By Leatrice Miller-Natola,Certified Pet Dog Trainer
Your dog doesn’t listen to you. He’s impulsive, unruly. Walking anywhere with him on leash is a nightmarish battle. Off leash, he takes off and you worry he will one day get loose and vanish, get hit by a vehicle or any nightmare you can imagine for a lost, injured dog.
The fact is, you spend a lot of energy and time worrying about your dog. What would life be like if that worry was gone and your dog actually listened to you because he knows YOU are the best thing in his world….no matter what, no matter where.
Wow! And, yes, it ispossible for you and your dog. Really. However, here’s the rub: it’s not free. It requires investment from you in training, money, time and love (emotion). Without all of those ingredients, you will not achieve the relationship you desire with your dog. Period.
OK. WHAT NOW?
Dogs won’t follow angry, frustrated, tense, upset energy. Calm down and be happy. Smile at your dog. Change the tone of your voice to calm and happy and not excited happy. It’s amazing. Try it. Happy and calm.
JUST TRY IT:
Say NOTHING to your dog yet.
Take just a moment to get a few pieces of yummy food (some real beef, chicken, small amounts of cheese; something really enticing).
Then standing just a few steps from your dog, get really happy, bend at the waist, and call him like you are having a party!
Do that a few times moving around the house but remaining not too far from him.
If he walks away, clip a leash to his collar and let him drag it, but if he goes too far, gently bring him closer. You might also need to up the value of the treat to keep his attention.
Have fun. If you are having fun, so is your dog!
Stay close. He is just beginning to learn what you want from him.
Keep your expectations at the Kindergarten level. He isn’t ready for being 100 feet away yet.
Practice this enough, and he will eventually LOVE coming to you.
Yelling at your dog for NOT coming guarantees he won’t come. He knows you are upset and wants nothing to do with your angry frustrated energy.
ALWAYS reward a dog who comes to you! NEVER yell or be angry with the dog. It is our human world and ridiculous expectations that are causing the problem.
Far too often we expect our dogs to come to us when we haven’t bothered to teach him how to do it and then practiced it enough in enough different places for him to generalize the new behavior. Many timid dogs find it very difficult to come back to humans, especially when there is a lot of emotion going on in the human.
Slow down. Relax. Breathe.
Teach what you want to happen with really good rewards that your dog loves. With time and patience, your dog with learn and so will you!
Good leaders communicate clearly and consistently Clear communication is essential in training your dog. It is one of the reasons certified professional dog training is so invaluable.
You will learn to communicate in a clear consistent manner so your dog can understand what you want from her. If you do not bother to learn a language you can both share, then its like you being dropped in the middle of a foreign country with NOTHING at all to help you communicate with the people you encounter.
How do you find a bathroom? How do you find food? How do you find someone to care about you and your needs? Overwhelming! And that is where your over excited, over stimulated dog spends most of her life: just not understanding what you want and you not understanding that she
desperately wants to communicate with you but doesn’t know the language.
What dogs DO understand is body language. That is how they communicate, with some vocalizations included. A good dog training coach with help you develop consistent clear verbal and visual hand cues to help you and your dog communicate.
The visual hand cue is your dog’s bridge to understanding what your words and body language are trying to say to her.
Good leaders provide safe boundaries and rules
Leadership = the loving art of showing a dog how to be successful, NOT the art of letting a dog do whatever she wants.
Be proactive rather than permissive. Proactively set your dog up to be happy and successful where ever she is and whatever she is doing. Permissiveness results in dogs that are set up for failure do to the lack of active leadership from their humans. They can end up feeling frustrated and anxious everywhere they go.
When you became a dog guardian, you became obligated to have reasonable expectations for you dog. When you find yourself in a situation in which your dog is not performing as you hoped, ask yourself if your expectations for her are suitable for the situation, age, and breed of your dog.
Reasonable limits and boundaries must be designed to encourage and support good manners, good impulse control, calm, and an easy going attitude in the home and in public. In other words, avoid places, and situations your dog isn’t good at yet.
Experience success, then, over time, slowly and carefully push the boundaries in a calm, confident manner. Your dog wants you to lead her.
She doesn’t know that chewing the Christmas tree lights cord is dangerous. She doesn’t know that counter surfing can lead to her pulling down food stuff that can burn her.
She doesn’t know she shouldn’t eat her new bed because it could result in thousands of dollars in vet bills for you.
She doesn’t know that chasing a rabbit across the street can get her killed. She doesn’t know that barking at other dogs when she is walking causes you embarrassment.
She doesn’t know her muddy paws just ruined your brand new slacks for work.
