Training Tip: Let Your Dog Earn Freedom

Mama Sally:  One of the biggest mistakes I think owners make with their dogs is in giving them too much freedom, too quickly.  Trust me on this:  it never, ever leads to anything good!

Photo Credits: Jamie Pflug Flickr Creative Commons

What I see every day when I’m training, are naughty dogs who get into all kinds of mischief and trouble because they are given the opportunity to do so.  The only way you’re going to have any kind of meaningful correction is to catch your dog red-handed while he’s being naughty.  After the fact corrections do no good.  You’re wasting time and energy to scold unless you can catch your dog in the act.

That being said, very few owners want to really keep track of their dogs….they just want the dog to stop the naughty behavior!  Dogs and puppies are like human babies; none of them have been programmed for correct behavior from the factory.  We have to educate and train them, every step of the way!

Even though a dog can reach his adult size by 9 months of age, his brain and maturity is most decidedly puppy!  This is especially true for those larger dogs who mature more slowly.  Owners often forget that even though their dog weighs 70 pounds or more, they may have the mental and emotional maturity of a 5 year old!

Photo Credits: Frederick Armentia Flickr Creative Commons

I find that people are much more likely to be understanding of puppies and puppy behavior than they are with adult dogs who have been rescued.  Understand this about rescues:  There is often a behavioral reason(s) that the dog lost his last home.  If his previous owners didn’t teach him the appropriate way to behave, trust me….he just doesn’t know what to do.  Just because he’s 2-3 years old doesn’t mean he was ever taught how to behave.  With time and consistency in the rules, he will learn what you want.  Be patient!

Remember always that dogs don’t generalize things easily.  For example, that means that they need extra time to understand what things are okay items for chewing and what things are off limits.  Often, owners send their dogs out to play in the yard unsupervised, and if no one stops them for chewing on the patio furniture, they think it’s perfectly okay!  They don’t know that the furniture inside and outside is off limits for chewing.

So….the very best way to fix this is to be sure that you don’t let your dogs have freedom unsupervised.  When you catch them 100% of the time, they’ll learn so much more quickly what correct behavior looks like at your house.  If you can’t watch them, find a safe area for confinement so they can’t get into mischief!

This rule also follows for teaching them commands.  If they are off the leash, they control the universe and they can choose to do what they want.  Keep them on a leash when you train so that they don’t get too much freedom before they’ve learned to obey!

Rugby can tell you some things about this subject from a dog perspective!

He was my shadow…and still is!

Rugby James:  When I first commed to live wif the Mama, she made me wear a leash in the house for a very long time.  I couldn’t chew on the leash, and then if I was doing sumping naughty, she could pick up the leash to correct me.  Pfft!  It was hard getting away wif anyfing naughty what might also be fun!

But, the good news is that she helped me learn the rules of her house, what helped me relax and feel safe there. Rescue doggers gets nervous when we gets scolded, on account of we always worry that you’ll give us back.  We doesn’t know why we get gived back….it just happens….and it makes it harder at the next home, on account of we know what it’s like to get abandoned and not wanted by the Uprights what we were trusting.

Teaching Rugby to focus

When the Mama had me on the leash, I hadda stay wif her sos I didn’t get into stuff.  But, it helped me to feel secure wif her, and I still stay purty close to her even though I doesn’t hasta do that now.  See….doggers is always looking for patterns from Uprights and when doggers getsa stay close to them, we can learn their patterns sos we can fit into their world easier.

When we get too much freedom wifout really having a solid understanding and habit of good behavior, we just get into trubble.  And then when Uprights correct us only once in a while when they can catch us….we never really do learn what behavior they want from us.  And I fink….sumtimes….that’s what gets doggers kicked outta their families sos they end up in shelters…



  1. Vicki says

    Sally and Rugby this is a wonderful article today! You two are my inspiration to get through the hard times with Tucker.Ready your blog gives me more confidence and faith. THANK YOU

    • Sally says

      I'm so glad you liked today's post. Vicki! Your encouragement means the world to me! You can count on me to help you with Tucker in any way that I can! You've got GREAT gut instincts with your little guy, and I'm so proud of the team you've become together!! Corgi On....Corgi Strong, my friend! Thank YOU!! <3


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