“I want a dog that that will do what I want when I want it. And not because he has to, but because he wants to.” You can have that, but “good dog behavior takes work”
To train your dog to that level of obedience, you have to really get to know your dog – what turns him on and what motivates you dog.
My experience is that dogs are a little like people in that they have their own personality, and what works with one will not necessarily work with another.
Ideally, good dog behavior should begin the day you bring your new puppy or dog home. You should take advantage of the honeymoon period. That’s the period where your new puppy or dog is laying low, as he “assesses the relationship with you.” You, on the other hand are thinking, “What a really nice dog, he’s really low key!” All the while he is intently watching everything you do carefully programming it into his memory for use later on.
What could he possibly be programming into his doggie brain? Here’s a short list. I’m certain you can add to it if you watch your dog carefully.
• He nudges and you pet.
• He barks and you let him out of the crate.
• He barks and you feed him.
• He barks and you let him outside and then back inside when he barks.
• He brings you a ball and you throw it for him.
Remember, your dog is learning even when you are not teaching. He’s mainly learning who’s doing what for whom. Better put, who’s running the show?
If, from day one, you set the rules to live by in your home, things will go much better for your dog training. Develop expectations so your dog understands what to give you to get what he wants. This will better pave the way to a dog that will do what you want when you want it – because “he wants to.”
Let’s take the come command. This is an important command for your dog to know, yet I’ll bet most of you do not have a dog that will turn on a dime and come to you.
Getting your dog to come when called because he wants to takes work. I’ll bet you have taken your dog to a group class to learn basic obedience like the come command. You’re very proud because your dog performs beautifully.
But then you go home and try to get your dog to come to you and it’s like he’s never heard that command before in his life.
You see, teaching the come command around other dogs and owners does not necessarily mean that your dog will perform in your home the same way.
The distractions at home are very different. It is only after repetitive training in each setting that your dog eventually listens well in both scenarios.
In addition to the repetitive work teaching the command, it is important to keep a couple of more tips in mind – kind of like we did when we trained Sammy. Let’s take a look.
• We never associated anything negative with the come command. Sammy always associates love, praise and good things with the come command. We started the day we got him. Even in the back yard we didn’t want Sammy to consider coming in the house as a negative. We would frequently call Sammy to the back door, praise and treat him and then send him back to play.
• We learned that animating ourselves and using high pitched voices motivated Sammy. We knew we had lots of competition out in the real world and we needed to know Sammy felt that coming to us was better than anything – even the distraction.
• We always practiced on a long line before attempting to go “off-leash.” This included around distractions as well.
• We kept a very special high value food treat – one he never got at any other time available for only the come command.
Getting immediate responses to commands without doubt or hesitation just takes hard work.
There is no substitute for good repetitive quality obedience training. There is also no substitute for having a quality relationship with your dog. If done correctly your dog’s response will become automatic without thinking.
Your dog is truly invested in the relationship with you. He knows that giving you the best that he’s got will in turn give him the best that you’ve got.
That, my friends, will get you a dog that will do “what you want when you want it. He will also do it because he wants to.”
I’m always curious about your input – it’s important to me.
We’re always learning and there’s a bunch of you out there we are grateful to be able to serve and learn from.
I’m really interested in your thoughts and opinions on this. I’m here to help.
“Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”
Jim Burwell, professional dog trainer for 25+ years, serving 8700+ 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 the culmination of these years of training into an easy, step-by-step process so that your dog understands what you expect of him, you empower him to be able to give you the behavior you want and you empower him to be successful at living in a human home.