What do you think dog training is?
When most people think of training their dog they picture themselves standing in front of their pooch teaching a number of basic obedience commands. And although this can be a part of it, the biggest impact on your relationship with your dog will not come from your organized training sessions but from the simple ways you interact with him throughout your day together.
Yes, if you want to teach your dog a new command or trick you will have to log some time in semi-formal training sessions. This is true.
However, to get a better behaved, well-balanced, joy-to-be-around pooch, you’ll need to pay close attention to the everyday casual interactions you have with your dog as well (and I would argue above all else).
You are shaping behavior every single moment whether you’re aware of it or not. So you better be aware of what you’re shaping so you can make sure it’s what you want repeated.
Too many people hire me to help with unexplained behavior problems, and then get all red in the face when I show them how they have been the ones creating the issues with their behavior.
It’s time to take a moment and really look at the way you’re doing things with your furry friend. If you don’t know where to start, fret not, I’ve got your back.
Here are 2 simple ways you can make sure you’re teaching your dog to be a good boy, daily.
1. Always make sure you’re rewarding a calm dog.
This is a big one that I can’t stress enough.
You always want to focus on state of mind before behavior because dogs are just victims of their state of mind. And they make really dopey decisions in an excited or aroused state of mind.
So whenever you give a reward (like putting the food bowl down, opening the door for a walk, playing with a toy, give affection or attention, etc.) make sure your dog is calm, and never give rewards in any other state of mind. Remember, a calm dog is a good dog. And when you reward a calm state of mind, that’s what you’ll get more of.
2. Who’s idea is it to do things?
When your dog is getting all those great things he loves, who’s idea is it? If everything is on your dog’s terms, then you could be in for some trouble. All rewards should be on your terms, meaning that if your dog wants something he has to get it through you and not just go for it on his own.
You may have heard this called “no free lunch,” or “working for rewards.” The basic point is that if you’re dog wants something of value they just need to do something for it. For me with my dog all I ask is that she says please. If she wants something, she has to pause and look at me – that’s saying “please.”
Having these checkpoints in place will communicate to your dog that there are basic household rules and encourage him to look to you as to how to proceed. This will open up your communication with him and teach him to be a well-mannered dog when presented with things that he wants. This is pretty important because no one likes a pushy dog.
I invite you to really work on these two simple yet powerful things for one month and see how it impacts your dog’s behavior and improves your life together.