Robin and I are getting ready to visit a new Home Dog Training client in Norcross this week for the first time. They had contacted us last week concerning their Visula named Candy. Candy is about 18 months old and the mother had taken her to a dog training group class about six months ago. Candy now needs some more focused training and has picked up some new bad habits. One of the most problematic issues with Candy is that she responds pretty well to the mother, but doesn’t listen at all when any other member of the family tries to command or direct her. The mother travels from time to time on business and she mentioned that when she comes home, Candy is even misbehaving with her. Up until now, the rest of the family has stayed away from any training activities. She was wondering if that was causing a problem.
Robin and I have trained over 5,000 dogs and it has become quite clear to us that training your dog is a family event. For example, when you were a child, what if your mother was the one who always would correct you and let you know what to do? When your father came home, he had nothing to do with you and could care less what you did or said. You would probably turn out as a “messed up” kid. We can extend this same scenario to your dog and family members taking divergent roles with the dog and the dog’s behavior.
Dogs love rules and respond best when things are consistent. If one family member responds to the dog in a specific way, the dog assumes and expects that the next family member will also interface with him in the same manner. If the family member acts differently, it creates an inconsistent environment for the dog. Inconsistency is seen as weakness and lack of leadership by your dog. In his eyes, why should he listen, you are all nuts! The more you are all inconsistent, the more that your dog ignores and disobeys your wishes. Frustration among the family members mounts and could even escalate to harmful, physical acts or even giving the dog away.
None of this is the dog’s fault and none of this has to happen. Before you get a dog, have a family meeting to discuss the responsibilities for each family member and the family in general. A few things we always suggest you include are:
- Make sure that everyone in the family wants a dog.
- Come up with some family rules that everyone agrees they will enforce. Some typical rules are:
- What rooms will the dog be allowed to enter?
- Is he allowed on the furniture?
- Do you mind if he jumps?
- Will you allow him to play nuts in the house or not?
- Everyone must agree that they will be involved with the dog’s training and socialization.
- Assign who will feed, potty, and walk him. Write it down!
- Agree on how you want your dog to act with people coming into the house.
- Make sure everyone understands that these new responsibilities come at a cost. Some of the family members’ “free time” will now become “Dog time”.
- Create an arbitration process to resolve disagreements between family members when they are treating the dog differently.
Your family is your family. One for all and all for one. Having a dog as part of your family does not change that.
Please call Robin or me at (770) 718-7704 or (770) 718-7716 if you need any dog training help. We are blessed to have been your local dog training experts for over fourteen years and are ready to help you.