Last week I was in Dawsonville at a new Home Dog Training client helping him with his English Cream Golden Retriever named Sophie. Sophie was a little puppy about five months old and they were experiencing the regular issues of not listening, chewing, jumping, obedience, etc. I always start my first lessons with a discussion of why we were about to do the things to make our dog a wonderful and obedient part of the family. They understood and completely agreed with the principles we covered and the methods we were about to use. As soon as we commenced our actual exercises, they were completely amazed at the change in Sophie. She willingly obeyed their commands where, hours earlier, she was completely crazy. They got it and their dog understood.
This lesson was a clear example of a learning principle that, when properly engaged, breeds success in the dog training process. It all comes down to the owner’s ability to display an attitude that shows they are resolutely confident in their decision and direction they are enforcing. This is a difficult thing to teach, because it is something that is built up inside of you. If, deep down inside, you are afraid that something won’t work, you will naturally communicate that to everyone around you. It won’t matter what you say, if you don’t “feel it”, people will question. That is the same response that your dog will provide if you don’t show a resolutely confident attitude and demeanor.
Remember, this is nothing about “Come”, “Sit”, Stay”, “Don’t Jump”, etc. This is way before that. This is the foundation that you must establish in order to carry out your commands and rules. So, how do you create this “I really mean it” attitude?
First, you must understand that you have the absolute ability to accomplish the action you are about to require of your dog. This means that you have not overstepped your physical ability to get the action accomplished. If you are going to command your dog to come to you, you must have already examined all the possible outcomes after your command is given and you have solutions for any deviation. (The spoiler alert on this one is to start your work on the “Come Command” by using a leash. If needed, you can direct him towards you and a constantly successful conclusion of your command.)
You must provide a physical presence that shows you are calm and resolute. The quick answer to this is not to go crazy when giving your rules or interacting with your dog. Going crazy is not the sign of a strong leader and only adrenalizes your dog.
You must be consistent in your communications and commands with your dog. The more you are consistent and repetitive with your dog, the more he will learn and respect your commands. This will keep the adrenaline level down and increase the interactive focus between you and your dog. Clear understanding builds the needed bond and relationship between you and your dog.
You never give in when things aren’t working. This instantly shows you aren’t the leader and will lose the critical focus you need from your dog. “Not giving in” does not mean hitting and yelling. It means that your dog probably doesn’t understand what you are requesting. For example, if you have requested him to get off the sofa and he isn’t moving, you don’t hit him and push him off. You might get a leash, click it on his collar, repeat your request to get him off, and guide him to the carpet. All you are doing is to find the event horizon where your teaching and his learning are in sync.
It is truly amazing what proper attitude can achieve. Attitude in a vacuum is meaningless, but when displayed in a group, can be a powerful tool to direct and train.
Please call Robin or me at (770) 718-7704 if you are in need of any dog training help. Find all our phone numbers, text addresses and email contacts at Dog Training Help Center Dawsonville Georgia.