Bob McPhail 12:30 p.m., April 26
- Community Blog
- It's A Dogs Life
Give Your Dog a Break
There are a few things dog trainers hear more than others: “He knows better” “She’s being stubborn” “How do I get my dog to stop (digging, barking, etc.)? “What is the best way to punish my dog?” Very rarely is it, “What is the best way to reward my dog?” Ask yourself which way you would have asked it.
Sometimes I think, “Gee, are you really sure you wanted a dog?"
It is not the dogs’ fault that you have not trained him properly. It is of no use to get mad at your dog because your dog does not understand English, or whatever language you speak to her in. You will get much more out of your training, and the relationship you have with your dog, if you don’t make training adversarial.
One of the things we need to come to grips with for our training to become better is to get over the notion that our dog respects the fact that we are human. They have no natural respect for humans and it has to be earned and it will not be given just because we walk on two legs. In fact, your dog probably sees that as a reason not to automatically respect us.
Dealing with your dog as an adversary, instead of being a training partner, will set both of you up to fail. You don’t like failure and neither does your dog. When you call your dog to come, and she does not, we take it personally and blame the dog for our failure. We wonder how the dog would dare not obey the command of the king, or queen, of the household kingdom. How dare they?! I am going to guess that you got your dog because you wanted a friend who would give you unconditional love and not because you wanted someone around who would obey your every command no matter whether they understand what you want or not.
It doesn't have to be this way. Your dog does love you and looks forward to your coming home so that you might have wonderful moments together everyday. Work with her so that the line of communication becomes a two-way street. Your dog will listen to you, and you need to listen to her. If you take your time to teach your dog what you want when you say something, and are consistent about what you want, your dog will meet you more than halfway. Your dog only fails to comply with your requests because they don’t understand what you want, not because they want to blow you off, or “they know better.” Dogs are not born knowing what we want them to do. They don’t know how we want them to behave in our home and they don’t understand any language on earth except woof. What dogs can do is read us very well. They do it better than any other animal on the planet including humans.
Your dog needs to be trained to understand what behavior you are looking for and not just be scolded for doing the behavior you do not want. Just think about how difficult it would have been for you to learn that 4x4=16 if you weren’t taught math and just scolded every time you got the answer wrong. You might have gotten there eventually but it would have taken a long, long time and been very frustrating and chances are you would have been resentful about it.
There are two things that you have going in your favor when it comes to dog training. 1) Your dog wants to please you. 2) You are smarter than your dog. If you can’t figure out how to train and manage your dogs behavior how in the heck do you expect him to do it?
Give your dog a break. A little patient training from you will go a long way to keeping the two of you happy together for a long time. Just remember that you did not learn to drive before you learned to start the car. Your dog training should use that approach as well.
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- Rescue People Are Very Angry — Feb. 12, 2004