A prospective client called us the other day and told Robin that he was trying to teach his dog commands and to be a good dog, but nothing seems to be working.  The dog wasn’t staying when commanded  and the “come” command didn’t work.  The dog wouldn’t pay attention, jump on him. and was always barking. He told us that he was completely befuddled!  What was going wrong?

Robin and I have heard this complaint from dog owners over and over again.  In fact, it is one of the main reasons people call us.  We find that it is often an issue with first time dog owners.  They don’t understand that before a dog can be “trained”, some general concepts need to be established.  Here are the highlights that Robin shared with our prospective client and we would like to share them with you:

  • All Dogs crave consistency.  Dogs don’t understand complicated or multi-path situations.  When ever a dog hears a specific sound (like SIT), he knows to put his rear on the ground.  The dog must know he can never jump on people.  When things begin to get complicated, such as a client allowing his dog to jump on him but not his guests, their dog does not know how to respond.  So make sure that when you give your dog a command or expect specific behavior, the outcome you require will always be consistent.I know that this sounds simple and even obvious.  “Do the same thing all the time” isn’t a hard task to maintain.  But, Robin and I have seen clients break this rule time and time again.  Most of the time it is right in front of us no more than a few minutes after we have discussed it with our clients.  This is something that we need to focus on when dealing with our dogs.  If we don’t they won’t listen and learn.
  • Teach your dog what he has the ability to learn.  To put this a different way, you need to know your dog’s current skill set.  If your dog doesn’t know “sit”, you will never get him to “stay”.  When you are calling your dog to come to you and he doesn’t come, calling him over and over again will not fix the problem.  He just doesn’t understand what you want.  You need to figure out what he knows and start there to enhance what he knows to finally accomplish what you want.  It just like our teachers starting to teach us math by asking 1+1 and moving on to division and multiplication.  Identify what your dog knows and expand from there.Also remember that you are the teacher in this process.  Before you begin any lesson, assume that your dog will need some help in accomplishing your goal.  Figure out how you will passively teach him to reach the goal if he currently “doesn’t get it”.  If your dog just isn’t “getting it”, don’t push.  learning is not a race and there is no penalty in taking a break, slowing it down, or even backing up a little bit.  All of understand that we know that 1+1=2.  None of us can remember how long it took us to learn that, or even care.
  • You always must be in charge.  Don’t forget that the relationship consists of you being the teacher and your dog being the student. Your dog must always give you respect and provide you focus to allow you to teach and for him to learn.  If you deliver a SIT command and he runs out the door, that really isn’t a good “teaching moment”.  Make sure your dog always is leashed before you enter into teaching moments.  If you tell him to SIT, he can’t run away and you can use the leash as a tool to help and guide him into the SIT.  This works perfectly with other commands such as come. off, down, etc.

Sometimes the best solutions are the most obvious, sitting there right in front of your nose.  You probably think these solutions appear too simple, but dogs crave the simple.  All you have done is to create an environment where you have the tools to teach and your dog is ready to learn.

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 professionals for over fifteen years.  We have trained over 5,000 great dogs and loving families and are ready to help you.