The Whole Pie! Not Just a Piece
How do I stop my dog from taking my shoes? How to I stop her from biting my pant legs? These questions are never ending. Everyone wants the magic pill. They want the well trained dog yet aren’t willing to or feel overwhelmed by the entire process of raising and training a puppy.
It’s never the dog alone with the problem that needs to be solved. It’s the dynamic between you and the dog or the family dynamic. One needs to consider the whole piece of the pie.
To enjoy a healthy well adjusted adult dog, time needs to be put into raising and training your puppy. Sorry folks, there is no magic pill. The amount of time and energy you put into being frustrated with your dog, constantly putting him in a crate or chasing after him for grabbing a shoe, can be spent training your dog by setting him up to win.
So, what is setting him up to win? It’s the WHOLE piece of the pie?
EXERCISE your pup every day. In fact, 2 wipeout sessions a day is ideal. This means vigorously exercise your dog for at least 20 minutes in the morning and again in the early evening. These exercises include: fetch, playdates with other dogs, hiking, swimming, agility, running off leash in a safe area, etc. A tired dog is a happy dog.
TRAINING: obedience in distractions, social interaction with people and other dogs; get out of the house and out of the back yard and stimulate your dogs mind allowing for the natural instincts to be nurtured. Training should be done in short periods of time throughout the day and at least 2 times a day. More shorter periods are better. This training lays a foundation of respect and encourages your dog to seek positive attention rather than negative because training is fun and positive, right? Right! It’s one-on-one positive time spent with your dog and after a successful training session, your pup will take a long nap because you’ve just stimulated his little mind.
LEARN to read dog body language. Knowing what your dog is telling you is an important piece of the pie. Without it you are missing an integral part of knowing how to be with your dog.
SET your dog up to win. Don’t wait for something to happen and then deal with it. For instance, if you are going on vacation with your dog and he’s not used to the car. Have lots of mini training sessions going for short rides increasing the time and distance so that when the time comes, your dog is used to the car. Before you have your boss for dinner, invite dog loving friends over first using them to see what issues you may have with your dog so that you can work on them before the big night with the boss. Planning ahead is one of the easiest and most effective ways you can train your dog. You are learning what triggers your dog beforehand and are better prepared to work on these issues molding and shaping your dog, setting him up to win.
EVERY interaction with your dog is a training session. Either you are training him or he’s training you. And I mean every interaction; from walking down the stairs politely, waiting for meals politely, taking treats politely, playing fetch, tug or going for a walk… is still a training session. You are teaching your dog how to behave each time you interact so everything you do with your dog is an opportunity to train, molding your pup to be a well mannered and well adjusted dog.
CONSISTENCY is key to successfully raising a puppy.
BE aware of how much you chatter. Do you say things like ‘stay here’ or ‘come here’ yet the dog doesn’t do what you’ve asked and since you’re busy or distracted you’ve just taught the dog that when your distracted all bets are off and he can do whatever he wants.
FOLLOW through every time. Do you ask your dog to do something and then not follow through? When you don’t follow through, you’ve just taught your pup that he can do whatever he wants.
RESPOND DON’T REACT. Be aware of your own body language and energy. Dogs are highly reactive beings and love to get a rise out of us. If your dog is doing something you don’t want or like, respond in a calm manner while redirecting and teaching your dog the appropriate behavior that you’re looking for.
SUPERVISE your puppy. A puppy is like a toddler. You wouldn’t leave a toddler unsupervised, so don’t leave a pup unsupervised either.
BE conscious of your own body language and energy. A dogs first language is body language and energy. They are watching your body language before they are listening to your voice. So, if you’re pup is grabbing your pant legs and you are getting frustrated yelling NO stop it while pulling your leg away, you are being reactive and this triggers the dog to think it’s a game. Tug-o-war with a toy or your pants is pretty much the same thing to a dog so it’s up to us to teach him otherwise. This can only happen when we become more conscious of our own body language and energy.
Now let’s create spoiled rotten, disciplined dogs and enjoy the pie.