Usually the topics for Training Tips Tuesday is about correcting your dog’s poor behaviors or helping your dog behave properly. I thought this week, I would address how humans behave when it comes to their dogs, how we can sometimes annoy our dogs, and even create some of their bad behaviors.
- Chances are your dog loves hugs from you and your family members. As a dog owner, we think hugging means love and affection. However, many dogs get annoyed at tight hugging, especially from strangers or children. Remember that dogs don’t have arms, so hugging is an unnatural act for them. It’s like when your Aunt Irma used to pinch your cheeks as a child. You tolerated this behavior but didn’t like it. When an unfamiliar child approaches your dog, he may see this as threatening and respond by biting. Tell your guests to gently pet your dog on his torso.
- Small children often tease dogs because they really don’t understand what they are doing. They may pull on his tail, try to ride him as a horse, or even move his food bowl while eating. Although children see this as a game, a dog does not and even the calmest dog can become aggressive.
- Mixed signals. Without realizing it, you may be giving your dog inconsistent signals. For instance, you may allow your dog to greet you and jump on you when you get home. However, if he jumps on visitors, you yell at him. Or maybe you don’t like him begging at the dinner table, but you sneak him table scraps. Your dog will behave best when your rules are consistent and you have established yourself as the leader of the pack. If you don’t want him to jump on visitors, don’t let him jump on anyone. Dogs thrive on structure and routine.
- Tight leash. Think about it: how would you like to walk with a tight noose around your neck? Too many dogs walk their dog owners and constantly pull on the leash. Every dog should be trained how to obediently walk on a leash. Harnesses, such as the WaggWalker, can make the walk much more enjoyable for both you and your dog as he learns to walk calmly by your side. A loose leash signals your dog that you are calm and in control, whereas a tight leash indicates that you are tense or nervous. Also, make some time during the walk for your dog to smell all the unfamiliar scents in the outdoors. Don’t just think of a walk as just a potty break! Let your dog take in his world via his nose.
- Speaking English. How often do you expect your dog to know what you are saying? Remember that your dog can’t speak English and you need to be taught how to speak dog. Dogs can be taught certain commands like “sit”, “stay” and “come”, but their vocabulary and comprehension is limited. Just know that there are a number of things dog owners do that make their dogs want to pull their fur out! They don’t have the words to tell you that you are driving them crazy.
Jeri Wagner is a canine behavioral therapist and master trainer. Jeri uses a natural training system leveraging the same communication methods – body language and voice control – that dogs follow as part of their instinctive pack mentality. Training takes place in the home where the problems generally occur. Jeri trains in western Montgomery county and northern Chester County. For more information, call 1-877-500 BARK (2275) or visit www.barkbusters.com.
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