Is there a communication gap between you and your dog? Does your dog continue to run out into the road after people walking by when you have repeatedly told him/her to stay in the yard? Does your dog continue to jump on people, bark, leash pull and not come when called? If so, you most likely have a communication problem with your dog. Maybe you need a better way to communicate. Do you have a pack of misbehaving dogs and the neighbors often say, “Who let the dogs out?” as your dogs say, “woof, woof, woof, woof-woof”! Don’t be mad at your dogs for you not working with them. It is your fault your dogs are not listening and misbehaving because you have not put the work in. If you need help hire a dog trainer. If you hire a dog trainer it is still up to you to put in the work.
Well behaved dogs must have balance in their lives. Just like us humans we all need balance – in work and play. and in what we consume. All work and no play makes Randy a dull boy. Eating saturated fat and sugar is unhealthy. We need our balance of protein, fruits, vegetables and carbs. Dogs need balance as well. People get pets and give all play and love but no work. This is not balance and the dog will not be calm and a joy to be around. All dogs need work to be happy. They also need exercise to be happy. We need to work with our dogs so they can be a happy part of our family. So how do we communicate with them?
Dog’s don’t speak English: yes they can learn some phrases, but they can never understand your conversation. Dogs learn from our emotions, physical actions, cues, sensation, and operant conditioning. Basically with operant conditioning the dog does what feels good and avoids what is unpleasant. This is the basic concept for balance training. We communicate “yes” and “no” to the dog. The dog works before he/she can play. I use food for training and the trick is to have a variable ratio reward schedule. This means to don’t treat every time the dog does something. The reward varies. Sometimes we give one morsel and sometimes the dog gets a jackpot and sometimes the dog gets nothing. The variable ratio reward schedule creates the results of a reliably obedient dog. Slot machines pay on a variable ratio schedule. They take in way more than they pay out but thanks to human nature and how we learn people still go to the casino and pour millions of dollars into these machines.
In addition to rewards there are also consequences when the dog does not listen or has a behavior that needs to be extinguished. For example your dog is a leash puller. We need to make the act of leash pulling uncomfortable and teach the dog to follow. The dog follows you, you don’t follow the dog. To teach the dog to follow, make about turns if the dog gets ahead of you and is not paying attention. Keep changing direction until your dog begins to pay attention to you. Don’t get into the habit of walking in circles because this is what the dog will start doing to try to stop the corrections. Typically dogs will try different options to avoid discomfort when you are trying to teach a new concept (don’t leash pull). What tool you use for the correction is what works best for your dog. There are a variety of training collars available; slip collar, pinch collar, Martindale, Wade and more. What are not training collars are flat collars, harnesses and gentle leader.
When training your dog on a leash with a training collar you want to keep the leash loose. Before the dog runs out of leash change directing, snap and release. Loose leash, snap and release. You can also train with hot dogs for the dog to stay at your side. See my YouTube videos on both concepts.
The key to communicating is consistency, repetition, practice and praise. My preferred method of training is using the remote training collar. The reason is this tool is the most consistent on the market. I can use it on lead and off. I can get my dog’s attention when she is 50 yards away. It is not a magic pill but a great dog training tool. I rarely have my dogs on a leash because I don’t need leashes. My dogs prefer the invisible leash, the remote collar. I have a reliable heel, come, sit, down amongst real life distractions. With the remote collar I now have a way to communicate effectively with my dog.