My Dog is My Rock

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The Ethos of Dog

Companion to competitive training with a focus on behavior.

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Filtering by Tag: Dog training

Yes or No...

As humans, we live our lives in a yes or no state.  
Yes, that will make me happy, and the results will feel great. 
No, that is unacceptable, and I will feel terrible after. 

With all that said, I find myself in conversations with clients over the value of the requests we make upon our dogs. In this blog, I will translate the dog's perspective of your requests.

Let's say you want "Petunia," (the two-year-old bulldog) to sit:
Petunia hears you say her name, so she willingly offers an ear to your voice, she knows you are going to ask her for something.  Then she hears the word sit.

Now,  some dogs, out of pure repetitive behavior may just plop their tush on the ground, but for educational purposes let's say she doesn't. What is happening with your overly trained, exceptionally smart dog?

I ask you to look at what is in Petunia's field of vision, what is she smelling or even doing when you ask her?  Is the value of that "thing" (she is so deeply involved in) greater than what you have to offer after she completes your request?  Would you, if you were in Petunia's place, stop doing whatever it is you are doing to sit?  

Ask yourself; Why do I  want her to sit?  Really, why? If it happens to be an emergency, I am sure your very well trained dog will hear the tone of your voice and immediately sit. However, this scenario is not an emergency. 

Let's dig a little deeper; During your training process (however long ago that was) did you continually pay her with food, affection or play for doing what you ask? (I hope you were if you were teaching). Thinking about now, do you still pay Petunia with all that food, affection and play when you ask her to sit?  Probably not, especially if she doesn't offer a quick response to your command.

Going back to the yes or no status of OUR lives, would you, if you were Petunia, consider the value of sitting down a big HECK YES, or a big HECK NO, considering the value of your "reward" for doing it?

I ask you, for your dog's happiness,  layer back in some value. Get back into giving some reward, more fun and less expectation. Stop asking so much of your dog and work on your connection. Keep your communication light and let your dog just be a dog sometimes.

is it a HECK YES? -or- HECK NO?

What is your biggest reward?

Let’s talk about reward systems today.  Food is not the only form of reward we should offer our dogs.  Play, affection, attention, basically anything your dog LOVES, and I mean LOVES LOVES LOVES, should be a part of their reward in every training session.

How do I know what my dog loves the most?

This is a trial and error process, and something you will need to take the time to work out on your own.  My recommendation in figuring this out is start in the safest and most comfortable place for you and your dog.  This could be your home, backyard, garage or wherever you can get one on one time with your dog and not have any distractions. (And when I say distractions, I am not just talking about your dog being distracted; this goes for you as well, turn off your phone!  Your dog will thank me later)

I promise you that you will know immediately as to what your dogs highest reward is.  The biggest issue we all run into is not taking the time to work through all options to get the desired result.  Once you have found something that works, please don’t kill the fun; do not put any discipline to the fun (at-least not just yet).  Take 5 minutes of the beginning of your training session just to give your dog that reward. 

It may look like this: If affection and attention are what get your dog jazzed up- You and your dog sitting on the floor of your garage, snuggling, giggling, wriggling and lots of kisses.  Sounds silly? Probably not, I am quite sure you do this in private most days anyways.  So let loose, give your dog what they need and love, even if it happens to be in the middle of your session, heck, how about three times throughout your training session.  It does not matter how much you give them, it is what they give you back that is the most important.

My last promise to you today is, once you have found your high high high reward, your training sessions will progress in leaps and bounds.


Keep building the bond...



My Dog is My Rock, LLC