Does the following situation sound familiar? You are sitting outside with your dog and a person and their dog walk by. Your dog, we’ll call him Frank, well Frank starts barking like mad and about to pull your arm off lunging at them. You get Frank near you and say “its okay, shhhh, its okay” all while you are petting them to try to get them to calm down. This frustrates you to no end, but yet every time you are out there the same thing keeps happening! What gives?
We must have a clear understanding of what we are communicating to our dogs. Without it, we may be creating the exact opposite of what we want. In the situation above, by you soothing Frank and petting him while in this state of mind, you are telling him “okay Frank that a boy…keep it up every time anyone or thing walks by us”.
You Get what you Pet. It sounds simple and and should be simple, but humans have so many emotions put into our relationships and communication with our dogs. Now I’m not saying we shouldn’t have feelings and emotions for our dogs, they are family, but they are animals. Since animals cannot comprehend our complex language, we must be very clear with what we are communicating to them. NO is okay to say to our dogs and it must be said to them! NO must have value to them. It must be something that is presented to them in a fashion that matters to them. Can you imagine never telling your children no? How would they ever learn what behaviors are wanted or unwanted? The same applies with dogs. In order for a behavior to not be present, they must learn what the bad behaviors are. This is done by using NO and not petting or giving affection when those behaviors are present. I see it so many times, especially with puppies or small dogs, them nipping at someone and the owners holding them and petting them to soothe them. All this is doing is conditioning your dogs to nip, or when get older possibly bite, others when in your arms! They become resource guarding you. When bad behaviors are present we must be CLEAR that this is not acceptable; no petting no affection, and say NO. You can follow these things up with an obedience command; SIT and then praise GOOD!
We all want our dogs to be the best they can be, but we must be their teachers/leaders and show them how to get their. They are pack animals so if there is a not a clear teacher/leader, they will put themselves in that role. For training help please reach out to Dog On It! #clearcommunication #relationshipbuilding #yougetwhatyoupet