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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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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Who doesn’t love Christmas?! A time of fun, laughter and over-indulgence. We get to share more quality time with the ones we love as well as enjoy some relief from the daily grind!
It’s no wonder we all love Christmas!
But please remember, if you are a pet owner, keep in mind that this holiday season also represents new, different and enticing dangers to your beloved family pet; both inside and outside your home. Keep reading to learn how to keep your pet not only safe, but healthy during this festive season.
- At the top of the list is Chocolate and Mince Pies. Human chocolate and raisins are highly toxic to your dog; they can cause liver damage – and even failure – if ingested in large amounts. So make sure your child or guest hasn’t left that tempting box of chocolates lying around. Keep those tasty treats well out of nose and mouth reach of your pooch! Remember: dogs investigate and learn by smell and then by tasting or eating. Protect your beloved animal from the temptation of new and interesting holiday smells! Invited friends over to celebrate? Pop your dog into a quiet room with a nice tasty (and healthy) treat of his own and let him enjoy the peace and quiet in this busy season. (Onions, rising bread dough, fruit cake, macadamia nuts and nutmeg are other traditional Christmas foods that can hurt your beloved four-legged family member.)
- Alcohol. Yes, this might seem like an obvious danger; but did you know that 1 in 4 vets treat drunk dogs over the festive season?! So ask your visitors to keep their drinks on tables or counters and not on the floor by their feet. Put all empty drinks containers in a solid bin, rather than just a bin bag that’s no match for an inquisitive dog. Remember, your dog’s liver and kidneys can be affected by any amount of alcohol.
- Anti-freeze and road grit. These items are highly toxic to our pets. When you return from a walk where roads or pathways have been treated for snow and ice, make sure to thoroughly wash off your dog’s paws, legs and bellies rather than let him lick them clean himself. The chemical agents in these treatments are meant to keep roads and the water in your car’s cooling system from freezing, but these chemicals will kill your pet within hours if ingested. Keep all anti-freeze (typically blue, but may come in other colors too) out of reach of children and animals in your garage and clean up any and all leaks of anti-freeze on the garage floor.
- Christmas Plants: Holly (leaves and berries) Mistletoe and Poinsettia. While beautiful for the holiday, if even pieces of these plants are ingested by your pet, they can cause vomiting, stomach upset and blisters in the mouth … in mild cases. In extreme cases, eating these berries or plants can be fatal to your pet. So always keep these plants up high and away from your pet and make sure to remove any loose berries that may dry out and break off. If you have cats in your home, be mindful of their climbing abilities and purposely keep these plants out of their climbing range. Regular or liquid potpourri can also pose health risks to your pet.
- Your Christmas Tree. If you’re putting up a real tree in your home, make sure your dog doesn’t try to pee on it, especially with electrical wires and lights around! Pine needles can also pose a danger to inquisitive noses and mouths and end up in soft paw pads; so make sure to keep vacuuming these up on a daily basis or you may find yourself making an unscheduled trip to your vet. Never let your dog drink any treated Christmas tree water!
- Decorations: Glass Baubles, Garland and Blinking lights. Shiny, colourful and eye-catching; these enticing items can be easily mistaken for toys by your dog and could be dangerous if swallowed. So spend some time letting your dog know that the tree – and everything on or under it – is out-of-bounds by saying “No” and then using a distraction technique to get Fido to find something else more interesting – like you or a real toy! Use a timeout if your dog continues to go back again and again to the tree. (Remember, when using the timeout technique, do not speak or look at your dog; so your dog does not receive any reward for his unacceptable behaviour.)
- Food. Leftovers are always a sign of a plentiful Christmas; but immediately double-bag and bin ANY cooked bones as these are highly dangerous. Cooked bones become brittle and porous and can quickly disintegrate into razor-sharp edges getting stuck in your dog’s mouth, throat or intestines, even perforating their insides! If you wish to give your dog a nice juicy bone, please feed it raw with some nice meat still on it which will keep him busy for hours. ALL bones for chewing MUST be bigger than your dog’s mouth; or better yet, at least the size of your dog’s head, to avoid the chance of choking on smaller bones. Don’t overload your dog’s bowl with lots of rich, salty food. Dog’s stomachs cannot properly digest too much fatty, rich or salty food. Instead, freeze some Xmas treats in small amounts and let your dog enjoy some holiday tastes well into the New Year!
- Toys. Make sure all small toys, or pieces of toys, that can be easily chewed or swallowed are kept away from small children as well as your pets to protect them from choking. Keep an eye on those tiny surprises that come out of the Christmas cracker boxes, etc. If you are getting your pet a present this holiday season, please make sure it is made of hard rubber – rather than plastic, which can be quickly chewed and swallowed. For example, Kongs make a great indestructible pressie! Stuff with some leftovers and then freeze to keep your dog busy for a few hours while you’re relaxing and watching your Xmas movies! (Reminder: no toy is truly indestructible, especially with larger dogs and enthusiastic chewers. Always keep an eye on your dog with any toy.)
- Ribbons, String and Tinsel. While wrapping your presents or trimming the tree, make sure your pet isn’t trying to eat your wrappings or tinsel like spaghetti! Long pieces of these materials are indigestible and can cause intestinal distress and vomiting or even worse, get stuck in your dog’s digestive tract and have to be surgically removed by your vet.
- Candles. We all love the soft glow of candles at this time of year. But again, be aware of your pet’s never-ending curiosity; they don’t necessarily know that a naked flame can cause them harm. Make sure candles are in firm holders or behind glass and are high enough that your dog or cat can’t knock it over.
After all that being said,
I hope you all have a wonderful and safe Christmas and a Happy New Year!
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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!
Why should a dog respond to you in an instant? Could there be a few reasons why training isn’t what you expected? Great insight and making you think on your feet from Nicole.
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Visit my website at http://www.4dogenterprises.com
I’ve seen it way too many times. An owner has asked a dog to do something, and the dog doesn’t do it…so the owner repeats the request more loudly. (Have I mentioned that dogs can hear a potato chip hit the carpet in the next room? The dog heard the cue the first time!) If the dog still doesn’t comply, the owner gets frustrated, or perhaps even angry. Depending on what the person feels is acceptable human behavior, the dog may then get jerked, shaken, or worse.
Why do we become so upset when dogs don’t comply with our requests? Well, for one thing, we anthropomorphize. We think, He blew me off! Or She’s just being stubborn! The truth is, dogs don’t do what we want when we want for a variety of reasons. Here are just a few possible scenarios:
1. The dog simply doesn’t know the behavior well…
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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.
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