Monday, August 5

The Power of Working Your Dog

With each training I do, I try to impress one major point of my training philosophy on my clients and that is the power of working your dog.  Having a life where they work for everything and nothing is free.  I see it time and time again how this one little tweak in how you interact with your dog can allow you to have a leg up on many other bad or annoying behaviors.

The issues I deal with range from very simple puppy training to complex aggression or fear cases.  No matter what the real issue is, the first thing that has to happen is to get the control out of your dog's paws!  When you control every aspect of your dogs life, they will stop trying to control everything.

Most of the time when I go into a home where the dog is "out of control", it is really a matter of the owner having no control rather than the dog being out of control.  Simple things like making your dog work for their food.  That could be bite by bite or a simple routine they do before the bowl goes in front of them.  Either way, they work for it, the food is not offered for free or just left on the floor for them to graze whenever they like.

Walking is another hot point.  You as the owner should decide where to turn, where to walk, when to stop and sniff and how fast or slow the pace.  Allowing your dog to stop and sniff every tree, post and trash can and set the pace and go where ever they like is not a structured walk.  Also, allowing your dog to rush up and meet every dog is a bad habit to set.  Every walk should be controlled by you, the only thing your dog should decide is when to go to the bathroom, but even then, you will decide where.

Greeting dogs is a privilege, not a right for a dog.  Also, not every dog needs or wants to meet every other dog.  Be careful!  If a dog is barking and lunging and they are a stranger to your dog, move on it will not be a good meeting.  If your dog is a very friendly, maybe overly friendly dog, teach them how to say hello politely, don't just allow them to rush into the face of another dog or jump all over them.  Remember, part of being an owner to a dog is teaching them right from wrong, including manners.

By applying the simple principle of working for everything, you will see a difference in how your dog reacts to you and their environment.  But this has to be a life choice, you cannot do this for a few weeks or months and expect the changes you would if this is your dog's life.  They want to work, so let them and get ready for a happier dog and a happier home.