Training a dog does not end at obedience training. Obedience training has it’s place because those are tools that your dog will use but I think it also means adopting a lifestyle that considers your dogs true needs over yours. EVERY interaction with our dog is essentially a training moment. Everyday day our dogs are reacting to how we interact with them, you may have heard the saying “You get what you pet”. If not, let me explain.
Living with dogs can be fun but it is also requires us to be aware of how we are around them. Dogs require us to be conscience of our interactions because they use that as information to navigate us and the things around them. We must be aware of how we influence them in both good and bad ways.
For example, when you come home from work and your dog is so excited to see you that they are jumping up on you. Perhaps they are in the crate and they are all wiggly wanting to get out. To us humans, we can translate these actions as them being happy to see us. While this excitement may look like a dogs way of showing love, it is in fact a state of mind that is adrenalized. If we were to open crate at that time, we are telling them that is what we want and to do that behavior in order to get what they want. On the flip side, if we wait for them to calm down and then acknowledge what they want, we are telling them that this is the state of mind we like and this will get you want.
The reason we teach calmness here at the training center all the time is because it is easy to get our dogs excited. A simple look in there direction, a high pitched voice, or a toy can get dogs amped and excited. It is another challenge to get them to be calm.
This is where the lifestyle change I am talking about comes into the picture. Owning a dog isn't just about taking your dog on a walk and giving them a comfy spot to lay on, that is a given, the lifestyle is the little things. The small little nuances that are behind the scenes is where the magic happens. If you make your dog wait on place until they relax and then call them over for some pets or you wait until they have calmed down in the crate to let them out. These simple things let them know what it is we want and also teaches them how to behave in order to get they want.
We as dog owners owe it the dog the to help them navigate this artificial world we have brought them into. They can’t rely on instinct anymore because that instinct can cause a dog to react in a way that is not in line with what we want. When not given direction they will use what they know instinctually. So it is up to us to show them with etiquette on how to behave so they can live happy stress free lives.
- When you allow your dog to pull towards everything it likes you are training them to do that.
- When you allow your dog to play with every dog it sees you are training them that it is ok to play with every dog it sees.
- When you allow your dog to pull towards other humans you are training them to get affection from every human it sees.
These examples can be problematic because it doesn't fit into real world situations. Do you act impulsively and say hi to everyone on the street in a crazy way, Do you run up and steal a toy when someone was playing with it? Do you do what you want when you want? The answer is probably no because we have social ettiequte. Maybe at some times these things are ok, but the distinction is that there is a time and a place for everything. The same goes for our dogs. They need to be shown what to do by us so they know what to do when life happens inside and outside the home. I like people and enjoying talking to them but I don't need to say hi to everyone I walk past. If I did I wouldn't make it out side my house.
I feel we all get dogs to include them in our lives, but how can you include a dog that can’t hold a down at a cafe because of the other people and dogs there. How can you include your dog if your arm hurts every time you walk them. You won’t enjoy the time at the coffee shop with your dog because you’re spending all your time pulling them back and you certainly won’t enjoy the walk. If it gets to be too much perhaps and the next time they are left at home or they don’t go on walks anymore. The truth is, your dog does not need to play with every dog to be balanced, they do not need to interact with every human to be balanced. They really only need YOU and the other stuff can be thought of as a bonus.
Dog training is a 24/7 gig that gets easier over time because your dog gets conditioned to how you interact with them, but none the less you are supposed to be there to lead them and show them what to do and what not to do.