I was recently on a follow up lesson with a client to make sure the owners and their dog were doing well with the training exercises. We reviewed their wish list of behaviors they had wanted to work on when training began. During the discussion my clients asked me how strict do they need to be with the enforcing the rules now that their dog knew the rules and followed them most of the time. They were happy that their dog had become a well behaved dog, but they wanted to make sure he was still having fun.
One behavior their dog was doing was running back and forth at the fence whenever someone walked past. He was not barking or acting aggressive. In fact, his tail was wagging, his body language was relaxed, and he seemed to enjoy the behavior. If the owners called him to them, he would stop and come right to them. The owners wanted to know if it was OK to let their dog do this.
This is a question that I get often. If you are following the rules of good dog training, then you are being consistent with the rules that you have set in place for your dog. Everyone gets dogs for different reasons. Everyone wants something different from their dog, and everyone has different things that might bother them or not. Some people want a goofy dog and others a perfectly well-behaved dog. Others want a dog for companionship to hang out with and others to share our time and play with. All of these things are possible, based on the individual needs of the owner.
So I asked my client if they were ok with their dog running back and forth at the fence. If they were, and they continued to practice recall so he would still come to them when they needed him, then it was fine to have their dog have some fun and run at the fence. In this case, the rules were just right.
Some things to think about for your rules with your dog:
- Is your dog safe?
- Is anyone in the general vicinity of the behavior safe?
- Does the behavior affect any neighbors, or township ordinances?
If the answer is “no” to any of the questions, then it is up to the owner to decide what they would like to do. If the answer is “yes”, then the owner should correct the behavior in order to be a good neighbor and dog owner.
There is no set of guidelines in establishing how strict or lenient your rules should be with living with your dog. If you just use your common sense, you will arrive at the correct answer.
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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