Mama Sally: Today’s training tip is based upon a couple of conversations I’ve had with dog owners this week. So often, owners are frustrated with their dogs, jumping to conclusions that just aren’t fair or accurate.
In the first case, I had an owner whose dog is starting to become aggressively reactive to strangers and new dogs on walks. Rather than try something different, she has continued to do the same thing on walks…twice a day….for a year to eighteen months, which is a wonderful recipe for creating a naughty habit!
In the second case, I had an owner who told me how tough her dog was …refusing to sit when asked, which was very frustrating to the owner. She hadn’t had much success getting her dog to do much for her, so her conclusion was naturally that her dog was tough.
Hearing these things is always so difficult for me as a dog trainer, because I completely understand an owner’s frustration with their dogs. I get it. I honestly, truly, really DO get it. But what I just don’t get, is why problems are always invariably the dog’s fault! There. I said. it.
Part of this gets right to the heart of where I’ve grown as a trainer as a result of having Rugby as my teacher and student. Initially, I always blamed Rugby for not figuring things out too! And I insisted on expecting him to adapt to me, instead of the other way around. Even though I had worked with dogs for so so long, I still didn’t really get it myself! So naturally, I’m trying to help other dog owners understand things that I’ve learned, because I really do use a very different lens when I look at dog behavior since Rugby has come along.
Dog training is often really not rocket science. Like most things in life, it’s a matter of knowing what to do and when and how to do it! And what works for one dog simply doesn’t always work for the next one, so having an open mind to learn new things is a must in working with your pooch!
So when you see something naughty getting started with your pooch, think about doing something different so that you can get different results. Break the pattern! Stop the habit from forming! Asking a dog to sit on a rug instead of hardwood floors is so simple, and virtually every dog I train will happily comply on a rug, because dogs don’t slide like they do on hardwoods, tile or laminate flooring. It’s such a simple thing to think about, but thinking about it causes you to create a good environment for your dog’s compliance. And at the end of the day….that stubborn, tough dog is putty in your hands!
Rugby always has a different perspective, so I’m going to let him put in his two cents on this one!
Rugby James: You know, I’ve lived wif the Mama for eight years now. And you know, I’ve been working so hard to get her trained right! You know, she is purty stubborn in her own rights, and she doesn’t likesa change fings up very much. So I’ve really had all four paws full to help her understand how dogs really do work! Bless her heart….I can tell she’s trying, so I have been extra patient wif her.
Doggers really does try to make Uprights happy, when we can get a good grasp of what it is that you want us to do. I has always learned best by seeing strong consistent patterns what are predictable sos I can figure fings out and understand what is expected. My old owners mixed it up all the times, and sumtimes I got petted and sumtimes I got scolded, sos it’s purty hard for a lil dogger what has a small brain and no opposable fumbs!
Sumtimes I know owners is doing that on account of their dogger doesn’t get it, sos they try sumping else. But it’s really, really hard when you’re just a lil dogger and you is getting all kindsa different rules and patterns sos you can’t sort it all out. Owners doesn’t try stuff very good. They just mix it all up and it’s usually really a big mess for a dogger. I’ll tell you what, it just makes a lil dogger not wanna try any more, or sumtimes, doggers just decide to be bossy in wanting to do fings their way, on account of they’re tired of getting scolded.
When the Mama stepped back and taked a break from training stuff to just get to know me, I knew we was making progress. When she started trying to learn what I was saying wif my body language and my face and eyes, we really maked sum steps in a good direction. I hadda just keep doing what I knew to do until she figured it out, and finally she did!
So the take away for doggers here, is that Uprights CAN change! They can figure fings out if we just keep doing the right stuff to communicate smart stuff to them. We just hasta give them time and lubs them until they sort it all out. I really fink they try hard….but they just aren’t always smart to problem solve and change what they’re doing, so we just hasta lubs them while they work it out at their end.
I’m really proud of the team that the Mama and I has become togedder. We lubs each udder so very much, and we use teamwork when we getsa hiccup in our giddyup! We doesn’t give up….we just understands that we has hadda misunderstanding, and we work it out. That’s what friends do….they just keep lubbing each udder and they work it out! Barrooo!!! 😀