We’re not talking about chickens right now but, to be honest, it was the first thing that came to my mind.
What I’m talking about here is that obedience and manners are something that, if taught and worked on first, come in so incredibly helpful when you do run into a situation where your dog gets stressed out and starts reacting accordingly with the barking, or growling, or whining, or whatever.
I was in my car when I started thinking about this the other day (weird how you get ideas in the strangest of places). I was thinking about taking Harlow to the dog park early next week. I haven’t taken her recently because she’s been in heat and the last thing I need is a litter of puppies or an intact male getting pissy with me.
Anyway, I know that when we get there, there’s going to be barking. I know that the barking is caused by a smidge of fear as well as excitement. While I know that Harlow is going to be gunning to get to go play with all the other dogs, excessive barking isn’t acceptable. I say EXCESSIVE barking because the other dogs don’t know her. If she’s barking like crazy and losing her shit, that could instigate a little fight, a.k.a. “conversation”, that doesn’t need to happen.
My rule for meeting new dogs (that’s what Harlow is normally reactive to) is that she doesn’t get to bark but she can move forward. This might mean that she gets to pull a little but if she’s not barking, she’s good to go.
Now you might ask, “But Kim, you actually ALLOW your dog to pull you like they’re running toward a raw ribeye?” The answer is yes. I work on one problem at a time. If my dog is barking and pulling strongly toward something (the other dog in this instance) and I don’t want it, I ask myself, “What don’t I like about this situation?”, answer that question, and then fix one thing at a time. Once you have the barking under control, you can work on the pulling.
Imagine trying to work on both things, or more than one thing, at once. That’s just an invitation for irritation, stress, and chaos. I like to think I’m pretty patient but I don’t even have the patience for all nonsense.
Sorry, I got side tracked. By having a good foundation of behaviors and obedience, she knows what the word No means (Her word is actually “Nein”. She speaks a little German), and she knows that when I give her a command, she’s not going to get what she wants until she complies.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a neo nazi, slave-driving dog owner, but I AM a dog owner who doesn’t think it’s ok for my dog to walk all over me. Even if she is super freaking excited.
Also, if your dog is excited/stressed out in a negative way on a new environment, knowing that you’re there and in charge of the situation will also help. You still have to use distance in working in those situations and I would still treat/reward like crazy, but your dog will listen. Your dog will look to you for guidance. It’s not only gratifying to have a very well-mannered dog out in public but also to know that your dog isn’t freaking out. That’s you’ve helped them learn that they DON’T need to freak the F out.
If you have any thoughts on this, I would love to hear them. Comment below and let us know. As always, show your dog some love today, and happy training!