Updated: Sep 10, 2021
Many of us were brought up on TV programmes or movies where the dog was the hero, and he made decisions for himself on how to find the solution to save the world, or his owner, or some other sort of heroic deed. And maybe, after seeing some of these programmes you decided you’d like a dog like that.
A dog who was able to make choices for himself that were thought out and appropriate to the situation.
Wait a minute! Just fantasy you may say – dogs don’t really make decisions for themselves…..do they?
I hear the first hint of your curiosity in that question!
Well, the reality is that dogs are making decisions and learning from those decisions 24/7........ even that wee 8-week-old puppy that you bring home dreaming that she’s going to be Lassie one day; the dream that you are going to have this almost telepathic relationship together where she understands and responds to everything that you need. That you’ll both be ‘loved up’ together and everything in the garden will be rosy, and your emotions will be chilled and loving, and life will be a bed of roses.
Why am I using gardening metaphors? Well……if you’ve got a young dog or puppy and a garden, one of the early discoveries often is that your lovely little fluff ball loves gardening…......…..well, digging to be precise! Usually in your favourite bed of roses (substitute your own plants here!).
What we forget is that roses have thorns!
Our puppies and older dogs are gathering information about the world all the time, and depending on what that information is, they will decide about whether to do what they were doing again, or not.
If the information told them that what they were doing was pleasurable or rewarding in some way, then they are likely to do it again. If it caused them pain or scared them then they are likely to avoid doing it again. So, they make a decision based on the information, and that influences what they will do next time in that situation.
Every creature with a nervous system (and that’s your dog and you, by the way) will try to avoid painful or scary things and move towards rewarding or pleasurable things. That’s just how nervous systems work to help us survive and keep us safe.
Training is just helping your dog to make the decisions that are beneficial to the relationship that you have together.
And that relationship is unique to you and your dog. Some of you will be OK with dogs on the furniture, for others this is a no-no. Some of you may be happy with your dog stealing the Sunday roast off the worktop, for others this is unacceptable. Some of you will be OK with your dog jumping up, for others not so much.
It’s your dog and your rules.
Just remember to tell your dog what your rules are!! Don’t just expect that they will know your rules.
So, an important thing to think about before you get your puppy (or rescue, or even if you want to have a different relationship with the dog that shares your current life) is how do you want your relationship together to look like. Be specific – it’s not enough to say, ‘I want us to live in harmony’. Define this. Define what you want for your relationship with your dog.
Record in some way, either by writing down or doing a voice recording, just how you would like your relationship with your dog to look like.
For example, ‘I want my dog to be able to greet visitors calmly without jumping up, I want her to be able to lie down quietly when I’m preparing food in the kitchen, I want him to be able to walk calmly on the leash beside me when we go for a walk, I want her to be able to come back when I call her when I let her off the leash’, I want him to be able to just be ‘a dog’ at times and have a crazy time for a few minutes.
Being specific about what you want makes it easier to think about what you need to work on in the training that you do with your dog.
Keeping a record of what you are doing with your dog helps you see where things are working, and perhaps where not so much!
it's easy to get discouraged when today's training session didn't go so well. If you record your sessions then this can help you realise that even if today didn't go so well, last week we had a brilliant session!
It's easy to focus on what's not going well and this can lead to becoming disheartened with your training. If you have a record, you can look back on the times when it went OK and even when it went better than that! Even if your session was less successful than you'd want, having a record helps you see the 'bigger picture'. Sometimes noticing what hasn't worked can be as useful as noticing what has!
Training is specific to you and your dog, it’s not a generic ‘one size fits all’.
Think about what you want from your dog and get the training that allows you to do exactly that.
Get in contact because this is what we do! We tailor the training to suit you and your dog.
Mob: 07544 729237