Living with Your Dog – Easier Than You Think
Has living with your dog become intolerable? Are you frustrated with your dog’s unruly behavior?
You may not be in the boat alone. Let’s hear from a few folks with new dogs in their home. See if these comments hit a familiar note.
One fairly new dog owner said, “Once he got used to life with me and got his confidence up, he started acting like a maniac in the house and on the leash when we walked and would see other dogs.”
Another said, “My new dog is awfully cute but a little too excited all the time, does not follow commands and seems to have a mind of his own when I want him to pay attention to me. Often I just feel like yelling at him when I tell him to do the same thing over and over again. It doesn’t work.
Everything seems so complicated and overwhelming.”
There is message from your bratty dog here: he needs some structure and leadership.
Let’s take a look at how life with your dog can be easier than you think – and happen sooner than you think.
First things first
In both situations just mentioned, the dogs were off leash in the house allowing them to “call the shots” and do exactly what they wanted: like take your stuff to get your attention, bark when you are on the phone or jump on the kids. You’ve probably got your own long list of bad dog behavior problems with your dog.
My first big tip: Put your dog on leash
I have found out how amazingly more compliant and responsible dogs become on leash in comparison to being disconnected from you, the owner. Using the leash in your home (when your dog is supervised by you!) begins to send a positive message to your dog that you are in charge and you can reinforce what you’ve asked of your dog.
Having a leash on your dog in the house at key, important times in the evening and on weekends – arrival of house guests, etc. is critical to a well-behaved dog.
Stay with me on this – you’ll be amazed!
By using positive reinforcement methods on leash, you gain the willing cooperation of your dog. Preferred behaviors eventually become strong, automatic responses.
Have a plan
Having a plan is important. It’s also important to take one behavior problem at a time and conquer it before moving on to the next one. Here is how I would lay it out.
One behavior problem at a time
I would take one behavior at a time. I would outline my goals. I would list the issues, what causes them and then, most importantly, decide what I would prefer my dog to do instead. Here’s an example:
Inappropriate behavior: Jumping on a house guest
What’s the cause: House guest or friend coming over
What behavior do I want: Sit to greet or just four on the floor or go to your place
List each behavior like this so that you have a clear picture of your goals. The key is to take them one dog problem at a time and work on them. Dogs need to learn in the setting in which the behavior happens – and around relevant distractions.
With your dog on leash, do repetitive dog training exercises with as many different visitors as possible until you achieve the results you want. This is where most owners “fall off the wagon”. They will do this once, maybe twice, then quit.
If you quit, then the ongoing bad behavior is not the dog’s fault.
Be consistent in your training
Training your dog means being consistent in what you are teaching him to do. It takes about 6 weeks to get a behavior in long term memory as a permanent behavior.
Doing the grunt work so to speak, is part of the price you pay for a well-mannered pooch.
The good news is it won’t seem like work if you are organized, handle one thing at a time and work it into your daily routine. Dogs thrive on routines.
If you are faced with a more complex dog behavior problem, it’s always best to consult a qualified dog behaviorist or dog trainer with solid behavior experience, rather than chance making matters worse.
You will spend less time and energy teaching your dog to do what you want when you want it than using the same energy correcting your dog for his infractions. You both will be much more relaxed with rules and expectations.
In summary, leash your dog, train every day and provide your dog with consistent positive feedback for a job well-done when he gives you the behaviors you prefer.
For a step by step “how to” go check out my Ground Rules for Great Dogs!
Thanks for letting me share my dog training knowledge with you. Don’t be a stranger. Feel free to comment below. I’d love to hear what you think.
Remember: “Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”
Jim Burwell, Houston dog trainer for 25+ years, serving over 9000 clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad. Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.