As I was looking over the last blog post form last week, I realized that I wasn’t leaving everything out there. I had hit publish and within an hour, I had already thought of something else to add to the list.
So without further delay, here are the additional things I wanted to add to the list:
1. How stressed out is your dog? When you’re working with your dog in an unknown area, or an area where a stressor to your dog is located, your dog could possibly freak out.
They might not but the likelihood is high. It could be excitement, mixed with a little bit of fear, or the other way around.
When, and if, that happens, you just need to move slowly and don’t expect too much too soon. Your dog needs to acclimate themselves and you asking for a sit, then a stay, then a perfect heel or walk or whatever you’ve named it isn’t going to go anywhere productive.
Have you ever been to China? Or Australia? Or maybe even Germany with the magnificent castles, history, and AMAZING food? (You can’t tell what’s on my bucket list can you?) Now imagine you had to be the posterchild for your family even though you’re in a place that’s you’re so excited about you could pee your pants. Or maybe you’re freaking out bc you’re scared to death of spiders and you’re in an Amazon terrarium with several species in there, hidden among the leaves.
That’s what it’s like for our pups. Maybe you know their emotions from their body language, maybe you don’t, but you KNOW you’re freaking the $%*! OUT!
You’ll know that your dog is WAAAAYYYYYYYY too involved in the surrounding area by:
- Not taking a treat
- Taking a treat but taking it, not really looking at you, then looking right back to the environment. Kinda like, “Thanks but I got other stuff going on. Go away.”
- Acting like they don’t even know you’re there
- Possibly whining or a higher pitch bark
- Pacing back and forth
You get the idea.
If that’s the situation you find yourself in, just take a moment, let your dog figure out they’re not going to explode with excitement or fear, and let them relax.
2. Are you timing your rewards/treats correctly? This one is a simple one. If you’re not giving the rewards in a timely manner, the dog could misinterpret the correct behavior that you’re trying to pin point.
Granted, this probably won’t happen in you’re working on a sit or a down, but it’s you’re working on a Stay behavior, it makes sense that you reward when your dog when then behavior has been completed, not when the behavior is only half completed.
When adding distance to the behavior, you would mark, and reward, the completion of the behavior and give the reward when you’ve moved back in front of your dog, not when you’re seven feet away and you STILL want your dog to maintain stationary.
3. Are you treating just to treat? Have you ever gotten a, “You did a great job today. I just wanted you to know that.”, or maybe a, “Your work made all the difference today and I really want to thank you for doing a good job”?
Doesn’t it feel good? Just to know you did a good job? That’s a random positive reinforcement right there, and it goes a long way. It’s the same with our dogs. That’s not to say that you have to carry around a bag of treats for the remainder of your pups life but it’s nice to be reminded that they’re doing a good job.
4. For the unwanted behaviors, where is your dog learning them?I’m a big advocate of socializing your dog but it’s up to us to make sure that the dogs that our pup is hanging out with aren’t passing on any unwanted behaviors.
In many ways, dogs are very similar to children and this one is no different. How many of you have sent your children to school and have them come home to say something that made your head snap around? Or maybe they came home and were a little mean to their brothers or sisters or maybe even you?
They learned it somewhere and it’s important to try not to put your dig in a situation where they actively learn to be an A-hole.
Another thing to take into consideration is if you adopt your dog from a shelter. You have no idea what their background is. You have no idea what they were exposed to. You have no idea what their living conditions were like. It’s kind of like a trial by fire. You won’t know what will cause them to freak out until you actually come across it.
When that happens, it’s important to keep in mind that our dogs love us and want to make us happy. They’re not trying to embarrass or anger us by throwing their butts in the air, barking like crazy. They’re reacting to something in the only way they know how. It’s our job to work with them and help them get through it, not blame them for it.
I hope everyone has been able to pull some more good information from this post.
Remember, it’s not about finishing the race first, but putting one foot in front of each other. If your dog isn’t comfortable with what you’re asking form them, you’re never going to get to where you want you and your dog to be.
Let me know if you thought I left something out of the last two posts. If you havne’t read the post from last week, you can check it out HERE. The list on the other post has A LOT more included. Go check it out!
As always, let me know if there’s anything that you want me to talk about or any specific issues you might be having.
Show your dog some love today, and Happy Training!