January 6, 2018

Good Communication, Better Dog

Everyone enjoys their dog the most when they are behaving well, but how often do pet owners reward their pets for simply being good? Training your dog is something that brings to mind rigorous effort of both dog and owner, classes, and usually a problem behavior that has gotten too far out of hand. You don’t have to go to a training class to teach your dog, your dog is learning from you constantly and often without your knowledge.

The important question is what are you teaching your dog? For example, your pet has just disrupted your quiet evening at home watching a movie by running through the living room, barking, and destroying your shoes; you would most likely scold the dog for his bad behavior.

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What was your pet doing ten minutes before? If laying quietly, chewing on his or her own toys, or simply looking at you adoringly chances are that you did not give your dog attention or praise for doing so. You have told your dog that behaving as you would want is not actually what you want and that being destructive and behaving badly is really good.

Knowing when to give your dog attention is the most easy way of telling your dog what you want, what is and what is not acceptable, and is so simple that you can train your dog in the foundations of good behavior without ever knowing that you are doing so. Ignoring your dog’s bad behaviors will not completely stop the behavior, but it will cause a noticeable difference as the dog learns.

All dogs learn most easily through ways that are natural and normal to a social animal. Like human infants they learn a great deal from what does and does not get them attention.

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Dogs are also highly attuned to detecting even the most minute signals of leadership or the lack there of. Just as you are often unknowingly giving the dog an idea of what is good and bad, you are also telling your pet that you are either a trustworthy leader or not. Many dogs have behavioral problems that increase beyond those that are simply annoying and can create dangerous situations for humans and other pets all because they are stressed or confused about their status in the group.

Many pet owners have been turned off of traditional dog training methods because they are inappropriately harsh and too often geared toward forcing the dog into submission. It is unnatural for a dog to serve no other purpose in its family than being the mindlessly obedient bottom rung of the social ladder.

In a natural setting pack animals like dogs do operate on a hierarchical level, however all members of the pack have an important job and remain individuals in ways humans easily fail to recognize. It is therefore ill advised to reinforce your leadership to your dog with brutality and to try to make the dog a robot

.Just as you can very naturally tap into your dog’s learning abilities through rewarding your dog for good behaviors and ignoring your dog for bad behaviors, there are simple, natural ways to tell your dog that you are the boss-this is good because it tells your dog that it is good and necessary to work with you and takes the pressure of leadership from your pet’s shoulders, making both of you happier. To do this you may need to analyze how dogs see the world in crucially different ways than we do.

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Territory is something humans have a different concept of, so to your dog a doorway holds much significance; it is a boundary line between one realm of existence and another. The excitement your dog holds for going outside the door, and back inside the door, is often an less happy event for the owner who is bounded over and drug out the door by their leashed companion.

Because you have set no rules for the crossing of this territorial boundary your pet does not view you as the leader outside. A leader will cross into and out of territory first and will, as the title implies, lead the way. By allowing your pet to run all over you, in ways you may not recognize as dominance, you have effectively told your dog that you are not the leader outside and he has to be by default.

Dogs are not meant to be leaders; due to domestication dogs have become perpetual adolescents and would never be allowed to be the leader naturally for a good reason. They will try though and this almost always results in “leash aggression” where the pet becomes aggressive only when out on the leash with its human. It sees other animals and people as threats, and as a good leader it must defend its person.

Sometimes this is combined with leash pulling, which every dog owner has experienced at some point as their pet excitedly drags them along at the end of the leash. They feel it is their job to go first and check everything out, and it isn’t being rude to you because you are the lesser pack member and won’t mind since it isn’t your business anyway.

Enforcing boundaries and reminding your pet that you are in charge is simple at its most basic level. Before you go out the door with your pet have them sit and wait until told to come join you. With dogs who have learned that you are not the leader this may take longer to learn, but done every time and with plenty of patience and praise is sure to teach your dog what you want. Your dog will be relieved in the end and will enjoy going on walks with you, or even just to the backyard, because you are the leader and he can relax.

Good leash manners are often over looked, or they are accepted but the reason for the behavior is not corrected. There is a huge market for leashes, harnesses, and collars that alleviate or stop pulling. However these products used without reinforcement of good behavior and training only work while they are on your dog since the dog was not taught that it should stop the unwanted behavior.

Use very small and highly scented training treats carried in a pocket or a bag made for this purpose to reward your dog for staying at your side and not pulling. When the dog pulls simply and sharply turn around, don’t yell or otherwise give your dog the hint that you are changing directions, because the leader chooses when and where the group goes and the leader is you.

In addition to these simple steps to help with the root of common pet ownership problems there is a final action that most owners do not consider. Dog owners tend to either let their dogs on the furniture or not at all, either way people tend to have intense opinions about their way of doing so. What no one seems to ask is how this comes across to the dog.

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Regardless of breed tendencies and experiences all dogs understand pack behaviors to some degree, the obvious variation comes from the fact that all dogs are individuals. More dominant dogs may view being freely allowed on the furniture as confirmation of their higher status, while other dogs do not seem to infer anything at all from this.

If your pet is the dominant type you should refuse furniture privileges, even if the dog is small, as this will tell your dog that there are limits you are enforcing and that time spent close to you is something earned instead of demanded or expected. Whether your pet is dominant or not, if you allow them on the furniture with you it should be by invitation only. If your pet is invited to politely come sit with you they will view it as a reward, and it will be more enjoyable for you both to sit together.

Though dogs and humans have shared their lives together for a very long it is unfair to assume that your dog understands everything you wish him to. Training your dog to behave well at home and in the outside world is never a task to take on lightly, but recognizing the way your pet views both you and the rest of his world makes the task easier. Good communication with your pet is as essential as it is with other human beings for success.

Read more: ​Training Your Dog To Come To You At The Park

Lucy Sheppard

Hi, I’m Lucy Sheppard. I love pets, especially dogs. My love for these true friends of humans turned into a passion. This passion led me to start this pets website so that people like me can benefit from my study and research.

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