Friday, January 13, 2017
Now let me ask you this. Can your dog do the above calmly, patiently and willingly? Can your dog hold the position until you release them? Can your dog wait patiently by your side while you talk to a neighbour? Can your dog willingly, and on their own, lay calmly on the floor while you watch a movie?
I speak to many people who have been through training classes who insist that there dog knows how to sit, down and do all of the basics, but I come to find out that the dog does it on his terms, and typically only for a second or two, until they decide they are done. I see these dogs who have little patience and little self control and are either only interested in food, or only interested in what they perceive as external rewards.
The problem here isn't necessarily the sit, down or what ever else exercise the dog is performing. The problem lies with the dog never having been taught self control, patience and to yeild in the first place.This is something that lacks in a lot of training programs. Too much emphasis is put on the actual position, the "trick" and getting the reward in there, but not enough emphasis is put on how to live with the dog, how to communicate better, how to teach the dog self control and patience.
Self control is one of the most important factors in having a well behaved dog. And when I say well behaved, that doesn't necessarily mean that their obedience is perfect (no such thing anyway), rather, it means that the dog is polite, patient, controlled and will yeild when needed. Obedience training itself doesn't always achieve this, in fact, if you only work on the basics, but put zero focus on behaviour, you may create a dog who can perform, but is a real pain in the butt to live with, or one who is wound up so tight to get to a reward, that calm doesn't even enter their vocabulary.
When training your dog obedience wise, you need to look at things you may not be aware of, that are extremely important to the state of mind that you are rewarding. It doesn't matter if you use food, toys, play, voice or physical praise, you need to be aware of your dogs state of mind/behaviour when you reward. Did you release your dog from a down when he was shaking and whinning, dying to get up? Well guess what, you just rewarded your dog for being impatient. Did you release your dog just as she started to move from a sit, so you wouldn't have to follow through because it's just easier that way? Guess what, you just rewarded your dog for breaking position. Did you give your dog heavy eye contact or soft verbal encouragement while they were whinning in the sit stay or on place? Yup, you guessed it. You just rewarded your dog for lack of self control. I could go on endlessly with examples like the ones above, but I think that you get the point.
But the issues don't stop there. Owners are continually and inadvertently rewarding their dogs inappropriate, impatient, impolite, hyper behaviours without even realizing. it. Do you talk to your dog or look at them when they demand you do it? I'm sorry to say, the dog is training you, and your are rewarding them for doing it. Does barking and whining get your dog out of the crate? Sigh, yes you have rewarded the noise, and undermined your work on patience. Do you give your dog a little pet when they jump up, just before you push them off? That little pet is reward enough for them to impolitely jump again.
So how do you fix all this? Teach your dog his demands will not be met. Teach your dog that inappropriate behaviours don't work to garner attention. Teach your dog that you will not release them from a stationary position until they are calm (excluding when they are first learning an exercise). Teach your dog that there are house rules that are to be followed. Teach your dog that you are not at their beck and call. Teach your dog to handle being bored. Teach your dog to just be.
I believe, now-a-days, that a good number of people don't know how to handle being bored or just "being", and that many are lacking patience and self control in this immediate satisfaction type world we now live in. This can easily be translated down to the dog (and guess what, your kids too). If you give them immediate satisfaction for everything they demand, or are constantly giving them attention/reward for no reason at all or for the inappropriate, impolite, impatient behaviours, well, they have no reason to learn otherwise. Our dogs don't have iphones, tablets or any number of other devices, but they have owners for their immediate desires; they can push owner buttons and get a reaction, they can get rewarded by the owner for lack of patience and need for satisfaction. But if you as the owner, can handle boredom and patience, deal with it, and teach it, the benefits are enormous, calm ensues and life gets easier.
So do your dog a favour. Teach them they are not the centre of the world, that sometimes they'll be bored, that they may have to show some self control and patience, that you will reward calm, polite behaviours and that there are rules to follow and consequences for not following. Your dog will be in a better state of mind, feel better, behave better and trust me, your stress level will be reduced. It's not always about sit, but rather, more importantly, its about patience, calm and the state of mind that gets rewarded.
If you think you need help or have similar issues to those mentioned in this article, please do not hesitate to contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, January 2, 2017
From all of us here at Smart Dogs Canine Training, we wish you happiness, success, joy and love for the coming year 2017! We hope it is your best one yet!
We will be back up and running as per usual, starting January 3rd. If you are interested in group or private dog training, please contact us at email@example.com and we'd be happy to help you. We will re-post available classes again shortly.