it really matter?
Well the answer is Yes, to both those questions because the canine is a species, much like ourselves who lives in a family orientated structure. Much like our own. Within this structure is the people or animals that look after the rest of the family, mum and dad, grandparents, the older, more experienced family members. Were you ever told as a child to not touch that as it was granddad’s or get up and let your mum sit down? That’s because there are certain benefits or perks to having a responsible role in the family. Why not, you look after the family, you bring home a wage to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads. You keep them safe.
So lets look at it from the dog’s point of view. If the human gives out a lot of signals that are inconsistent, like for instance, they let you up on the sofa beside them for cuddles, great! Next day is the same. The following day you’re not allowed up but you wait til they go out of the room and you sneak on. Your human returns and sits back down and cuddles you again, great! What is your dog learning? That you know your own mind and have rules it needs to follow or that you are a bit of a push over?
Lets add to that. What if your dog has taken on the role of the responsible one for the family, you, your husband or wife, the kids and the cat? What if your dog took his role very seriously about the safety of his family. He chases off trespassers (barks out the window or in the garden), he takes you all out for a walk (he pulls on the lead and has bad recall), bringing you back safe. He might even tell you off if you over-step the mark (by growling or even nipping you). Wouldn’t you want the most prized position in the house for doing that job?
I hate to be the one to break this to you but you are probably not the real decision maker of the family in your household if any of that last paragraph sounded any way familiar to you. Dogs, like humans need boundaries and rules. If there are none of these in place as the dog grows up and matures they will make up their own set of rules to create some kind of structure to their lives, just as we would in a group of human strangers. It is in our instincts and our dogs to have someone in charge to keep the young and the weak safe. With someone making decisions and rules, everyone knows their place and hopefully everyone will survive.
So what if your dog doesn’t see you as that someone?
Usually some sort of chaos ensues in the household as the dog starts making up the rules as he goes along. Remember a dog with little or no experience of the world will be learning everything from scratch. He learns that the approaching footsteps to his door makes him uncomfortable and feel threatened so he starts to bark, the footsteps retreat (most likely the postman, paperboy or delivery man) and the dog has just learnt a valuable lesson. Barking makes the stranger go away.
So if you become your dog’s responsibility, in his eyes. Does it make sense that he feels he has to follow you around the house, especially as you sometimes have the habit of disappearing, sometimes for hours, and then re-appearing again? Does it make sense he feels the need to rush ahead and see what’s on the other side of the door, or that bush, or around the next bend in the path? He’s only doing his job! Right?
If any of this has made sense to you as you’ve read it and thought about it, make one rule today that you will stick to. The dog is only allowed on the bed/ sofa/ chair on your terms and when he is invited and be consistent.
He will love and respect you for it.
Read more about Consistency is the key to Success
Please feel free to leave a comment if you found this article useful or you are having trouble taking back your sofa!
Bernie, The Dog Owners Coach
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