Is your dog blowing you off? Does it feel like Fido is running the show and you're just watching? Or perhaps you are just tired of your pet's behavioral issues, or sick of spending money on training aids that never really seem to do anything. Hopefully, this article will shed some light on what you can do to create a better rapport with your dog.
Science is always filled with long, strange words. This particular one means giving human characteristics to non-human objects or creatures. Anthropomorphizing is one of the main reasons people fail when it comes to dog training, especially with little dogs. When we see our pets as children, our empathy blinds us and we begin to stress over the amount or manner in which we deliver discipline. This affects our pets deeply because dogs, being pack animals, thrive with structure. Without it, they are left to their own devices; that's when you start to see behavioral issues.
While you do not want to love you pets any less, remember that you cannot love them into respecting you. At the end of the day, they are animals, and as such they need to be treated accordingly. If we do not teach them respect, those pesky behavioral issues surface and cause a world of stress and frustration. This is exactly why you need to be able to separate yourself during training and remember you cannot expect your dog to decipher the meaning of every word, especially not without a demonstration of what we want.
So go ahead and love your dog to their very core, but keep in mind that your pet is not your child, and they need to learn and understand the rules of your household, no matter how adorable they may be.
Poorly timed corrections
When you first begin adding corrections as a form of discipline into your training, you may notice that they do not seem to be effective. If you come across this problem, you need to ask yourself a couple of questions:
- Are my corrections fair?
- Am I giving them in the proper timeframe?
- Does my dog understand the corrections?
You cannot punish a dog for something that they did hours prior to your discovery of the action. Dogs will simply not remember because they do not have the capacity to relate a punishment to something that they have long since forgotten about. In order to obtain the proper effect, a correction must be given within five seconds of the mistake that was made.
Corrections must be fair. During training, if you are trying to have your dog perform a sit and they don't comply (assuming that you have properly demonstrated what you're asking and have consistently paired the word to the action) a simply pop on the leash is enough for most dogs to understand that you're unhappy with their resistance and that it will not be tolerated.
In a healthy training relationship, practice both positive and negative reinforcement to get your message across the language barrier. If you merely bait, beg and bribe your dog into doing something, they will not listen to the given command if there is a reward of higher value than the same stale cookie in their sights. They have to know that there's more than just that boring treat at stake. In order to have a well-trained dog that listens no matter what the situation is, you must teach them that listening is in their best interest. To do that, you need trust and respect, which come from training and correcting in a fair and clear manner.
That is why making sure that your correction is as punctual as possible is so important. If you come home and smack your pup for digging in the garbage hours after the fact, all you're doing is teaching them to fear you because you could go off at any second. An atmosphere like that will create more problems than the lack of trust in your household. If you wish to have a dog that behaves well even when you're not around, then consistent structure is the only way to attain that.
Sit means sit
Consistency is key in training. If you give your dog a command, you do not have the option to let them choose whether or not they are going to comply. If you actively show your dog that they can blow you off, then you are teaching them that they can obey when they feel like it. Without follow-through with corrections, your dog learns that your word is not law, and they begin to realize that your rules of the house are more like preferences. Without consequences, they begin to make choices when all they should be doing is obeying.
So if you are sick of feeling like your dog doesn't listen to you, show them that disobedience is no longer an option. The next time you ask Fido to sit and she does not, you need to get up and work with her until she obeys. Hook on her leash, grab your treats and have her sit again and again until it's clear to her that there is no option in a command.
As always, you have to discover what works best for you and your pet, but if you're at a loss, try a few of these things. If you do not agree with these points, take it upon yourself to research dog behavior and pack structure in greater detail. More importantly than anything else, try to understand your pet in order to relate to and train them properly.