For those who frequent my blog, you probably know I am a balanced trainer who teaches sit, down come, place, follow and wait. Dogs need structure and need to be taught rules. You cannot let dogs be dogs; dogs cannot be the ones that make the rules. Most dogs are happy, hyper, jumping, barking digging, running animals, and we need to harness these instincts so they learn manners and are a joy to be around. Most dogs will play-bite, but we teach them not put their mouth on humans. Dogs need to learn that playing with dogs is different than playing with humans.
So, for you Mom’s and Dad’s out there, you need to be good parents and teach.
One item that dogs should learn to do is to say please. Now, you have to remember that we have human brains, and dog’s brains are different. Their intelligence is the equivalent of a 3-5 year old human. Just like 3-5 year old children, the adults have to make decisions for them and teach social rules.
Dogs are no different. One of the social rules we teach our children is to say please and thank you, and to be respectful. We should expect the same from our dogs. People love to make excuses for their dog’s behavior; he was abused, he is nervous, he doesn’t like children, he loves everybody, and so on. These excuses are used to allow behavior like biting, jumping, growling, and disobeying commands.
I don’t make excuses for my dogs. I have consequences and teach proper social behavior. I have two dogs, and both are different. One is super friendly, and the other is not a fan of men and can be defensive. Neither of them bite, jump, or growl and both are very obedient. They have also been taught to say please.
Here is the secret to teaching your dog to say please.
THERE IS NO SECRET. DOGS CAN’T TALK!
What I’m saying is, make your dog work for everything. Before petting I require a behavior, and I get to pick the behavior, whether it’s come, sit, down, place, or heel. They have to listen and obey commands – that is how a dog says “please.”
People sometimes tell me that they taught their dog to sit/stay, and wait until released, before they can eat their dinner. That is a really good start, but do that every time and it turns into a routine. And dogs love routines. It becomes a conditioned exercise and it requires no thinking on the dog’s part.
When I feed my dogs, I do a different exercise each day. We may sit, speak, shake, or heel one day, and the next might be sit/down/sit/down/sit/down (doggie pushups). It is never the same, and the dog needs to pay attention and work for his/her food. If my dog drops a ball and wants me to throw it, I may tell him sit/down/heel/fetch and then we’ll play.
If your dog loves treats, teach it a bunch of tricks. If a dog wants to eat he/she must work for the treats by performing tricks. Not just any trick will do, and you get to pick the trick. Not your dog. Some highly motivated dogs will go through their entire trick repertoire until they get the right one. Funny stuff.
So, teach your dog to say “please.” We sit to be pet, we wait at the door when it opens, we do some obedience before we play. Raise your dog to be a polite, socially accepted, fur baby because that is basically what they are. They are little furry 3-5 year olds. They need nurturing, love, and to be taught how to behave.
When I am out at a restaurant and the server tells Julie and I how well behaved our boys are, that makes me very proud. When I am told after a dog demonstration “your dogs listen better than my kids” that is also a very proud moment. I take pride in my family, whether they have fur or skin.
We are a family, and I love their behavior.