How many of you have a dog that has a behavior issue you’d like to change? Maybe you’ve tried and not been successful in curbing the counter surfing or jumping up. I’ve heard people say many times that their dog is just stubborn or theri dog isn’t very smart. These are usually excuses for why the dog still exhibits behaviors we don’t like or want. What if I told you it ISN’T your dog’s fault? What if i told you it was, in fact, YOUR fault your dog has these behavioral issues and hasn’t learned appropriate ones? Most people would probably be offended if they heard me say “It’s your fault your dog jumps on your kids or the counters, eats out of the trash or barks at the mailman” and would be quick to defend themselves with statements like “I’ve tried everything” or “we’ve spend hundreds of hours training” or “we’ve spent so much money on trainers”. It’s fair to say most owners feel, in these instances like they HAVE tried everything, or they HAVE spent hundreds of hours or too much money on trainers, The simple fact is there is a reason your dog isn’t getting the memo, and that reason is almost always the teacher (you). It’s not totally your fault either, it’s just that you’re missing something. The sad part is, people so often blame the dog and give up, returning the dog to the breeder, dropping the dog at a shelter, or just continuing to live with a dog they can’t seem to train. Here are the most common reasons your dog is not picking up what you’re putting down in the training department
For me, this is one of the biggest issues I see people run into when training their dogs. Inconsistency is the enemy guys. Your dog thrives on routine and on knowing what is expected of him. If it’s ok for him to jump all over you saying Hello when you come home from work, he isn’t going to understand that it isn’t ok to greet strangers or children this way. It’s the same for behaviors like jumping on the furniture. Either it IS or IS NOT ok. Make your choice and stick with it so your dog knows the rules and can better abide by them. Then be consistent in your training of those rules and your expectations of your dog. Start this the minute you bring that puppy home. Training a wanted behavior is ALWAYS easier than retraining an unwanted behavior
2. Keeping your dog engaged
The best way to be sure your dog is learning is to make sure you are keeping them engaged. Training should be fun and sessions kept fairly short. You should ALWAYS end a training session before your dog is tired or disinterested in the lessons. If your dog seems to be having trouble learning a new behavior, go back for a few minutes to one you know he has down. This gives him an opportunity to work on something he knows, get some positive feedback, build confidence and avoid getting frustrated. Once you’ve gone over some of his better known cues/tricks, then move back to the new behavior for a short period. Remember, each dog is going to learn at a different pace as well. It would not be fair of me to expect my 10 yr old terrier to learn at the same pace as my 2 yr old border collie. Each of those breeds/ age ranges is going to learn differently and at different rates. It’s ok if your dog doesn’t get it the first session. Be patient, make it fun, and most of all BE CONSISTENT. Your dog will get there!
3. Make sure your dog is getting enough physical and mental exercise.
So many times, behavior issues can be traced back to a lack of physical and mental exercise. We tend to forget that the most popular dog breeds are also often breeds who were meant to work. We get a lab, german shepherd, labradoodle, beagle… and we forget that these dogs were bred with a purpose and were bred to work long hours as hunting dogs, herding dogs, therapy and service dogs. We then insert them into our every day lives, with no work for them to do to keep their brains engaged and often with not enough exercise to burn off all the pent up energy they’ve got. It is SO important to do your research BEFORE you buy a dog. You should NOT get a german shepherd, border collie, aussie or other working or sporting breed if you are not prepared to put in the time training and exercising your dog. Without a job, they will find themselves things to do to keep occupied and this is when we get nuisance behaviors iike excessive barking, chewing, jumping etc. If you are someone who comes home from work and wants to plop on the couch the rest of the night, a doberman pup is NOT the pup for you. It’s important to be honest with yourself about your lifestyle before you choose a breed. Don’t do yourself or your dog the disservice of choosing based solely on looks.
4. When all else fails, call a professional!
If you are having trouble training your dog and you feel like you’ve tried it all, it is time to call a professional trainer. Look up the reviews for trainers in your area, talk to your breeder about trainers they recommend, or the rescue/shelter your adopted from. The odds are good they have connections with some trainers and will be happy to help you find one. They will NOT be happy if you call/email/tect them sayig you’ve tried everything, your dog isn’t learning and you just can’t be bothered to keep trying. I see and hear this WAY too often and it always makes me see red. Remember, when you took this dog home, you made a commitment to the dog, the breeder or shelter and yourself to take care of this dog for the duration of his life, through challenges and puppy kisses, the good and the bad. So, when you hit a bump in the training road and you just throw your hands up and give up…your breaking your word, not only to the dog and to me, but to yourself. I promise, if you get with the right trainer, they can show you exactly what your’e doing wrong and how to fix it so you and your dog can have a successful relationship and a deeper bond. You’ll be so glad you didn’t give up.