We often love our dogs so much we resist scolding them when they act out. Especially when they look at us with those sweet brown eyes or are just trying to show us affection. But we all know it’s important to set the rules for even the best behaved dogs.
Some behaviors make us feel good, like when your dog jumps up on the couch to be with you. Or when you dog “over greets” you at the front door when you get home from work. I mean it’s really hard to reprimand your pet when they are just trying to show you how much they love you.
You may think it’s cute how your dog jumps up & looks out the window to see what’s going on. But those nails will eventually leave large scratches in your woodwork. Sanding and re-painting the windowsills isn’t so fun when you’re doing it for the 3rd time.
And reprimanding your new puppy can be one of the hardest tasks a new dog owner will face. However, we do need to set some boundaries in our for both our dogs and us to co-exist happily. And that sweet puppy behavior is sometimes not so sweet after they grow up.
It’s up to every dog owner to lay down the ground rules so when was once really cute, doesn’t become a problematic behavior. Here are the first 3 principals to work on when trying to teach your dog a little self control.
1. Identify what it is that the dog wants: that’s the reward. Depending on the situation, the dog may want to go out, your attention, food, a toy or playtime with another dog.
2. Whatever the dog does immediately before getting what he/she wants will be rewarded and therefore repeated.
If the dog pushes her way out of the door and manages to get out, she’ll learn that pushing her way out gets her what she wants. If jumping up to greet us gets Django’s attention (even when we’re yelling or pushing him off), he’ll do it again next time.
The key here is to patiently wait for an alternative behavior, one that we want the dog to repeat. A typical example is hooking the leash to the dog’s collar before going out for a walk. Most dogs get very excited and start jumping up as soon as we grab the leash. Dogs can’t jump forever and if we just stand there and wait, they will calm down.
We can also ask the dog to sit and only approach him with the leash when he’s sitting down. If he gets up (which he will at first), we simply take the leash away and wait for him to sit again. It doesn’t take much for the dog to learn that only sitting calmly will get the leash on!
3. Practice patience! Staying calm and composed is critical. Frustration and irritation will only contribute to the dog’s excitability and make it harder for him to calm down. We can’t ask the dog to slow down if we’re in a rush for results. Be prepared to spend the time that it takes for the dog to calm down.
For more ways to teach your dog a little impulse control, see the original article on SmartAnimalTraining.com.
And don’t forget to share with anyone who is struggling to tame the wild beast inside their dog!