Posts Tagged ‘training tips’

My Dogs Are Perfect, I’m Not

October 5, 2013

Me Maya and Pierson

You may have some misconceptions about my dogs. I bet you think they are perfect and can do no wrong. That’s because most of what you see on my blog are photos of them doing cute or fun things or articles on training tips or health tips. I generally don’t tell you the bad stuff. Why is that? Two reasons. Firstly, my dogs bring me such an enormous joy that I don’t really think about their imperfections. Secondly, I’m a bit embarrassed that I don’t have my dogs completely well-trained. Well, today you are going to get to peek into the real Dawn, Maya, and Pierson.

For the most part, I think many of Maya and Pierson’s imperfections are my own fault. They are dogs and do some doggy things that many in society don’t think are appropriate. But it is up to me to try to work through and redirect their most annoying behaviors. And here they are:

Barking

Pierson barks at almost every little thing. Since he is mostly indoors and it doesn’t really bother anyone but those inside the house, his barking isn’t a big deal. In fact, we’ve gotten really good at tuning him out. But what about when he is outside? As a responsible dog owner, I should really be working with him more on not barking so much. Believe it or not, teaching him to bark on command helped a little with teaching him not to bark on command.

Jumping on People

Even after six years, Maya is really bad about trying to jump on people. I’ve trained her not to jump on me or my husband, but it has been difficult teaching her not to jump on others. She gets so excited that it is difficult to control her when she is in this state. I tend to blame her behavior on the fact that she is an excitable dog, but truthfully her behavior is my fault. When she was younger, I did not actively seek anyone to help me teach her not to jump on them. Sure, I took the opportunity when the chance arose, but there was no consistency. Lately, I’ve been trying to amend that.

Pull No More dog harness

This dog harness / leash helps reduce Maya’s ability to pull.

Walking on a Leash

This is by far my biggest downfall. I have done a number of posts about it and have been great about giving tips. But I haven’t been so good at following my own advice. When we go for a walk, I just want to walk. I don’t want to have to stop and correct. There are some days when I focus on the training, but I don’t follow through on every walk or even every other walk. I think I am only about 20% consistent. This has helped. Maya and Pierson are not as bad as they used to be. But if I would only be consistent, they could be much better.

I have genuinely tried the Gentle Leader on Maya. I followed their instructions and advice very consistently every day for a month. All to no avail. I should try again, but probably won’t.

Pierson Group Walk Photo

Look how much progress Pierson has made with his leash reactive behavior.

Leash Reactive Behavior

Now this one I have been fairly consistent with on with Pierson. And I am so proud of how far he has progressed. The part where I may fall short is when winter comes. We won’t see as many dogs on our walks when the weather gets cold.

Maya is leash reactive too, but in a different way. Where Pierson barks because he hates other dogs, Maya barks because she is excited about other dogs. She does very well in public settings, such as the recent Responsible Pet Owner’s Day event and the Mutt Mixer event. But on walks, she does not do so well. I’m not quite sure how to handle her behavior. The methods that have been doing wonders with Pierson are not working on her. The only things I have not tried out is hiring a professional dog trainer or using an electronic collar, and I don’t want to do either. I can’t afford the first one and I don’t want to resort to the second one.

So there you have it. Maya and Pierson are not perfect because I am not perfect at training them. I think I’ve done a pretty darned good job with what I have done. And I believe they are mostly very good dogs. But I have fallen short on being consistent. It is my fault they are not perfect by society standards. But they are perfect to me. And I love them just the way they are, barking, pulling, jumping, and all (although it would be nice if I would train them to stop doing those things).

Do you have any shortcomings when it comes to training your dog? Come on, admit it. I won’t tell on you if you don’t tell on me. πŸ˜‰

Following My Own Dog Training Tips?

March 23, 2013

Pull No More dog harness

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.

Pierson's Real Dog Training Tips

My dog Pierson talks about how dog training really works. (Pin me!)

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! πŸ˜‰

My dog Maya as an angel and devil

I should change this to read, Angel at Home; Devil in Public. (Pin me!)

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