Sugar, Isabelle and Tommy want to wish everyone a Happy Fourth of July!
July is the month we celebrate our country’s Independence Day. This day that represents so much, did not come easily and it certainly wasn’t handed to us on a silver platter. We sacrificed to win it and still work to maintain it.
Independence is a fragile thing. It must be respected and comes with the price of certain boundaries and limitations. The same holds true for your dog’s independence. His or her ability to run at liberty, attend public events and enjoy life outside of your yard is earned by disciplined effort and the establishment of rules that teach him to self-govern.
And you are the one who has to be the ultimate governing body that teaches him what his code of conduct must be
What is your dogs code of conduct? Let’s consider it your list of none negotiables. To give you an idea of what I mean, let me share some of the non-negotiable rules on the list for my four dogs:
Coming when called; My dog’s can run at liberty, but they must come back when I call them.
Bolting out the door is not an option at my home. An open door is not an invitation to go for a neighborhood tour.
Stealing food from humans or off the counter is out.
And fighting within the pack is out of the question.
Step one in helping your dog earn her independence is deciding what those non-negotiables are. Once you create your list, then it is time to devise a strategy for achieving those goals. Implementing a strategy will be greatly enhanced by working with a professional trainer who can help you achieve things in a timely fashion. For now, let me share a few simple tips to get you started:
Teach your dog to Wait.
Waiting is a skill that few dogs understand but all would benefit from. Waiting for permission to go out the door, waiting for food rather than having a smorgasbord available all the time, and waiting for affection that comes when you decide rather than every time that wet nose nudges you. Waiting teaches patience and to yield to whomever is in charge.
Make your dog earn his paycheck.
That paycheck can be food, treats, play or affection. Requiring your dog to do something in the form of obedience commands or a trick before doling out the paychecks helps your dog to understand that all good things are dispensed through his or her listening to you.
Do not give a command you are unwilling or unable to follow through on.
Training your dog to listen to you in the midst of distraction is something that takes practice. Too often people give a command when there is no reasonable way that the dog is going to obey. This only sets us up for frustration and for the dog to learn that he or she really doesn’t have to obey. Rather than getting caught in this cycle, keep a leash or long line on your dog when you know you may be in a situation that is challenging or have little control.
With a little time and consistency your dog will also learn to self govern. This gives you both a great deal of freedom and soon your dog will be a welcome guest at those picnics, barbecues, and public events.