As a dog trainer, I get a lot of phone calls about dogs jumping up, bolting out the door, not coming back when called, etc. On a number of training groups, the first thing a trainer tells a client is, well don’t let them do that.” I appreciate that advice, but I think as an owner you need to know HOW to make that happen.
I think the first mistake a lot of dog owners make is giving their dog too much freedom. Giving a dog rules, structure and consequences doesn’t make you a mean owner. It actually provides your dog with the habits they need to live successfully with you.
I recommend keeping a leash on your puppy or dog in the house and yard as often as you can for the first few months. Yes, I said months. Habits take 90 days to form. That is 3 months. That way you can assist with potty training when not in a crate, not coming back when called outside, not jumping up on people when they come in the house, not getting into the trash-you see my point. Yes, this does take work on the part of the owner BUT this is a 2-way relationship. Your dog NEEDS to see YOU putting in the effort as well. I believe crates are also important. When you cannot supervise your pet 100% of the time, they should be in a crate for their safety. I like to crate dogs when I am home and cannot watch them and when I am gone.
This means that yes, you will need to put on a coat, gloves, hat, umbrella, etc and go outside with your dog each time they go out. Be prepared to make some changes to your routine in order to enjoy your dog. The more work and effort you put into training them from the beginning, the more you will enjoy them and have less work to do later on. Just like building a house-you need to start with a strong foundation.
The second mistake many dog owners make is loving their dog too much. I love my dogs, but I also make sure I develop a healthy relationship with them. If I give my dogs everything, they want all the time (petting, treats, toys, attention, affection, etc), they are going to turn into neurotic little devils (trust me on this)!
It is important to establish boundaries with your dog at home. Limit your petting, affection and talking-Yes, I said talking. I know some of you talk to your dogs’ non-stop when you are home. Help your pet earn those rewards with some work and effort on their part. Many people call it tough love! I am a firm believer in tough love! Your dog cannot be your psychiatrist, counselor, friend or emotional outlet. They need to be a dog. You need to find a professional to help with those other needs you have.
Silence is golden! It is one of my favorite phrases. In many classes, I will recommend going a day or two without talking to your dog at all. You can provide for all their needs and never say a word to them. You will see just how valuable body language can be in helping you communicate with your dog.
The third mistake people make is not holding their dog accountable. The leash can help with this but many times if you don’t enforce the command when you give it and there is no consequence for their behavior, nothing will change. Remember the phrase, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing every day and expecting a different result”. Waiting your puppy to “grow” out of that bad habit will not work either. If you wait too long, then you just have a large dog doing the exact same things on a larger scale.
Take the time to sit down and think of the behaviors you want to work on with your dog and then rather than always correcting, think of ways you can HELP them be successful. Think of what you want them to do and be proactive in their training. Feel free to contact us and we can help you turn those goals into reality!