Expectations of fast dog training results, especially fixing behavior problems, has been heavily influenced by not only television shows on dog training but our own fast-paced living and expectations of getting things done. Having things fixed at warp speed. It’s a way of life!
And with our dogs, it’s no different. They are, of course, there for us. We spoil them rotten, then dog behavior problems develop and we want it fixed now – without putting in the effort or giving anything up.
As I have often said, if you let a dog age with no purpose – no structure – no reason for being except for your own personal needs, behavior problems will develop that you won’t like. Fixing the problem is like asking your dog to come off welfare and go to work. He will resent being asked to go to work and have a purpose. Now you must do what’s best for your dog, not for you.
That’s how many folks are with fixing their dog behavior problems. They spent years helping their dog to collect all this “emotional baggage” with just an “Oops, how did that happen?” and now want it to go away with a magic wand or the snap of their or my fingers. As long as it’s done fast
I was lamenting to my architect brother about this and surprisingly it’s the same in his field. Clients wait until the last minute, give him a call and pop an impossible deadline in front of him.
But as he so aptly put it, you can’t build a house without first laying a strong foundation. Then you build from there with walls and a roof. It will last a lot longer if you do it correctly.
Dog training or fixing dog behavior problems is no different. Owners are so results-oriented they don’t think about laying a strong foundation or as I call it – Ground Rules for Great Dogs.
Foundation work doesn’t have to be this impossible task to where you think you actually need a magic wand. It actually can be fun – if you make it fun.
How do you make it fun and easy?
Being in a positive frame of mind always helps. Never train in a bad mood. If you feel yourself getting impatient, end your training on a high note – a quick happy sit will do and end the session.
As your dog gets better with his commands while using food, think about weaning off food by using toys. Your dog does a good recall, then a sit and a down after which he gets to fetch his favorite stuffie. I’ve always said to keep your training sessions short, fun and upbeat. It’s good for you and good for your dog.
I think that if you start each training session with a quick 1 minute play session it will loosen your dog up and get him in the right frame of mind to want to work with you because you’re fun!
You can also incorporate sits and downs into your daily life with your dog. I will sometimes surprise our lab Sammy as I walk down the hallway by stopping and immediately getting him to do doggie push-ups. You know, sit/down/sit/down and then continue on my way. He thoroughly enjoys these impromptu interactions and really looks forward to me surprising him.
If you have behavior problems, just organize your approach by listing the problem behavior, then what causes your dog to do the inappropriate behavior and finally what you would prefer your dog to do instead.
A good example is jumping on visitors. Visitors cause your dog to jump and you would prefer your dog to sit to greet. Now that’s a training plan. Begin teaching your dog to sit to greet. Teach him first at a distance and on leash so that you can reinforce what you want him to do. Practice makes perfect.
It makes sense to list all the behaviors on which you want to work and what you want your dog to do. Train your dog to do what you want. Just don’t get overwhelmed by thinking everything needs to be done this week. Chip away one behavior at a time. Before you know it, you’ll have your end result and everyone will have had a good time.
So, instead of spending time focusing on the end result, discover the benefit of being in the process. The process can be fun. It doesn’t have to be difficult. Also know that learning is in the doing – not necessarily in the outcome.
And it’s when you are in the process of teaching (and learning from your dog) that you gradually begin to change how your dog begins to look at and respond to you. Don’t miss what’s actually going on here.
Listen to your dog. He is your teacher. He will tell you what is wrong. You have to be receptive to him and what he is telling you.
Focus on your foundation work. You’ll be glad you built a strong foundation.
Thanks for stopping by and letting me share my dog training knowledge with you. I truly hope you found answers and hope for helping your dog. Don’t be a stranger. I’d love to hear what you think. Please come over to my Facebook page to let me know how this article impacted you and the way you think about training. Are you looking at it a little differently? Remember:
“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.