How many of you get frustrated with your dog(s) for doing the same annoying behavior every night? For example, running out the front door, not coming when called, jumping up on guests that come over, digging in the trash or eating their poop. I was reminded when I first started training that every moment you spend with your dog is a training moment and we can provide the guidance and supervision needed to set them up for success or give them too much freedom and then constantly yell or get frustrated when they keep making mistakes.
When we moved to our home in Albany last year my dogs had 5 acres to explore. It is not fenced in so I did boundary training with each of them so they would know where they could roam on the property. I have 3 dogs. Sandy is older (14 to be exact) and moves slow so I can keep an eye on her. Ginger is 8 and she is excellent. She likes to explore but checks in with me regularly and comes every time I call her. Sheba is 12 and she is my little trouble maker. When we first moved in, she stayed close and came each time I called her but as she got more comfortable, she started hunting and digging and ignored my calls to come when called. Hopefully this makes you feel better in that even trainers have to go back to the basics with their dogs when needed.
In order to change her behavior, I needed to change my behavior. Rather than let her run around free, I put a leash on her each time I took her outside. I started with a 6-foot leash and then graduated to a 20- foot leash and practiced recalls each time we were outside. After 2 weeks, I gave her freedom again and practiced recalls without the leash and she came right away when I called her. A change in her routine was all she needed to change that behavior.
I know it is frustrating to go outside with your dog in the pouring rain and when it is freezing outside but it is the best way to nip a bad habit in the bud early on. As long as I have dogs and whether we have a fence or not, I will always be outside anytime they are outside. I want to watch what they are doing so I can praise behavior I like and also correct or change any behavior that I don’t.
Dogs’ are incredibly smart and they pick up on good habits and bad habits equally. For example, if you allow them to charge out of the kennel door or front door each time you open it, they will learn it is OK to do that. If you leave them free in the house and they get into the trash and or steal food off the counter, they will become counter surfers and garbage diggers. So, take the opportunity to supervise and manage your dogs’ behavior so they make good choices and immediately change their routine or freedom if they start making mistakes.
The goal with structure is to set your dog up for success. Don’t be afraid to change your personal behavior or routine to help your dog. We would love to hear what changes you want/need to make to help your dog be the best they can be this year?