July 16, 2014

Part 4 of our 5 part series on Confidence Building for your dog

July 13, 2014

Training your dog the right way

I am often asked why dogs listen better to me than they do their owners. There is no easy explanation because it is usually different for each dog/owner. As I always say, you must be calm and assertive, not nervous and submissive.

It’s very important to keep in mind, if you’re teaching your dog a new command, strengthening an existing exercise, or correcting unwanted behavior, you want (and need) your energy and presence to be smooth, calm, relaxed and matter of fact. Think of it this way, you’re attempting to share information with your dog with the goal being your dog learns something and uses that new information to make better future choices. Your dog is attempting to make sense of this new information as best he can. This new information – be it a correction or a new behavior (like down or place) is exactly that – information. The more this new information you’re attempting to share has to complete with personal distractions coming from you – things like frustration, body tension, anxiety, jerky movements, hyper movements, intense/annoyed verbal tone, inconsistent cues, unintentional cues etc, the harder and more stressful it is for your dog to make sense of the new information, process it, and put it into action.

So your job is to slow down, calm down, become hyper aware of ALL your movements and signals (you’re probably not aware of half of the other info you’re sharing with your dog!), and ensure that the information you DO want to share is being presented clearly and with the least amount of unintended human confusion and conflict. Do your best to ensure you’re making it easier to learn, not harder. If you get frustrated you need to stop and take a break. You do not want that frustration transferring to your dog – it will cause your dog to get anxious, out of control and possibly fearful.