Your dog is part of the family. Are you raising him right?
These are ten tips to help you and your dog weather your relationship.
1. Life Balance
Your dog is part of your family it’s important to manage your time properly. We are all pretty busy especially if we are parents shuttling our children around to their various sports and hobbies. Juggling that with work and a dog, it is essential you schedule time in your calendar for you, your dog, and your family.
Be sure to schedule some interactive time with just you and your dog. Spending quality time with your dog strengthens your relationship with him and can relax a busy person like you!
Do not forget to schedule dog free time too. Your dog needs alone time. Schedule time in everyday where he is left completely alone to rest. Crate training your dog can give him a safe space just his own.
2. Foster Good Self Esteem
Dogs have self esteem? You bet. Dogs are creatures that learn. Mistakes are part of learning. Pet owners need to be careful to let their dog work out problems for themselves. Do not micromanage or help them too much, especially when they are trying to learn something new. Just stand back and give them a few seconds to work it out. If they get confused, just restart the challenge in an easier form or give your dog a hint.
For example, you are trying to teach your dog to sit. Rather than pushing on his hind end, pulling on the leash, or repeating “sit, sit, sit,” stand silent and wait. If he needs help, restart the problem by backing up several steps, say “sit” once, pause a second, then lure his nose up and back with a treat in your hand. Reward!
3. Set Limits
Just like children, dogs thrive on rules and structure. Your dog should have a clear and consistent set of rules that everyone in the house follows with the dog. Post them on the fridge!
My favorite is wait at the door. Teach your dog he may not run through doors to the outside without your permission. Make sure everyone in the house follows this rule – Always! Keep in mind, dogs are very bad at generalizing. This means that you should not let your dog jump on you when wearing workout clothes, but yell at him when he jumps on your work clothes. This will only confuse or frustrate your dog and cause naughty behavior.
4. Management vs Relationship
While it is very important to have limits, not every interaction should be obedience. Too many rules, and you will have a stressed out human and dog! Have rules for things that are important to you and the safety of the dog. Going overboard is no fun for anyone and does not help your relationship. Be thoughtful and selective about the rules you will enforce.
Responsibility goes both ways. It is up to you to learn how to positively train your dog so he understands what you want. Often dogs misbehave because training has not been practiced enough, the instructions were not clear, or you expected too much out of the dog too soon. Rewards such as treats and play are used as communication with the dog throughout the learning process. Since your dog cannot ask you questions, he must learn through trial and error. There will be a lot of rewards given in the beginning. Then it is your dog’s responsibility to learn that he does not get a reward for every single cue (command) given. Once your dog can follow a cue successfully at least 80% of the time, start fading out the rewards.
6. Giving Space
Dogs need space to be a dog. I often see owners getting frustrated with their dog’s during a walk because they are pulling them from one thing to the next. Other owners have dogs walking down the street in a heel position head down and tail still.
We often forget how unnatural it is for a dog to walk by our side down a street for long periods of time. It is much like expecting a three year old to walk through a toy store without pulling you to look at any of the toys on the shelves. Who is the walk for anyway?
After constant jerking on the leash “nagging” the dog just gives up and does what he wants. Or even worse the punishment causes the dog to “shut down” no longer enjoying his time out with his people.
So how is this dilemma solved? Have two walks! One with the dog wearing a harness he can pull in and another with his normal walking flat collar or front attaching harness on. Yes! Dogs can tell the difference! My dog even has a special mushing harness and leash she wears while pulling me on my bike! Once her normal collar is attached to the leash, she walks nicely.
Keep the fun walks long and the training walks short!
You may also teach your dog using the “free shaping” method. This is the fastest way to teach your dog how to solve problems and learn. Even better it wears them out and is lots of fun!
7. Do Things Together
It’s why you got a dog in the first place, right? This tips is the quickest way to turn a frustrated owner into their pet’s biggest fan again.
So, what should you do with your dog?
- play games
- fun walks
- group training classes
- dog sports
- nose work – search work for pet owners
- dock diving
There are so many fun activities you can do with your dog!
8. Model Your Values
Remember, you are your dogs advocate. It is important that you teach people how to properly greet and interact with your dog. Never let anyone get away with being rude to your dog, even if your dog seems to not mind at the time. Rude is leaning over, sticking their hand in the dog’s face to sniff, patting on the head, or hugging your dog. What people learn from you will affect their interaction with other dogs they meet in the future. Walk away if someone does not follow your rules, no exceptions.
Along the same lines, you are an advocate for other dog owners as well. Keep your dog on a leash when out in public and clean up after your pup.
9. Have Age Appropriate Rules
Whether you just brought home a puppy or adopted an adult dog, your rules should fit the dog. It is always best to have strict rules at first, then relax them later after dog no longer makes mistakes. This is especially important when house training a dog. Keep them in a safe confined place like a crate or dog safe room when you cannot watch them 100% of the time they are out. Most accidents happen because a dog slipped out of sight for only a second. Never leave anything out your dog can destroy. Set him up for success. If your dog is difficult to manage while out, consider tethering him to you until he learns the ropes.
10. Love Your Dog
You have this dog for the rest of his life. Sometimes it is hard to enjoy your dog after he misbehaved. Remind yourself to love your dog independent of his behavior. He loves you unconditionally.
“Strive to be the person your dog thinks you are; especially to your dog.”