So you say you want to have a good dog?
At least that is what I hear when I meet people for an evaluation for training.
I ask, “So what is it that brought you in, what is it you want from your dog?”
The answer is typically: “I just want him to be good.”
Most everyone wants a dog that is *good*. The challenge however, is defining what is *good*.
For the majority of pet owners *good* seem to be a dog that *doesn’t*.
*Doesn’t* as in; doesn’t jump on people, doesn’t bark at everyone that passes the front window, doesn’t chew up the furniture, doesn’t poop or pee in the house, doesn’t pull on leash…the list of “does nots”is long.
Fortunately, the list is usually pretty easy to fix. Particularly when we flip our thinking around and focus on *does* rather than *does not*. This slight adjustment in our thinking is hugely significant in terms of our success in fixing those dog behavior problems.
You might be questioning; “what do you mean Robin? He does jump on people and I want him to stop.”
How about we do a little role playing Q and A to see if I can help you make sense of this concept.
You: Robin, my dog jumps on people and I want him to stop, can you help?
Me: Sure, what do you want him to do instead?
You: (blank look, as in; duh Robin!) well, I just want him to stop jumping, he gets so excited to see everyone when they come to our house and he is just all over them. After 5 minutes he is fine, but I need him to stop that jumping.
Me: Ok, but what would you like him to do instead of the jumping on people when they come through your door?
You: I don’t care as long as he doesn’t jump. He just needs to stop jumping, his nails hurt and my mother is elderly and I’m afraid he will trip her.
Me: Ok, but we still need to decide what you want him to do instead. I have a couple ideas, how about this; we teach him to go to his bed and stay there when people come to the door. Then when he is calmer after that 5 minutes we can give him permission to say hello and we’ll teach him he has to keep four paws on the floor in order to get any attention and petting. How about that?
You: Cool, that would be great!
Successful dog training is basically a matter of using the “old switcheroo” We swap out behavior we don’t like for behavior we do like.
The Switcheroo List looks something like this:
Mom does not want dog to:
Jump on people
Bark at passers by
Chew up furniture
Pull on leash
Poop or pee in house
Bolt out the door
So instead mom will teach the dog to:
Sit when meeting people
Watch passers by quietly
Chew on his own toys
Walk nicely next to the person holding the leash
Wait for permission to go out the door
Teaching the dog alternative behaviors to the ones that you find annoying is the fastest path to success we know of. It will give you a dog you can be proud of when company comes over and one that can be more fully integrated into your life. And having a dog that can really be a part of your lifestyle is a very cool thing!
Now begin to fill in the blanks for the other doggy behaviors you find annoying and then contact us if you need help teaching the dog the to do alternatives. 🙂