Dog Behavior Problems and Your Personal Space Part 2: Practice Makes Perfect

Yesterday, I covered the “Law of the Dog.” This law states dogs recognize leaders who control resources like food, toys, fun and personal space. This applies to their human housemates as well. In short, if your dog is able to come into your personal space at will and take something of value like food or affection, your dog thinks he is running the show.

This would be bad enough, but the consequence of this is that your dog won’t listen to your commands in any other situation. So, let’s talk about how to fix this common dog behavior problem.

Let’s look at a hypothetical situation. A toddler is in the family room eating a cookie when the cookie breaks in half and falls to the floor in the dog’s space.

You may get very tense at what your dog might do to your toddler because to the dog if it’s in his space, it’s his – but your toddler doesn’t know this.

My guess is that you hope your dog will step back and take a relaxed sit, wagging his tail. Wouldn’t that be a great out come? It takes a little work to achieve this but here’s how you would do it.

Stand in the middle of a room with something of high value like a stuffed Kong toy.

Drop it on the floor behind you and block your dog from getting it.

When he finally relaxes and sits, click and treat him.

Expand the exercise to other high value items your dog likes – yes, even use cookies if that is relevant to your (and your dogs) situation.

Now here’s the key: Don’t use any command words at all. Just stand there and wait until your dog sits patiently.

By not using words or having any emotions in the process of this exercise, your dog begins to react to your body language. Of course your dog must be able to sit.

Gotta teach the basics!

Now practice with other family members as well using many different things of high value to your dog. And remember, practice makes perfect!

(C) Jim Burwell 2010

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