A Thought for the New Year

Training is happening ALL the time!  Yes, even if you’re not scheduling official training sessions your dog is still watching you to figure out how to get what s/he wants and needs.  Dogs train themselves, if we don’t have the time!  They’re geniuses at “working the system!” And be warned!  If we don’t find time to shape our dog’s behavior — s/he will shape ours!  Dog barks when we’re on the phone — we give it a biscuit to shut it up.  Dog wiggles and pushes right up to the crack in the door, and we get out of the way, stretching to reach the handle to open it.  Dog looks up with big, sad eyes as we eat dinner, — we sneak him a bite off our plate.  Just who is training whom here?

The trick in the training is integrating it into your real life.  Ask the dog to Sit at feeding time — the reward being the food bowl hitting the ground!  Ask for a Down before going Inside/Outside.  You get the idea!  It works with anything your dog really wants:  toys, treats, petting, attention, lap-time!  The important thing to remember is if the dog DOESN’T give you the behavior you asked for, s/he doesn’t get the “good thing!”  Not until s/he does what you ask!

At first, the dog will try to keep the status quo and it may take a little longer to accomplish some everyday things.  Remember, you’re in charge!  If the dog won’t Sit for her supper and you don’t have 10 minutes to wait until she does — then she doesn’t get it!  (It won’t hurt a dog to miss a meal, and I bet she Sits the next time!)  Don’t let the “cost” of a few extra seconds make you into your dog’s “well-trained” servant.  Your dog will love you even more if you’re her trainer!

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