What one thing could you do, starting today, to improve your dog’s behavior? Consider this…
Much of dog training isn’t about what the dog is doing. It is what you are, or are not, doing with your dog. Many people tell me that their dog “doesn’t listen”, or is “stubborn”.
What they are really saying, though they don’t realize it, is their dog isn’t well managed. But the focus is on the dog rather than on what the owner isn’t doing with their dog.
I believe it all starts with the owner having a proper mindset.
I don’t believe in dog training lessons. What I mean by that is you can’t have an obedient, well mannered dog by thinking that you can do a 10 minute lesson every day. The other 23 hours and 50 minutes of doing nothing productive, and not working on your relationship, overrides that tiny amount of input. Instead, I believe in dog training as a lifestyle and a relationship, that all hours your dog is awake, your dog is learning something as part of your family group. How you set up and manage that environment determines whether your dog will “listen”.
Here is one of my secrets to having a well behaved dog: I am mindful with all dogs I’m working with. For example, they know I’m watching them. Lower ranked social animals spend more time being attentive to higher ranked animals in their group. If dogs recognize they are being observed by a higher ranked group member, they will be more compliant. That mindfulness will then cause everything else you do with your dog to flow in the right direction.
That doesn’t mean I’m staring at them. I don’t want to make them afraid of me. But they do notice I’m being watchful of them, and they are better behaved around me. It is one of the reasons why dogs are better behaved when I go to someone’s house for a lesson, even if the dog doesn’t know me. People will say that normally their dogs are more rude to people, but with me there, the dog is better behaved. There are other such things I do around dogs which enhance everything else I do with them, thus dogs obey me, and my students, better than with other people.
I also have clear goals regarding what I want a dog to be like in the future, and I work towards those goals in all my interactions with each dog. I make micro-steps towards those goals all the time, and look for learning opportunities throughout the day. Yes, we still do our programmed homework, but you are a dog parent all the time, not just during the lessons.
If you want to learn more about how I do this, then we should train together. You’ll pick up on my vibe, and you’ll see more and more how I do this. Dogs love me, and part of that love comes from respecting me and learning to work with me. Your dog can listen, your dog doesn’t need to remain stubborn. But it all starts in your head, not in theirs.