7 Things About Training Your Dog Wants You to Know
If only our canine companions could talk! Here are 7 things we imagine they would tell you about training and behaviour!
1. A wagging tail doesn't always mean they're happy:
Surprised?! Dog's may wag their tail in many different situations, including when they are happy, but they also wag their tail when they are uncomfortable, over-stimulated, excited, and as a result of over arousal or aggression. A tail carried high above the back, wagging quickly may indicate over arousal; like when chasing a squirrel or waiting for you to throw the ball. A slow wagging tail accompanied by a low, stiff posture and hard-staring eyes can mean the dog is ready to act aggressively!
2. There is no such thing as a bad dog:
While our dog may act in ways that we consider bad or undesirable, she/he is just behaving like a dog! Dog's will only repeat behaviours that work - this means they either get rewarded, or are kept safe by acting that way. Example: your dog may jump up on you when they are excited to see you, and no matter how many times you say "no!" or push them off, they still do it every time! This is because your dog is jumping for your attention, and even if you push them off, or scold them, they still get it. Any attention is good enough for them! Try ignoring your dog and only giving them attention when they settle down, in many cases it only takes a few days before your dog's jumping is completely eliminated.
3. It isn't bad to allow your dog on the bed:
Many owners enjoy having their dog sleep on their bed, or letting their dog up for occasional cuddle time. Good news - this does not make your dog dominant or aggressive! For your comfort, we recommend teaching your dog to ask nicely to come up (sit or perform another trick} and to leave when you ask. This ensures your dog is polite about your space, and that their is enough leg room when you need it!
4. They aren't stubborn:
What appears to be a purposeful lack of compliance is usually a lack of understanding! Just because your dog behaves well at home, or in your backyard, doesn't mean they have the same skill level at the dog park, vet clinic, or a friends house! Real-world distractions play a huge factor in your dog's ability to focus. Ensure you train your dog in many different environments, and with many different distractions so that they learn to behave expertly in all situations. If you find your dog seemly ignores your cues even in low distraction environments, it may be a result of luring or bribing the dog to respond correctly, rather than rewarding behaviour after they respond.
5: Training is for life:
While training and socializing a puppy sets them up for success throughout their adult life, no dog is too old, or too well behaved to learn more! Whether a complicated obedience maneuver, agility, therapy dog work, an adorable trick, or a refresher course, a dog's education should be ongoing!
6: Know your dog:
Purebred and mixed breed dogs all have their own individual personalities, but their breed does play a part in how they respond in different situations. Example: A german shepherd is a working breed originally used for herding. Years of selective breeding for job specific traits results in a pet that has excellent spacial awareness, and intense focus. When under-exercised or lacking training, they can become reactive and anxious more quickly than dog's who do not have the same traits. A small mixed breed 'lap-dog' type is likely motivated by companionship and attention more than almost anything else. This could make the puppy difficult to house train, if they aren't receptive to being rewarded for going outside rather than in. Researching your dog's breeds will help you train them successfully!
7: Their eyesight isn't great:
Compared to their sense of smell, that is! The part of the brain that controls smell is 40 times larger than that of a humans! Sniffing is an excellent way to let them explore the world around them, and can reduce reactivity when on walks. A dog's eyesight is good at sensing moving objects, so they tend to respond to fast, prey-like objects. Training your dog to focus in all environments, and allowing them sufficient sniffing time makes sure your walks are more enjoyable for both of you!
If you are experiencing serious behaviour concerns that put you in danger or you can't decode, refer to a professional for guidance.