(cartoon/ photo from The Oatmeal)
THE BEST dog training in Northern New Jersey with Greg Kleva and Bark Busters Home dog training!
You might not believe me if I told you that your adorable, fluffy best friend – your favorite sidekick who provides you with unconditional love and affection – is actually a manipulative little bugger! At Bark Busters Home Dog Training of Northern New Jersey, we teach our clients that (as they have probably already experienced!) dogs are very good people trainers. Doesn’t your dog have a knack for getting you to pet or rub her belly when she requests it, entice you in to a game of ‘chase’, or to play throw the ball/ fetch, or tug-o’-war, to let him out, to let him in, to put water in his bowl, or to let you know when it’s feeding time or time to wake up or time to go for a walk? How do we resist…right?!? “Look at how smart my dog is, she’s sitting and staring at the cabinet where I keep her treats…isn’t she brilliant (owner jumps up to get her dog a treat)?”. Maybe she’s brilliant…but she’s also training you…making sure you’re still ‘following her rules’. So, if from your dog’s perspective, you’re following HER rules…if SHE is the decision maker in the relationship…if you jump when she tells you to jump (“pet me…play with me…pay attention to me”), it should be no surprise that your dog may be confused about her role in the relationship. As a result she may question why SHE should be listening to you, when you’ve made it very clear that YOU listen to HER. Confusion sets in because of how we interact with our dogs all day long, and bad behavior, lack of obedience, and/or anxiety ensues as a result.
THIS is at the heart of clearly defining roles in your relationship with your dog and the key to removing stress from your relationship and having a well behaved dog – who will still love you unconditionally!
“Wait, WHAT?!?!? So I can’t pet my dog or rub her belly when she comes to me…I can’t play with her?” It’s not so much that you can’t, but if you do you may confuse your dog about who the decision maker is in the relationship. You absolutely should give your dog tons of pets, tons of belly rubs, tons of love and affection and play…heck, even let the dog jump up on the couch or in bed with you. The key is that these things should happen ON YOUR TERMS…when you invite the dog over or when you initiate, rather than when the dog requests or demands it. This is a hard concept for us humans…it’s counterintuitive. While easy in theory, it’s not always simple to put into practice because, well, we LOVE dogs!
Dogs address attention seeking behavior in a couple of different ways. One dog may shun or ignore the other’s requests for attention – we refer to this as Passive Influence. Or, one dog may ‘correct’ the other’s request for attention…that may include assertive body language, a threatening growl, or an escalation including snapping teeth – a negative consequence for approaching uninvited. In either case, respect is established because the more assertive dog reacted in a dog way…with an, “I’m not going to let you tell me what to do” attitude. It’s not emotional…One dog doesn’t think, “Oh, she doesn’t love me” or “she’s mean”. The dogs may still be very fond of one another, running around playing, or snuggling up together 5 minutes later. But, it will be on the assertive dog’s terms. And respect will be established with each dog understanding their place in the relationship – without any hard feelings! When you appeal to dog psychology by consistently practicing what dogs know, on dog terms rather than on human terms, you will create better understanding between you and your dog and your relationship will flourish!