Why a trained dog? Is it because they always greet us with a smile and a wag of the tale when we come home? Is it the belly rubs that we give them each and every night or the soft looks they give us when they are ready for bed? “So on the 9th Day God Made a Dog” cannot say it any better.
Dogs are wonderful pets as long as they are taught and treated like a dog. If we do not treat dogs like dogs they become animals. Animals like raccoons are fun to watch in their natural habitat but don’t make good pets. The reason they do not make good pets is because they are wild. The only rules raccoons have is nature. When we treat our dogs like our babies they become animals. Wild animals that make their own rules as they go along. Animals that bark, jump, steal food from the counter, pull on the leash and bite. Have you ever watched dogs play with one another? They bite; it’s the only way they know how to play. If we don’t teach our dogs rules they will bite us too.
Dogs are wonderful pets, but we cannot let them act like animals. I see it again and again with the families I work with. They call them their baby, calm, pet and comfort them when they are nervous, scared and aggressive. I’ve seen it again and again when someone comes in for an evaluation due to their dog being aggressive when they see another dog. They pet, touch, and tell the dog, “It’s okay Fido”. It’s not okay because they are praising Fido for growling! They are using human psychology on the dog, and that does not work.
We need a balanced approach when training our dog. All positive doesn’t work. I mark and treat the young dogs to teach them a wide variety of behaviors, but once we are outdoors and there are millions of distractions, the treats are not so interesting to my dog anymore. From 4 -12 months of age they will not listen, come, stop barking or sit for a treat if they see a biker, rabbit, or children playing across the street. I use food and toys to teach behavior but I also am an expert using the remote collar to mark and interrupt behavior.
Watch any of my videos. How do you think we teach dogs to stop and come when they are chasing prey? It certainly isn’t with a treat. The dog says, “To heck with that treat I’m in pursuit of this kid on a bike and if I’m fast enough I’m going to really kick into prey drive and give him a nip on his leg”.
The most important thing you can teach your dog is a recall, come when he/she is called. If you don’t have a dog that recalls then you don’t have control of your dog.