Showing your dog love

Showing your dog love.

I recently received a dog publication in the mail that was titled at the top: “How much do you love your dog?” Underneath that line, there was a list of things that you could buy to “show your dog how you feel” about them. They were the following:

-Treats
-Toys
-Clothes
-More treats.
Let me tell you what I think is the best way to show your dog love: -An open field

- The beach.
-Trails in the woods.
- Structure and leadership

The publication was indicating that we should “humanize” our dogs”, meaning that we should assume that the things we would love and appreciate are the things that they would love and appreciate. We are so bonded with our dogs that so many of
us forget that they are dogs. The reality is that dogs are NOT people. Dogs are dogs, which means they have a very different thought process than us. Dogs are pack animals that have strong instincts to know their order within that pack, and to listen to a single pack leader, which is why they continuously crave and need rules, limits, and boundaries to keep them balanced, secure and happy.

I will tell you here and now that spoiling your dog with treats, toys and designer outfits is NOT going to make your dog happy, but real world dog training is going to make both your dog and you happier than you can imagine. Real world dog training is allowing your dog to run freely in those open fields, beaches and hiking trails under your guidance as your dog’s pack leader, without the restrictions of
a leash. Real world dog training is about being able to take your dog anywhere with you with absolute confidence that your dog will make good choices because
it actually understands the correct way to behave. Real world dog training will unleash the animal’s true spirit, that we as humans, should be obligated to do. If you truly care about your dog, it is your responsibility as your dog’s companion and leader to be aware of what it instinctually needs as the animal it is, which is the very best way to show your dog love.

Training methods coming from a highly emotional standpoint using only positive rewards such as treats, unlimited affection and toys are not going to work for real world dog training. These reward-based techniques may work extremely well for agility training, service dog training, or having your dog sit for you in a room, but are they going to help you integrate your dog seamlessly into your life? No.

If someone tells me that their dog is well trained, and I ask them if they can go anywhere without a leash, more often than not, they look at me with horror and say they’d never trust their dog to have a perfect recall in unfamiliar and/or distracting areas. Let me tell you something. It’s not about trust. It’s about control. If you
are not in control as the alpha pack leader, then your dog is not well trained and not living its best life possible. So how do we accomplish having complete control? Communication. When I train dogs, I establish communication.

To achieve the leadership you must have in order for your dog to be happy and balanced, you need be able to communicate with your dog in its own language, which means putting the human emotions aside. A mother dog is strict with
her puppies, giving them limits from the moment they were born. Dogs don’t communicate by verbal reasoning. They communicate by using quick
corrections and moving on.

When did we as humans begin to accept bad behavior just because we feel guilty correcting the dog? It is a disservice to the dog and everyone else when you are not asking for good manners by simply ignoring the bad behavior and letting it continue. At what point did we accept that it’s better for us and the dog to isolate the dog when we know it will make bad choices, rather than changing our approach to training so the dog can be involved?

It is okay to feel a little discomfort when you change the way you think and react to bad behavior. Change is never comfortable. The key is to realize that it is far more uncomfortable to continue to allow the bad behavior for the rest of the dog’s life. If you simply step outside of your comfort zone and change your training technique, you will be able to derive pleasure from a well-behaved dog that will not only make your life easier, but your dog’s as well.

Sometimes in life we need to accept temporary discomfort for the long-term benefits. If you give the dog a bit of discomfort with a quick correction it will instantly learn that the behavior will not be tolerated because dogs will not do anything that is uncomfortable to them. This does not mean that the dog will stop the behavior because it’s frightened of you or pain! It’s the dog’s natural tendency to learn and understand that an undesirable behavior equals discomfort, and therefore is not worth doing. Humans learn this as well, but dogs are lucky because they figure it out much quicker than we do. So when will we, as logical, rational humans realize that the pain of isolation due to bad manners is far greater to a dog

than a split second correction, which is a natural form of communication to a dog? Remember that by making small, consistent changes each day we will bring about massive change in the long term.

A real world example: Lets say a dog is running around a doggy daycare mounting the other dogs. To stop this behavior, the employee walks up to that dogs, puts a leash on the rude dog, and puts the dog into “time out. “ The time out first of all isn’t teaching the dog; it is humanizing the dog. Dogs don’t understand time outs, because they can’t connect what happened sixty seconds ago to the time out that is happening now. Secondly, if you are pulling one dog on a leash out of a group of dogs off leash, you are inviting a fight. Time outs simply confuse and punish the dog, avoid the issue at hand, and can easily lead to a dangerous situation. Now lets say that doggy daycare employee is holding a lunge whip, and the instant that undesirable behavior begins, the employee gently touches the dog with a tap and a “knock it off.” The dog quickly learns that the mounting behavior won’t be tolerated, and then gets to stay in the play area and actually learn. The same results can also be achieved if that offending dog had on a remote collar and was given a "gentle" reminder to stop the unwanted behavior.

Can you imagine if all dog owners used their logic, learned about their dog’s actual needs and gave their dog exactly that? Happy and balanced dogs are absolute pleasures to own, and would not be given up on easily. Imagine your dog being able to accompany you anywhere, respect and respond to you in any situation, and always be welcomed, because they were so well behaved?

If there were more balanced and therefore happier dogs in this world, the pet overpopulation would drop. Dogs would be far less likely to be given up on,
and killed. To me, POSITIVE training means that the dog gets to live its best life possible, and in order to do that, we need to stop humanizing our dogs, and instead, learn about the options and skills necessary in order to communicate in a way they understand, which in turn, allows our connection with them to grow into perfect harmony.

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