January 31 2015
Too often, we do not realize what we are teaching our dogs through body language and vocal commands. For instance, when you put your shoes on first thing in the morning, he may know you are going outside for a walk. When you get his food bowl out from the kitchen cupboard, you may be signaling him it is dinnertime. Dogs closely observe our routines and begin to develop behavior patterns of their own based on our repetition.
Sometimes this is good. However, if you get out his food bowl and then become distracted, does he start barking excessively? If you get up in the morning, put on your shoes and then get a phone call, does he yip at the door? You may not mind these behaviors once in a while, but you don’t want to encourage problem or unwanted behaviors.
Also, think about the mixed signals we send to our dogs. If you love gardening, you’re out in the back yard digging - pulling weeds and digging holes for plants -- what do you suppose he’s learning to do? To try some gardening of his own, of course. Or you discipline your dog for begging for food at the dinner table, while unbeknownst to you; your son is slipping him the vegetables under the table.
Most dogs don’t want to be in charge, because leadership can feel like too much responsibility. However, sometimes without meaning to, we often give our dogs a feeling of too much authority, and that can be troubling for both owners and dogs. . Dogs crave good leadership and if they don’t get it from their owner, they will take charge by manipulating your behavior. Or if you’re inconsistent, they will take advantage of it. That’s why you have to establish yourself as the “top dog”, and why so many dogs get out of control with barking, jumping or aggression.
That’s why BarkBusters believes so strongly in using consistent vocal commands and body language to get your dog to behave appropriately. Using training treats, shock collars, or punishment often produces short term results instead of the long term behavioral changes you are trying to achieve.
When you use your voice, your dog needs to know what you are trying to accomplish by your tone: are you disciplining him or trying to have fun? You need to learn how to “talk” to your dog. Yelling and screaming are not effective. Lead by example, literally. Establish your leadership by always leading your dog—up and down stairs, through doorways, and especially on walks. Remember, the leader always leads.
What have you taught your dog inadvertently? What’s he learning today? When you recognize his and your patterns of behavior and use those to teach him desirable actions instead, you’ll be on your way to a happier dog—and a happier family.