Question the advice you are being told for your dog.
I am constantly amazed at the advice owners are given for their dogs, for both training and behaviour. More recently I was chatting to a friend who was relaying a story about a dog owner and the advice that they were given for their eight-month-old puppy: Dog Owner: My dog jumps up and gets excited when I get the lead out for the walk. Dog trainer: Put the dog in a room and shut the door and continue to do this until the dog calms down. Question: What is the dog is learning here – how on earth is putting the dog away in another room going to solve the problem of the dog becoming excited when the lead comes out for a walk. Logic: Teach the dog what you would like him or her to do – why not teach a sit to have the lead put on. Right from the start, I teach owners how to be calm around their dogs, how to teach puppies/dogs to be calm, how to relax an over-excited puppy/dog. Today I taught a very excited dog that when the lead comes out, they sit and it involved some calming exercises and reward based training – both the dog and I were in the same room.
Dog Owner: My dog brings me a ball to play with him/her. Dog trainer: If your dog brings you a ball in the house you are to ignore it as this is the dog displaying dominance and you must play when you decide. Question: What is dominant about a dog bringing you a ball to play with him/her? Besides the the theory behind “dominance” has been completely disproven. Logic: Playing with your dog means you are bonding with your dog, it will also mean that it helps reinforce recall, it helps strengthen the bonds and makes it fun for the dog to interact with the owner. I play with my dogs every day – every chance I get whether they bring me a ball or toy or whether I go out and initiate play – its fun, its exciting and strengthens my bond with my dogs. Question what you are told – I love it when owners ask me questions or say why are we doing this, it shows that they need to know why it is important for them and why they need to teach the dog, it also shows that I can explain the reasons behind it (logically!).]]>