There is a saying, “frustration ends where knowledge begins” and if you get frustrated with your dog, maybe this is a great article for you.
When I meet a frustrated owner, it is very common that their dog is frustrated also, makes sense I suppose, the dog wants something the owner does not want the dog to want.
So, it may look like a bit of a relationship tug of war.
Train for it
When we are training a dog for a job or sport, part of the training is to teach the dog how to overcome distraction.
So many people ask, “how do you get the dog to ignore food and toys?” The short answer is, WE TRAIN FOR IT.
People come to see me with a dog for a behaviour consult, we ask that they keep their dogs on leash whilst we go through the forms. At this time, I can figure out the dogs’ expectations and respect they have, or don’t have for the owner.
When many dogs are not given free choice to run around our indoor training room, doing what ever they like, they jump on the owners, bark in their face, lunge into the leash, dig into the floor, climb on the couch and owners and many other behaviours that simply see their dog say – “I will not sit down quietly, I want I want I want”.
There are no other dogs in the room or people, just the owner, me on a chair and the dog.
I get asked, “can I let her off to run around” and I ask them not to.
But what we are talking about here is simply asking the dog to sit with the owner whilst the owner discusses something with another person.
The dog expects the owner to entertain it, or let it entertain itself and when I don’t allow this to happen, I often see a dog being constantly stroked and petted whilst it whines to try and appease the dog.
I hear “she never does this at home”. Well of course not, she is free to do anything and everything she pleases.
Teaching a dog to relax in a down next to you has so many “life benefits” for both you and your dog, it is a must.
Going out to brunch with your dog, an outdoor movie, a picnic, going camping etc. or coming to a sporting event, all these can be done simply if you train for it.
What more commonly happens is that the dog is taken to these events without training, and he or she has no idea how to behave and ends up frustrated and the owner ends up the same, with an outcome of, don’t bring the dog the next time.
Both of the dogs in the above picture are protection trained and will bite on cue, very hard, but when cued to lay down for an hour, that is what they do, train for it.
It does not take long before the dog cannot go anywhere, so goes no where except for a walk around the block where he or she pulls like crazy looking for some level of enrichment, and the owner allows this as “this is all the dog has”.
Don’t ask what you have not trained
Owners calling their dogs to come when the dog has not had the recall trained, then becoming frustrated when the dog won’t come.
Giving a heel cue when their dog becomes distracted and the dog has no idea what “heel” is.
So, the cue heel is given, and the dog pulled around by the leash, again both frustrated.
You don’t have to be good to start, but you have to start to be good.
Many people train or try to train their dog when the dog is distracted and behaving badly, that’s when they call heel and “no!” and lost of other cues the most.
Well that is the least likely time the dog will listen.
So, to start properly here are a few tips that can really help.
- Start when you have time to train, 15 minutes is a great amount of time.
- Train at home in a non stimulating environment, don’t compete with distractions when your starting, they are for later.
- Work out a way to motivate your dog, this might start by using the dogs evening meal, like this program I wrote, The Triangle of Temptation. (http://k9protraining.com.au/2012/04/04/the-triangle-of-temptation/)
- Train for 30 days without measuring results. This will be more than you need but better to aim low and finish high.
- Aim at just getting your dog interested in your, listening to you and letting your dog show you that he or she CAN learn, is intelligent and CAN be trained.
This will help you see the benefits of training, see what is involved, learn how to motivate your dog teach your dog how to communicate with you.
How will this fix major problems in my dog?
It won’t, there are no magic tricks that replace work. Work = repetition, time, effort, breaking down steps to pieces your dog can understand and training each step to a level of competency.
If you become determined, we can teach you any of the steps you cant do or don’t know how to do.
Start small, finish big.
With some dogs that come to us for rehab, we may start with the dog just eating a piece of food off the floor within 3 meters of us, some dogs we have to start THAT small.
But we need to lift the bar each interaction so we CAN finish big.
In the video below, the German Shepherd could not be touched, would not eat and will bite if you put your hand near him.
I started with just teaching him an alternative to biting me, but he finished big with us.
No point giving up, giving in or quitting, those never work, perhaps you have tried before, tried trainers, tried medication, tried everything!
Well it is time to TRY AGAIN, hit that reset button, and come at this from another angle, message us, perhaps we can help you.
We get some really difficult dogs come in here, they are not always ranked the most difficult because they are aggressive, they may be averse to giving up old (undesirable) habits, they might love the old behavior so much they fight to keep it, like an addict; but we start with just a small piece, then work only on that and put aside the big picture right now.
We get success, even it is just a tiny little thing, but we celebrate that and build on it.
Big Success is made with lots of little things…