As the new school year approaches, we can reminisce of the feeling of new classes, new schools and new teachers. When you were older and your teacher was new, you might pick up on how nervous she was in the beginning of the new school year. If this was the case, then you may have not given her your full and undivided attention, until she became more confident in her teaching style. This is the same when you are teaching your dog to have the right behaviors. You need to be a confident and calm educator.
It comes down to your ability to display an attitude that shows you are resolutely confident in your decision and direction you are enforcing. If, deep down inside, you are afraid that something won’t work, you will naturally communicate that to everyone around you. It won’t matter what you say, if you don’t “feel it”, people will question what you are saying. That is the same response that your dog will provide if you don’t show a resolutely confident attitude and demeanor. This is not just about the commands “Come”, “Sit”, Stay”, “Don’t Jump”, etc. This is even before that. This is the foundation that you must establish in order to carry out your commands and rules.
So, how do you create this “I really mean it” attitude? First, you must understand that you have the ability to accomplish the action you are about to require from your dog. This means that you have not overstepped your physical ability to get the action accomplished. If you are going to command your dog to come to you, you must have already examined all the possible outcomes after your command is given and if you have solutions for any deviation.
You must provide a physical presence with the correct body language that shows you are calm and confident. Do not get over excited or over exaggerated when giving your rules or interacting with your dog. Creating chaos is not the sign of a strong leader and only adrenalizes your dog.
You must be consistent in your communication and commands with your dog. The more you are consistent and repetitive with your dog, the more he will learn and respect your commands. This will keep the adrenaline level down and increase the focus between you and your dog. A clear understanding builds the needed bond and relationship between you and your dog.
If you give up when your dog is not listening, it immediately shows you are not the leader and you will lose the critical focus from your dog that you need to “get the win”. Not giving in does not mean hitting and yelling. It means that your dog probably doesn’t understand what you are requesting. For example, if you have told him to get off the couch and he doesn’t move, you don’t hit him and push him off. You might put his leash on his collar, and repeat your command, and guide him to the carpet. Now you are finding alternative way to teach your dog your rule. Now yours and his learning are in sync. Sometimes it is more important to get the win in the end, than what you started out to get the win for in the beginning.
It is amazing what a proper attitude can achieve.
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, northern Chester County and eastern Berks County. For more information, call 1-877-500 BARK (2275) or visit www.barkbusters.com.
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