Dogs are very perceptive animals. They are aware and watch everything we do. They pick up cues to when we are going to leave the house, feed them, and release them from a down. Dogs are constantly watching and evaluating. They then make their decision based on how to act from our behavior and how we interact with them. Giving lots of love and failing to discipline is a recipe for a very naughty dog. Dogs are cheaters and will take advantage whenever they can. We have an 8 month old schnauzer in for a board and train who is super friendly but very hyper. In the household, there are 21 grandchildren that visit and of course the dog feeds off of the children’s energy. Grandma is the owner and doesn’t know what to do with the very hyper animal that jumps, leash pulls, bites, doesn’t come, and runs around the house like it’s a gymnasium. I imagine the dog gets lots of love and little to no discipline.
Dogs need discipline. The definition of discipline is training to act in accordance with the rules. Dogs that set the rules are the ones that jump and bark at guests. They are the ones that crash through your door as soon as you open it. They are the ones that chase people passing by your home. Your dog should not be setting the rules – you should be. What perception does your dog have of you? If your dog is out of control, your dog considers you a pushover and certainly not the leader of the pack. If all you do is yell, chase, and plead you are weak and not worthy of running the household. Perception is everything.
The Adams Approach. Sometimes dogs come in and act like they don’t even know their name. The dog’s name should elicit the dog to snap its head and look at you, not to ignore you. To teach the dog its name, say it and pair it with a treat. Name/treat. I hear people teaching their dogs watch me commands. If you taught your dog its name you should not need a watch me command – you should just be able to say the dog’s name and he/she should look at you. The next thing we teach is the dog to follow. We don’t follow them, they follow us. We have a leash on the dog and if the dog is going one way we give the dog a cue and go the other way. We do this over and over again until the dog starts picking up the cue and then they start paying attention and keep us in their peripheral vision. They keep an eye on us so when we turn, they turn with us.
We keep a leash on the dog all the time so the dog will soon learn the only option is doing what they are told. Ignoring us doesn’t work because we use the line to get them to move towards us, sit, down, and place. Food is a very good motivator so once we start making some progress the dog starts getting paid. By the second week we usually have the dog working off lead. Our clients are pretty impressed with our progress that we make in such a short time. It’s not easy but knowing the tricks of the trade, timing, persistence, and consistency is the key to dog training. I always tell my clients to never give your dog a command you are not willing to follow through on. For example, “Fido did not come because he was busy sniffing the other dog.” If my dog is sniffing and ignoring me there are going to be consequences. I literally will go to my dog, grab his collar and lead him to the exact position I was standing when I called him. Then we will follow up with some additional obedience. At that point I will either release my dog to play again or it will be crate time. Sometimes dogs need a time out.
When I am training dogs I speak softly. Dogs have excellent hearing so you do not need to yell. I stay calm and help the dog work through difficulties. Once we start getting a few repetitions in I can always see the light bulb go on in the dogs mind and they are starting to get it. Boom. Jackpot = Lots of treats!
Many times after I have worked with the dog a couple of weeks I have a lesson with the owner and the dog goes home. Soon after that I see them in group class. Sometimes they owner is struggling and sometimes the owner and dog are working as a great team. The difference is perception. Are you a pushover or are you a leader. Are you the quarterback or water boy? Are you the CEO or courier? Sometimes we need to make personal changes in our lives to better ourselves. Take the lead and show your dog you know what you’re doing. You are both going to have a great ride and your dog will love you for it.