Training your dog really is the answer. Ever felt like giving up when your dog doesn’t behave? These tips are for you.
For the hundredth time of apologising to someone because their muddy feet have planted splatty paw prints on their clean clothes? When their dog sits perfectly at their side? When your family or neighbours raise their eyebrows at your so-called best friend, as he barks his head off at another dog, or the postman?
Been there, done that many times when helping my clients. The key is – stick at it.
There is no secret to training your dog. We all learn in similar ways, but our wages are different. Human wages are usually money, which in itself has no meaning. It is what we can DO with money that matters. Dog ‘wages’ can be food, toys, play, freedom, allowing them to sniff, allowing them to meet people, and so on.
Countless times I am told that ‘food and toys don’t work with my dog’. I have seen many that aren’t that motivated. However, they must be motivated by something or they would not have a problem! What changes is the skill in using the rewards, and for how long we stick to the plan. When you are training your dog, you need to know that skill.
Be patient. Decide that your dog is going to learn to sit every time he is thinking about doing something you do not want. Remember; ‘thinking about’, not actually doing! A guide dog does not wait until its handler walks into a lamppost before steering them away. Do not wait until your dog is in trouble before reacting. Why? You can see what is about to happen, and can react long before your dog does. Training your dog is all about pre-emption.
If you say ‘My dog always barks at cats, but I don’t see the cats before it is too late’ you usually do know where the cats hang out, and can start to work towards that as a known distraction. Dog training is all about context! If your dog jumps up at visitors to your home, arrange some to come round and teach your dog to sit in advance on a mat placed in the hall. To get the visitors to greet him, your dog has to stay sitting or no greeting.
Practice a lot – and I mean, a LOT – in advance – this is an effort, but you want results. They won’t happen magically! Ten repeats of one exercise every day will give you a lot of practice in just a week, so don’t avoid this and then blame the dog. This is what training your dog really is after all. It is not ‘dog ignoring’. Remember, you are their carer and guide, and they like you. Why not make an effort to help them live in our daft human society?