We went to obedience class and I thought he would outgrow this dog behavior after taking that class!
Ever caught yourself saying that? I guess you thought your job was done – right?
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Even when you are not training your dog, he is learning as he interacts with you and your family every day.
If you are not consistent with rules and personal space boundaries, your dog will begin to make up the rules as he sees fit. His perception of your inconsistencies (which is weak leadership) tells him its time to step up to the plate. What surfaces is dog behavior you don’t like.
In homes with no structure for the family dog and where personal space boundaries have no meaning, dogs begin to take advantage of every opportunity to get what they want when they want it.
In your home, perhaps you recognize some of these characteristics in your dog:
• Jumping on you and your house guests
• Jumping on the couch and into your lap without being invited
• Being overly mouthy when you try to pet
• Not coming when called inside the house
• Stealing your stuff
• Barking at people passing by and visitors when they enter your home
• These same dogs may also constantly nudge your hand for attention
These behaviors are really irritating so you correct your dog. But guess what happens next?
Your dog gets very frustrated when corrected for these dog behaviors as they challenge his leadership. Your corrections create frustration in your dog which builds anxiety and tension – causing stress. Stress causes behavior problems to surface as your dog’s way of relieving the stress.
And around and around we go.
So, where do you start?
If you’ve read this far and recognize all or some of these characteristics in your bossy dog, maybe its time for a wake-up call. No time like the present for dog training or owner training for that matter!
I recommend that the best way to get a handle on your dog problems is to make a list of everything your dog does that you don’t like (like the list above).
KEY STEP: Next to the inappropriate behavior, list what you would prefer your dog to do instead. Jumping is a good example. If your preference is to sit to greet, then this is what you must work on.
If counter-surfing while you are cooking in the kitchen is also on the list, maybe your preference is staying out of the kitchen or going to “place” on his dog bed. You should pick something that is realistic for your dog. For example, it might not be realistic for your dog to stay on his bed the entire time you are cooking. Reinforcing kitchen boundaries might work better for you and your dog.
Other areas on which to focus
In addition to working on each specific dog behavior problem, it only makes good sense to:
• Reinforce rules and expectations for your dog: sit for everything especially affection and expect good behavior where ever you have taught it (front door greetings, etc.)
• Reinforce your personal space boundaries: Don’t let your dog on the couch or in your lap unless invited.
• Exercise your dog with walks twice daily for 30-45 minutes. Exercise is a good stress buffer.
• Train with your dog on obedience commands of come, sit and down. Train 3 times daily for 2 minutes. Most everyone has 6 minutes of time for their dog.
After 4-6 weeks of consistent work on a plan, you should start seeing improvements in your dog.
Most behavior problems with dogs are stress related. Always look to the root cause and don’t simply address the symptom(s). When trying to figure out the “why” always remember to look to his environment or his relationship with you. It’s usually something you are doing (like too much petting) or are not doing (no structure or rules) that is the problem. Find the cause and cure the dog.
Thanks for letting me share my dog training knowledge with you. Don’t be a stranger. I’d love to hear what you think.
Remember: “Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”
Jim Burwell, Houston dog trainer for 25+ years, serving over 9000 clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad. Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.
His Ground Rules for Great Dogs is your must have, easy step-by-step process to helping your dog. Be the dog owner your dog needs to be a great dog. Ground Rules gets you there. Grab them now.