HOW CONFUSION ARISES

Look at life from your dog’s point of view…

In nature, your dog is from a pack.  He has now been transferred from the canine pack and been placed in his human pack.  The owners expect him to instantly understand his new situation.  He doesn’t, of course, because dogs don’t understand the human world.
The owners use their own language and logic to convey their requirements and are surprised when the dog fails to understand what they want the dog to do.  They persuade, coerce, perhaps even force the dog to comply.  Owners fail to realise that their dog does not think in the same way as they do.  They provide a message which the dog often then interprets in a totally different way to that intended by the owner.  Your dog is now confused …

HOW YOUR DOG SEES YOUR ‘PACK’

After their physical needs have been met, THE most important priority for dogs is to feel safe.  Your dog comes from a natural structure where the decision-makers provide food, make the decisions and are the breeding pair.  The other members will act co-operatively for the greater good of the pack – to help make sure it survives and prospers.
In this respect, a natural canine pack is very similar in structure to a human family, where the parents provide direction in a suitable environment and the older children assist with the younger ones or maybe have chores to do to help out.
Dogs in human packs need to see their owners as competent decision-makers in order to feel safe.  Once that relationship is established, the dog will co-operate with its owners for the greater good of the pack, just as he would in nature.

THE PROBLEM …

If the owners unwittingly manage to convey the message that the dog is the decision maker, the dog will attempt to ensure the pack survives by undertaking the role as he sees fit in a world that he doesn’t understand.  This is the root cause of the dog’s behaviour.
The result?  At best, the dog is confused as to what the owners expect.
At worst?  Aggression, biting, stress, delinquency!
The dog’s behaviour can be completely mystifying to the owner.  Why is my dog barking all the time?  Why is he biting me?  Why does he destroy the kitchen when I go out?  Why does he bark and lunge at other dogs?
Because he truly believes it is his job to do these things!

… AND THE SOLUTION

Your dog needs clear signals given in a way that he can understand so that he comprehends his place in the pack and what is expected of him.  He needs to understand the behaviour that is acceptable.  He needs to understand that the owners make the decisions and that they don’t need any help from the dog in order to carry out that role.

EFFECTIVE TRAINING TECHNIQUES

The basic training principle when interacting with dogs is to praise and reward the behaviour you wish to encourage and not to give any attention to any undesired behaviour – but don’t just ignore it, you need to do something about it, you need to show him that the behaviour is unnecessary.
Remain calm and relaxed at all times and be consistent when applying your training.  Don’t use different words for a particular behaviour.  It’s not your dog’s fault if he doesn’t understand what you want.  Identify where you are going wrong and change the way you are training him.  Be enthusiastic when your dog gets it right.  Make his tail wag.  Remember to have fun!

TRAINING IN PRACTICE – PULLING ON THE LEAD

Pulling on the lead is a very common dog behaviour problem.  Very often pulling starts when the dog realises that when he pulls, the owner follows.  The dog needs to understand that when you take him for a walk, he is going with you on your walk, not the other way round!

In this YouTube clip, Dog Guardian Nigel Reed demonstrates how to get your dog to walk nicely on a loose lead.  His clear and relaxed presentation style shows you how to progress through each stage – all in under 10 minutes…