I often find people listing off the issues that they are having with their dogs, but not understanding why they are happening, even though the base of the issues is fairly obvious. Of course, we as trainers are here to help them understand and break down any issues, but sorting these truly does, many times, come down to common sense.
Though some trainers will say 9 times out of 10, the owner is to blame for much of their dogs behaviour, this isn’t always the case. Some dogs come with baggage from their previous life, and genetics plays a large role in who the dog is, their quirks and their temperament. However, pushy, bratty, demanding, attention seeking behaviour can all fairly easily be remedied by just not allowing it, or just not allowing it to work for the dog.
For many situations, this simple, yet effective advice, if followed, can drastically improve behaviour; if your dog is doing something you don’t like … very simply put, don’t let him.
Frustrating statement? I suppose. Easier said then done? Sometimes.
We as trainers can step back and take an unemotional stance in order to help our clients come up with the solutions to their problems. However, this is harder to do for clients, as their is a large emotional component tying them to their dogs. Trainers (should) have no emotional bond to their clients dogs, which makes it easier to gain perspective on a situation. Emotions often get in the way of common sense, and in the dog-human relationship, the emotions run wild and sometimes making it difficult for common sense to prevail.
It is ok not to allow behaviours that you don’t like. It is ok to ignore demands from your dog (and I’m not talking bathroom demands here). It is ok to say no. If you are clear, fair and consistent, no is very valuable in communicating with your dog. It is ok not to let them. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Yes is also an important aspect, and teaching the dog what you do want is the other side of the equation, but not what we are speaking of here.
If you find you are having issues with your dog, try to take a step back and consider the situation from a different view-point, and don’t let emotions cloud your view. Think about your actions, and then think about your dogs reactions. Think about what you might be letting them get away with, or what types of behaviour you are giving attention to, and adjust accordingly.
If you feel your situation is too difficult, there is no shame in calling in a professional who can help walk you through the problems, give you advice, training tips and results, after all, that’s what we are here for and sometimes an outside view can help re-focus your own view.