DON’T YELL! It won’t help. She might look sad for a few moments. Her look is actually submissive behavior resulting from your anger. She has no idea WHY you are mad. So stop it. She isn’t learning.
Instead, YOU need to learn to train her properly so she knows jumping can only happen when YOU invite her to do it. She can join you on the couch when you invite her rather than having her rampage through the house like a torpedo, leaping onto the couch and repelling off the people sitting there causing injury to those unlucky enough to find themselves in the path of hurricane dog!
KEEP YOUR DOG SAFE!
Keeping your dog safe may mean that you need to protect her from herself, as well as from you. Sometimes our best intentions are NOT what is best for our dog. For instance, many people want to let their dogs off leash without the proper training to ensure a solid recall (Come).
Too often, it ends in disaster. The intention is good. However, it’s a really bad, very unsafe idea. What your dog doesn’t know can, in fact, kill her. It is your job as her guardian to make sure she is safe everywhere she goes whether at home or in public.
NO EXCUSES! Keep her safe. Keeping her safe means you are willing to use a crate not as a punishment place, but rather as a time out place where she can get calm, rest, relax, and be safe when you aren’t home, or the home environment is just too much for her at the moment.
If you’re having trouble, either you are doing it wrong or your dog may have a history of crate abuse. Other solutions are available. Leashes are a necessity if you have a dog.
If your dog is struggling on leash, go learn how to get better at teaching her how to walk nicely on a leash. Leashes and crate/containment are simply fundamental to the safety of your dog. Once again, no excuses. The point here is simply that it is your obligation upon adopting your dog that you keep her safe. There are lots of ways that can be achieved.
Again, being happy and fun when training a dog to walk nicely or to go joyfully into a crate is the way to go!
Another aspect of providing structure for your dog involves problem solving for your dog. You are the solution to every problem your dog encounters. It is your job to be the solution so your dog never has to solve his own concerns, fear or anxiety. When dogs try to resolve their own concerns, it can result in very bad consequences for everyone involved.
The way to do that is to ALWAYS set your dog up to be successful! For
instance, I have a dog who is loosing his hearing. We live in the country. My husband takes the dog out off leash. The dog gets just a little too far away.
Result: husband yelling at the dog to come. The dog is mostly DEAF! However, even though he is mostly deaf, he can feel the energy my husband is sending his way and he just won’t come. Dogs wait until you calm down. I see this over and over again in the way my clients handle their dogs. Just stop yelling. Instead, go get the dog and realize he simply can’t do off leash anymore.
Considering he is 12 years old and a very large breed, that’s ok. In human terms, he’s about 93! Grandpa Buzz needs a leash! Simple and now everyone is happy and actually the dog FEELS better because he knows what is expected.
ALL DOGS WANT TO FEEL SAFE! Physically safe and emotionally safe….yes, dogs need emotional safety too! So it might mean that at least for right now, your dog is not a candidate for off leash activities. Just use a long leash.
Done. He will still have fun while giving you the opportunity to train a really awesome, “Come!” Always think about what you want to do with your dog before doing it. Then plan it to ensure the dog experiences SUCCESS!
Confident, calm leaders solve problems in a positive, productive and safe way Giving your dog choices is great when the dog is in a situation where those choices are not going to get him in trouble.
Otherwise, take charge and guide your dog through the situation with as much patience, joy and fun that you can muster!
WHAT TO DO INSTEAD OF YELLING
Train your dog!
Find a good, certified trainer and yes, pay actual money to train your dog. Again, you are investing in your dog. Being a dog guardian means you must INVEST in that dog in ALL the same ways that you invest in all your other relationships. Like any other family member you must build a healthy relationship with your dog by investing the time and money to educate and love them.
Otherwise, you and your dog are set up to fail. Ignorance is not an excuse to have an ill mannered, overexcited, lunatic of a dog. There are excellent options to help you. Get the help. Stop making excuses.
Play: make training and interactions with your dog FUN! Check out Absolute Dogs! They are amazing and tons of fun!
Check out this video from Absolute Dogs about impulse control and how to calm that dog down! https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=10155917741722370
Think BANK: Invest time in your dog and he will totally put all his money on YOU!
Distractions cease to have an attraction for the dog if they are INVESTED in you and the fun they are guaranteed to have just by following you.
Article regarding studies about negative coaching:
Angry Coaches Beware: Athletes respond poorly to negative feedback,
By ALEX HUTCHINSON
SPECIAL TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL
PUBLISHED OCTOBER 28, 2012
UPDATED MARCH 26, 2017
Victoria Stillwell, Positively: Where You Lead, I will Follow, by Debby McMullen
Absolute Dogs Dog Training