I already knew that…

May 21, 2015 at 12:13 pm
dognitive therapy 
Laura V
Dogs don’t need a human to teach them how to do behaviours they innately already know. Does a dog already know how to sit, lie down, or stand up? Yes I believe they do. I think there needs to be a shift in the way we conduct obedience classes, puppy schools and general training to instead of dis-empowering dogs by telling them when they can sit or drop; empower them to think for themselves and offer behaviours they know we’d love them to do.

I don’t often ask my dog Chester to sit, or drop, or stand. He simply knows what I want because I have created routines where he can predict what I have taught him is safe and what I would like him to do. When he offers the behaviour, he gets rewarded for it.

Instead of traditional means of training, I’d like to see people capture the things they want. I tell my audiences and clients that dogs do something great at least 50 times a day without being asked. They may sit for you, they may be calm on their bed, they may see that dog in the distance and NOT bark. Catch the moment and reward it. Think from your dog’s point of view and give them a chance to feel a sense of control in this crazy world.

The main cause of unwanted behaviours is anxiety and I do believe it is because of inconsistent training, whereby dogs simply don’t understand what their owner wants, or are given mixed messages about what they are allowed to do and are put in situations where they are set up for failure.

If you know your dog is reactive to other dogs, putting them in an off leash dog park is setting them up for failure. If you respect where your dog is coming from you will cooperate with them and take them to a place where they are at a comfortable distance and when they make good choices such as not lunging, not barking, but rather looking to you or sitting; capture the moment and reward them. By approaching training this way, you gain your dog’s trust and respect.

Would you trust someone who dragged you into a dark alley with 10 people who all have knives? I wouldn’t either. It doesn’t mean that any of those people would hurt you, BUT you don’t know that and perhaps previously, you were attacked in a similar situation.

When you start to empower your dog, your relationship will change, in that your dog will start to behave in ways that you only dreamt of. There is no point in Chester behaving poorly because he never gets what he wants, and he is never forced into a situation where he feels he needs to. Of course, you can never guarantee that you and your dog are 100% set up to win every day. Life gets in the way and dogs can jump out in front of you, or a truck can make a loud noise right where you are standing. BUT if you gain that trust and respect with your dog in general, when this happens, instead of taking things into their own hands, your dog will stop and look to you. At that moment, you have your dogs trust. Trust is something that can only be earned by empowering your dog, setting them up to win and being fair. When you have your dogs genuine trust, you have a well behaved happy and balanced dog.

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