Yesterday I was at an initial Home Dog Training session in Roswell with a new client and his Chow named Angel. Even though Chows can be a little head strong and quick to react, Angel was a great student. The main issues that my client had with Angel were her jumping, stealing food, and running out the front door. We took care of those rather quickly and he was ready to practice our lessons until our next visit in about a week or two. As I was finishing up, he mentioned that his sister was very interested in the training because she was going to get her first dog. She wanted to be there during our session to listen and take part with the training, but had to work at the last minute. We had spent over three hours covering all sorts of topics and practicing many exercises and he knew he wouldn’t be able to tell and show her all of that. He wondered if I had a shortened list of “here are the really important things” that he could pass on to his sister.
I normally don’t like to provide training tips on a “third party” basis because I am not sure what the real need may be. After spending several hours with my new client, I believed that he could help his sister with a little information from me.
When it comes down to dealing with dogs, the most important thing that we must remember is that we are establishing a relationship. This is critical because dogs are social animals. They naturally seek out rapport between other animals and humans to understand how they fit into the immediate social structure. Our dog does not look at us because we were the ones who bought him from a breeder or picked him up from a Dog Rescue Group. He does not understand our human concept of physical ownership.
Our dog looks at us to determine who is the one who is going to keep him safe in the immediate group. Based on our actions, he may come to the conclusion that we are the care givers and providers of safety. He could also conclude that we are crazy and he needs to be the leader.
In a dog’s world, all eyes are on the leader. Because of this, the most important information that I can give my client to pass onto his sister is how to have her new dog conclude that she is the leader.
- BE CALM AND STILL. Body language is the most important aspect of your dog’s communication. Dogs use body language as their initial communication avenue and it is all they ever need to use 80% of the time. The most important part of this visual tool is passive resolution. Being calm and still shows that you are not adrenalized and you are focused on the situation. This shows leadership and direction. That is what your dog is expecting from a leader and will help them to give you focus. Once you have your dog’s focus, it is far easier to direct them to your goal. Although I know it is really hard to do, the bottom line is that you “don’t want to go nuts, yell at, or chase your dog” if you want him to obey and be a good dog.
- DON’T GIVE HIM ALL THE ATTENTION. The leader is the one who gets the attention. If you give your dog all the attention, he will naturally believe he is the leader. Being the leader, he doesn’t have to listen to you; HE is the leader. A clear example of this and a mistake we all make is when we come home. We open the door there is our dog waiting for us. He jumps on us and we give him hugs and kisses. We don’t even have time to put down our keys or coat because he is tugging on our hand to take him outside to play with him. He instantly took control of us when we opened the door and successfully had our attention from that moment on. We need to make sure that we are the ones that have the attention.
Let’s look at this scenario again and understand what we should have done. When we came home and our dog wants us to give him attention, we initially ignore him. We need to complete any physical action not involving him to show him we are doing what we want. An example of this is putting down your keys and wallet on the kitchen table. Now, you can turn to him and call him over. If you want, take him out and play. You have kept the focus on yourself and have shown the proper leadership to your dog.
- MAKE SURE IT IS YOUR IDEA. The most important thing that you can do is to clearly show your leadership. This does not involve being the big bully or hitting and scaring your dog. It all comes down to the very simple way that all dogs (and humans too!) understand true social structure. Our dog’s social structure is based on a safe group with a strong leader. The items I mentioned above help to direct your dog to the appropriate leader, but it does not definitively show who the leader is.
The bottom line is that whoever tells the rest of the group to do something and the group obeys; is the leader. Think about it a moment. You would never follow a fool. Your Mother always told you “If Bobby jumped off a cliff, would you jump too?”
If your dog comes over and puts his wet nose in your palm, wanting you to pet him, do not pet him. He is saying “I want you to pet me”. If you pet him, you have responded to his order and (unknowingly) told him he is the leader. He requires your constant focus and he has earned your total respect. He said “I want you to…” and you did.
You always want your dog to focus on you and act on your commands. You are his care giver, protector, and friend. He should be focused on you to see what comes next.
If he comes to you and puts his wet nose in your palm for a pet, ignore him. Once he turns away and has broken contact, you can call him to you to pet him. You have turned the tables and said to him, “I want to pet YOU”. Once he responds, he is naturally telling you that you are his boss.
When you can maintain your composure and have a clear understanding of what you want to accomplish with your dog’s behavior, it is amazing how fast you can achieve great results.
Please call Robin or me at (770) 718-7704 if you have any dog training questions. We have a lot of great dog training advice at Best Dog Trainers Roswell Georgia. Find all our phone numbers, text addresses and email contacts at Dog Training Help Center Roswell Georgia.