A obedient dog! A dog that listens no matter what. If they can see a reward or not. I think that’s everyone’s dream. In this blog post I’ll be covering the core topics of how to be your dogs advocate, how to set them up for success and be an empathic dog owner.
Respect your dogs fears and do not as them to do things you know are too fast for them.
It seems so simple but I see it all the time. Setting your dog up for success sometimes takes time to figure out. Always take a second to ask yourself ‘Have I prepared my dog enough for this?’ before asking them to do something.
Surprise rewards. Creating a reward system
Treats should be phased out when learning something new within the first approximately 10 attempts. Treats become part of the cue and they become bribery. A good reward system is training your dog to trust that you will provide a reward - please send me a message if you are not sure on how to do this.
Take yourself out of training situations where you are becoming frustrated
We’ve all done it! Most of the time it comes down to us training too quickly and who can blame us when we’re so enthusiastic about our dogs progress. A calm and confident mindset is so important for your dogs learning.
Have the confidence of a leader - if you don’t then try to fake it! Be confident in your own abilities to handle and train your dog
This links nicely to the last point. This can be such a struggle for some of us especially when we have disabilities that cause us to be doubtful and anxious. Please talk to me through each situation you’re going through and we can find a way to make you truly feel confident or at the least - fake it so your dog thinks you are!
Create clear and consistent boundaries
This also applies for cues. We’ve also all done this one.. Taught our dogs great boundaries and manners and let them slip over time, or accepted the sit on the second or third cue.
Expanding on the term boundaries above, wait-stay and then release cues are something so vital in giving your dog direct in WHEN they have freedom. Freedom is incredibly important in creating an obedient dog. Some people have an expectation of a beautifully heeling focused dog 24/7 but then feel strange about letting their dog rough and tumble in the long grass. If you want a good ON switch you need a good OFF switch - even better if you tell your dog when they get the OFF time.
I like to call this one ‘doggy patience’. Just as humans can be naturally patient and inpatient dogs can too. Thats the wonderful thing about each dog having a different personality. However tolerance to emotion and frustration is something we can help our dogs to build through things like leave it training, boundaries, games and obedience training. You’d be surprised how much these things influence each other… want to stop your dog from running up to other dogs - satisfy their dog play needs, reduce freedom, reinforce recall AND also practice your leave it training and other frustration tolerance exercises.
Remove your dog or act in situations that they are uncomfortable in
Dog advocacy. Knowing what your dogs likes and dislikes are is so important. Ill use some examples for this.. Summer doesn’t like dogs body slamming her to play, other dogs love this! If I see this happening I’ll step in every time, ask her for a middle and block the dog from getting to her whilst explaining she’s not the biggest fan of rough play. Over time she knows to come to me and go to middle when this happens. I make the disliked thing stop - she trusts me to be her voice. Summer also didnt particularly like the sound of metal banging. This is a concept we’re more used to as assistance dog handlers - desensitisation. If we come across some loud construction we’ll take a moment to act and conquer this at her pace.
Rethink your training structure
Consistency is key. Are you training at the right time of day for your dog that lines up with their body clock too?
Learn your dogs stress signals and respect them
I’ve written a document called ‘a guide to dog stress’ which I think would be very linked to this point. Similar to the dog advocacy, being able to understand your dogs body language is a big thing, so is your dog realising that you are listening to them!
Don’t expect your dog to be perfect if their needs are not met
Last but possibly the most important point. This pairs so nicely with the ON/OFF switch concept. Your dog may well be able to heel perfectly past seeing other dogs without playing for 2 weeks but.. should you do it? No unless there is a legitimate reason why their needs have not been met. I know this is something I struggled with personally whilst raising Summer! I was so frustrated when she failed recall to chase squirrels until I realised we hadn’t touched a flirt pole in a week. A good routine can help us be the best dog owners we possibly can be.
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