Have you ever had that unfortunate moment where your dog does something that makes you feel like a betrayed failure and leaves you with a sinking feeling in your gut? I know I have…I think you know what I mean. That unexpected moment when your dog snaps at you seemingly out of nowhere. Maybe you trusted your dog a little too much too soon and came home to a house full of couch feathers and precious sentiments torn into pieces. Whatever the case may be it always SEEMS to come from nowhere and it usually catches us off guard. In reality it (more than likely) did not come from nowhere. There was something that we missed. There are so many things that could cause a dog to act out. So we have to find out weather or not it is a behavioral issue. Is it something we can correct by giving them an outlet or do they need behavior modification (via professional help)? If our dog is getting one 30 min walk during the week that could be why he is acting out. He doesn’t know what to do with his energy and he’s going crazy. He needs an outlet for it and if we don’t give him one he will find one himself and that is never good. Does he know how to be calm? If he is calm and has an outlet but has developed behavior problems seek help. In all likelihood we unknowingly contributed to developing issues. I know it’s hard at first but don’t take it personal. Be patient with him and do the best you can to help him be the best dog he can be.
Teaching your dog to respect thresholds will give you the freedom to live life without worrying about Fido’s naughty behavior. Giving your dog a visible or invisible boundary will empower you to lead in a most effective way. This is what I mean…Imagine you just got home from the store and you open the door in preparation to unload you car when your dog jets out the door and down the block. Now you have to put your task on hold to go chasing after your dog. Do you call that respect? How about a dog that goes counter surfing while you’re trying to cook in the kitchen. Now imagine this…You are unloading the groceries and your dog just sits at the doorway or waits outside the kitchen while you prepare dinner. Isn’t that a better image? How good would it feel to have a respectful dog that waits for your ok? It takes some work but the outcome is more than worth the time and effort that you put in. You don’t have to put up with a dog running out of the gate when you take out the trash if you simply teach him that this is a line you may not cross.
Yes, this is my dog on my mom’s couch on a blanket…because I know you were wondering.
Dogs are whole different species. We look at their cute faces and we melt. We just give in and let them have their way. What I want to explain we can help our dogs succeed and earn privilege. I do let my dog on the furniture sometimes. That is a privilege. She gets off when I tell her to and she does not challenge me or get bratty when I have her up on the couch. Entitlement is when a dog starts “owning” the thing that is supposed to be a reward. They start challenging or showing bratty behavior. More often than not entitlement is the case. The thing is that in many cases the owners either have a feeling of guilt or for one reason or another they cannot say “no” to those puppy dog eyes even though the teeth are snapping at the same time. Your dog is not entitled to “rewards”. If it is supposed to be a privilege then treat it is as such. Sometimes “no” is the best gift you can give your dog. This is deeper than a dog jumping on your bed…it could be anything that your dog feels entitled to. This effects your dog’s state of mind. If you have a dog who is entitled then there is some work to be done to adjust what’s going on in their head…and you need to be the one to lead the way with a new mindset. The submissive dog is the one who gets a reward not the bully…That being said privilege doesn’t have to be given to any dog. That’s why it’s privilege. 🙂
When we get lost we can just stop and ask for directions or look at a road map. when a dog is “lost” he/she cannot ask for “direction” so the outcome is confusion, fear, frustration and all the chaos that comes along with those pent up emotions. dogs develop all kinds of issues simply because we are asking them to live in our world but we are not telling them how so they try to figure it out themselves and end up a stressed out mess. Dogs can live in our world with no problem but we need to give them information. We need to teach them “it’s no big deal for a dog or human to pass on the street so relax” and “don’t bark at the mailman because he’s here everyday and he means no harm”. “If there is a loud boom on the fourth of July it just fire works…and No the sky is not falling”.” I’m not worried neither should you be”. We just need to make sure we are giving our dog information in every area of life…everything from manners at the dinner table to respecting boundaries to walking properly on leash. The more direction you give them and the less they get away with their own nonsense the better off your relationship with your dog and their mental stability.
It all starts with a little spark. A strike of a match and a tiny flame is born. So small but left to itself it can quickly spread far and wide and consume everything in it’s path. Do you remember Smokey the Bear’s famous saying “Only you can prevent forest fires!”? How exactly do you prevent forest fires? There are only two ways to preventing a fire. The first is don’t play with matches but the second is catching the spark before it turns into a fire because once you have a fire it grows faster than you can put it out.
