My dogs are great, but not perfect. At home, they are the best most well behaved dogs. I don’t have to worry about them getting on the furniture, getting into the trash, chewing up my things, or stealing food from the table or counters. Even when I am not home I know I can trust them. But out in public, it’s like they are suddenly possessed. And I know it is mostly my own fault. Why is it that I can train dogs so perfectly at home, but still fall so short? I think I know the answers, but it is just a matter of implementing the following dog training tips:
Frequent and Consistent Dog Training
I have gotten really lazy this winter. I’d rather play with my dogs indoors or put on a jacket to play with them a few minutes outdoors than take them for a walk in the cold weather. This means any gains I have made by the end of fall with leash training are forgotten and I have to practically start all over again in the spring.
Socialization as an Ongoing Process
This same logic about frequency and consistency applies to how my dogs behave around other dogs. Since they haven’t been around other dogs much this winter, their behavior has gotten out of control again. In the fall, I took Pierson downtown once a week so I could help Dogtoberfest sell calendars to raise money for the Lawrence Humane Society. This was outdoors so we saw a lot of people and quite a few dogs. Pierson was naughty at times, but by the final week he was doing great. When winter came, I didn’t keep it up. Now, on those rare times in the winter when we do go for a walk, he goes absolutely nuts when he sees another dog. Maya does it too, although her reason is because she is so excited, not because she is being aggressive. If I had been exposing Maya and Pierson to other dogs more often over winter, would they be acting this way? Probably not.
Don’t Let the Dogs Train Me
I just realized that Pierson has me trained. I don’t like my dogs to disturb my neighbors so if they start barking when they are outside, I make them come back inside. Yesterday, Pierson decided to start barking. It sounded like he was barking at something, generally at the squirrel that lives next door or at a person walking by the house. But when I went to go get him, he was sitting by the back door. Booger. He was barking at me to let him in!
This is an at home example, but does it apply to public situations too? Did I somehow train the dogs to pull on the leash when we go for a walk? If the dogs pull me on a walk, I stop and wait for them to stop pulling before moving on. That is how I am supposed to do it, anyway. But half the time, I don’t want to have to stop. After all, the walking is an exercise for me too. I want to get my heart rate up for cardio and so I can warm up in the cold weather, but I can’t do that if I have to stop every time Maya or Pierson pulls on the leash. I am just going to have to decide which is more important – leash training or cardio exercise. (If I stick with the dog training, eventually I can have it both ways.)
So there you have it. I am great at giving advice on how to train dogs, but not very good at taking my own advice. I know what to do, but have gotten lazy about doing it. And now I am paying the price. Winter is almost over so no more excuses. It’s time to get off my behind and put my words into practice!
What about you? Do your dogs have behavior problems that you know certain dog training tips can fix, but you just haven’t done them yet? I’m sure I’m not the only one so fess up!
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