What was your dream?

You dreamed of that puppy for so many nights, you knew what you wanted and how it was all going to unfold, slow motion running down the beach, picnics with dog friends and …

None of that is happening.

Your dog is out of control, aggressive, will not allow guests in your home, screams when you leave him or her alone, you have to walk at very early hours or late hours to avoid everyone else, you can’t get your dog to the vet or groomer… and maybe some things I have missed.

Your friends and relatives think you need to get rid of this dog, but you love him.

Maybe it is not that bad, but is it THE DREAM?

Have you gotten used to bad behaviour?

Here is a thought, if you had a friend that when you went for a walk, would run off to do better things unless you stopped them with a length of rope, would you call that a good relationship?

I am not talking about leash laws here, nor suggesting you do not use a leash, but would your dog stay with you if it were just you?

No food, no toys – just you?

What about if someone knocks on your front door, will your dog run to the door or stay with you if you ask?

If the answer is no, this may be why those dreams are not coming true.

With dogs, like people, good relationships take work, but the benefits are huge and elements of that relationship that you do not have now, may be things like: –

  • Trust
  • Cooperation
  • Give and take
  • Respect
  • Engagement

But if the relationship is not ideal, you may see elements such as: –

  • Entitlement
  • High Expectations
  • Interest only when you have food
  • Disinterest in you
  • Anxiety
  • Aggression
  • Resource guarding
  • Territorial behaviours
  • Self-serving behaviours

This is going to mean that as soon as your dog see’s something they want, they are going to try dam hard to get to it, demand it, scream when denied it and if you have no leash, go to it.

It does not have to be this way.

Dogs that are well behaved will of course get to go more places, enjoy more freedom, and enjoy more life experiences, but good behaviour does not just happen.

Dogs are good because we teach them how to be good. If you DON’T teach them to be good, they are going to be… dogs.

Set some goals!

If you do not have plan, it’s just a wish or a dream.

Each dog we train here at K9Pro starts by us setting goals then working back to where the dogs is now and making a plan to get from here to there.

Rather than attack the worst of the dogs behaviours, we will often focus on what the dog “should be” doing and go about teaching those steps first.

It does not take very long to see a dog enjoying displaying these new behaviours, feeling confident, empowered and earning rewards.

It is later that these new behaviours are going to be the only ones the dog displays.

Don’t settle for less!

If the dream hasn’t come true, don’t settle!

Take a fresh look at your goals and we can help you create, teach and train the formative steps.

We will gradually raise the “distraction” bar where these behaviours will become default, they will be how your dog behaves all of the time.

The video below shows us working with two German Shepherds. Both of these dogs came to us because they were aggressive towards other dogs. When they first saw each other 20 metres away, they both exploded with aggression.

You have tried before?

So, try again, the longer a dog displays a behaviour, the more reinforcement that behaviour gets. The harder it will be to change it.

Training programs that work will show progress in every or almost every session, if you’re not seeing progress it is time to re-evaluate your training plan.

Your dog deserves the plan that helps him or her reach their potential as fast as possible so they can be part of that dream sooner.

It may not be easy…

But it wont get easier by putting it off. We have had people come to see us that have been trying to change their dogs behaviour for years without any success.

If this is you, something is wrong. 

It should not take this long.

When I meet people who are suffering like this, I take a close look at what they have been doing and analyze the following: –

  • What they are doing 
  • Why they are doing it
  • How are they motivating their dog to display behaviours
  • How are they reinforcing the behaviours they want 
  • What level of risk is the dog to the owner, public and other animals
  • The dogs age and how long the dog has been displaying this behaviour
  • The stress the owner is suffering
  • The home environment, people, children and other animals in the home
  • The owners level of skill
  • The dogs ability to control and regulate his or her emotions
  • The owners goals

Sometimes, we just have to understand that some dogs don’t fit into some plans. This means changing the plan or changing the dog.

Here is an example: Someone comes to see me and they describe their dog as hyper active, always wanting to chase things, barks a lot and never settles down.

Their goals are to have a dog that is a couch buddy and sits around with them day in, day out, going for a slow walk couple of times a week.

They have a Malinois.

THIS IS NOT EVER GOING TO HAPPEN

The behaviours they are describing are breed traits, not behaviour problems. This person has the wrong breed or the wrong goals and no amount of training will change a Malinois into a couch potato.

Yes they can be taught an off switch, yes they can be taught “when to chase” and “what” to chase and they can be taught to settle if this is combined with a very active training regime.

This is the case for any high drive dog, so choosing the correct breed is a big part of making that dream come true.

The same goes in reverse if you want to compete in a high performance dog sport and you have a Saint Bernard! Your dreams will never to fruition as the dog is just incapable, physically and mentally.

It is not common that we advise people that they have the wrong dog before discussing what the dog could do with training and seeing if that is something the owner can do.

Dogs can be flexible, and adjust their behaviours quite a bit, when they wont there is usually a problem with the training.

Below is a bit of a long video, but it does show a lot of how I would begin working with a dog and the goals I have to get into the right relationship with the dog, before I tackle the big triggers.

 

About SteveK9Pro

Steve Courtney is a Nationally Accredited Canine Behaviour Specialist, Obedience Trainer, Law Enforcement Dog Trainer and ANKC Breeder. Steve has been training dogs all his life and in these articles he shares with you his experience...

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