It’s seems like it’s hard to walk your dog down the street these days without running into a reactive dog or having your dog react. Sometimes you see it coming and sometimes you don’t. There’s a dog coming toward you and the ears go up, your dog makes eye contact, the forehead wrinkles, the chest puffs out, and a little growl becomes a big dramatic freakout session full of lunging, leash pulling and aggressive barking in about 15 seconds. So many warning signs in such a short amount of time. Prevention is all in the timing, learning to read your dog and knowing the signs so you can recognize the first spark. The ears go up and the reactivity sparks! Catch it there. Correct at the first sign that your dog has any interest in the other dog whatsoever. The key to preventing reactivity is simply catching it early and not allowing it to escalate.
Most people would not know when I walk down the street that my dog personal dog is leash reactive yet she doesn’t react. Why? It’s because I catch her at first spark! Fires are not allowed on my walk. It’s a simple thing it just takes practice. Figure out what the signs are for your dog and work on your timing (remember you don’t have long before the escalation). Patience, practice and perseverance. 😉
I recently spent a bit of time at my local animal shelter. From time to time I like to go walk around and check out what dogs are there and see who’s been adopted out and bring in donations. It’s no surprise that all the puppies go quickly but there are also boomerang puppies. The puppies that get adopted and returned because the owner didn’t expect that cute little fur baby to be so much work. The challenges to puppy raising are undeniable but there is also a great benefit. Raising a puppy requires a lot of patience and consistency but the advantage is that you can shape your dog from the beginning of it’s life before it develops any real behavioral issues. The pay off is huge because you can start out teaching good habits and begin correcting unwanted behaviors immediately. I am not advocating adopting puppies over adult dogs. Both need homes and both can be excellent companions. There are also benefits to adopting adult dogs as you can skip the potty training (in most cases) and puppy nipping. Some adult dogs don’t have any baggage and for those who do I believe 95% of that stuff is fixable through behavior modification. As for the puppy raisers who are frustrated and confused don’t loose heart. There is help out there. The puppy stage does not last forever. If you are willing to put in the work you can shape a great dog. 🙂
I came home tonight from visiting a friend in Los Angeles. I sat in traffic for almost two hours on the way there but on the way back there was no traffic whatsoever and I was home free. So I took advantage of the open road…I blasted my stereo and just drove. As I was cruising along I looked down at my speedometer and I noticed that I was going way faster than I felt I was going…but so was everyone else. I mean, I was just going with the flow of traffic right? Technically I was breaking the law…but it felt so good! The road was open and not a cop in site! Now, I don’t know that I would have been so quick to break the law with a law enforcement officer in my rear view mirror. Your dog crosses boundaries for the same reasons…its feels good and there’s no consequence or boundary enforcer. Your dog would begin to think twice about crossing boundaries if they were set and consistently reinforced with consequences that matter. You must be consistent and patient so the boundaries you set in place become more and more clear to your dog. Give them a chance to catch on by guiding them in the same direction each time. For example, don’t set a boundary restricting your dog from getting on the bed and then invite him up. That just gets confusing and now the boundary lines are blurred. We tend to get frustrated with the dog when we are the ones that throw them off. Dogs are simple so keep it clear for their sake and for yours. 🙂
I see so many dogs taking people for a walk. I walk dogs. It’s my walk and they get to come along on my terms. The walk is structured with rules and boundaries. No sniffing, barking, marking or pulling. I designated “free time” for potty breaks and some sniffing action. Don’t dread being dragged down the street; enjoy a pleasant stroll with your dog in the park. Take back the power and start walking your dog. 😉
I have been ask to be a vendor at the up coming Bark for Life in San Dimas on April 11th! Come check it out! Bring your dog, your friends and your family for some fun in the sun and support a good cause! 😉 It’s a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society so let’s support those who are fighting the battle and honor those who have. I am so honored to be a part of this event! Come join us! I can’t wait to see you there! It’s gonna be a blast! 🙂
Hey guys! I want to talk to you about something that I’ve come across lately. I see owners expecting too much of their dogs. Don’t get me wrong, you should ask more of your dog, but how much you can ask of your dog depends upon how much time and work you have put into them. Would you ask a first grader to list all the times tables? No of course not…they haven’t gotten that far. It’s unfair to expect them to know something they haven’t learned. Likewise you cannot ask a dog to sit, down, heel or anything if they have not #1) learned it and #2) learned it WELL! You crawl before you walk so if your dog is shaky on a command continue to work with them until they are solid. Then you can expect bigger and better things from your dog. So if you have worked with your dog for one day on the sit command and they did ok don’t assume they are solid on it. Give them the benefit of the doubt. They may not KNOW it and all that means is they need more work. If you haven’t put much work into your dog don’t expect much out of them either. What you put in is what you get out. Until next time, keep digging and find that Pure Canine! 😉