How do I deal with these furry critters?

By Lance Gardner (Lance) on April 14, 2010

Dogs are domesticated wolves, and as such follow basic wolf instincts, regardless of size and type of dog. Dogs identify with a “pack” and need an established leader to follow. It is necessary to establish and maintain the identity of the people around the dog as their leader. If the people around the dog are not in charge, then the dog will be. This can rapidly become a dangerous situation, depending upon the individual dog.

Dogs are domesticated wolves, and as such follow basic wolf instincts, regardless of size and type of dog. All dogs identify with a “pack”, need an established leader to follow, and will operate under the basic principle of "Lead, follow, or get out of the way". As such, it is necessary to establish and maintain the identity of the people around the dog as their leader, with your buddy being subordinate to all members of the family.

If the people around the dog are not in charge, then the dog will be; this can rapidly become a dangerous situation, depending upon the individual dog. Especially, please do not take a chance with a young child, thinking your dog will 'fit in and understand his role' without proper care and training. Lassie and Disney have probably sent more dogs to their doom in a shelter than anyone would care to realize, simply because the people that got the family pet did not realize the dogs in these shows are highly trained, well beyond average dog intelligence and capabilities, many times with duplicates, and they would need to do the same intensive training to have their family pet come even close to what they see. Dog bites can be serious, and happen all the time, even with the owners. And it takes much less than that for some people to get rid of their companions, after the poor dog fails to live up to unrealistic expectations.

Therefore most training is actually teaching those responsible for the dog the basics of this aspect of dog “logic”, as well as other important aspects of basic dog behavior. Humane methods and training skills that communicate in a way the dog is able to understand should be stressed. This will enable the owners to continue to maintain and improve on the dog’s abilities, the understanding of their dog, and the dog/person relationship. So this means the most important aspect of dog training is training the people involved with their dogs, so those responsible for their pets care can then train the dogs themselves.

Another aspect of dog training to remember is to reward good behavior with praise, not treats, and make unwanted behavior uncomfortable. Just like a child, all dogs are different, and a combination of both positive and negative reinforcement that works for the individual dog will be needed. This does not mean you need to hit your dog, but instead make it seem that what the dog is doing is not fun for the dog. For an example, if a dog jumps on you, grab the front feet and hold them until the dog is very uncomfortable and pulling to get away. After a few times of this, they will learn that jumping up to get closer to your face, which is typically their main motivation, will not work well for them and they will stop doing it.

I do not like treats because I have seen too many dogs that respond to the treat instead of the person or situation. Some dogs may do OK with it, but why take a chance? I had a dog that was trained to do tricks for treats – if he did not see the treat, he would not do the trick. That may be OK for tricks, but when your buddy is charging across the road, you want him to come back because you called him, not because you maybe have a treat in your pocket. I have also had dogs that are so obsessed with food that they almost mechanically respond to commands, as opposed to learning what they are supposed to. They sit glassy eyed staring at the treat, do what they need to, and down the food goes. This is not real learning, but instead more of an automated response. So, leave the treats for fun and not so important games, and allow both of you to concentrate on training without the distraction of food.

2010-04-14/Lance/0ec673

And finally, I would like to say right up front that I am not a professional trainer that does this for a living. I have trained many dogs, had dogs all my life, and have helped many others train their dogs, as well. My main emphasis will be on having a good relationship with our dogs - a well trained companion. My own dogs are off lead trained, but I do not show or compete with them, as I really am not concerned with awards, certifications, or ribbons - the greatest reward is enjoying spending your life with your buddy. Many people enjoy competitions, and a lot of the basic principles mentioned here can be used for advanced training. If this applies to you, go for it and have fun, with an emphasis on enjoying the competition for all involved, including the dogs.

 

Here is my very first trouble maker that I raised from a puppy, looking all so innocent - I didn't do it, really!  It was his toy, so not a problem, and the mess was easy to clean up.  Falco lived to be 17 years old, and trotted along with me even at 16. 

Related articles:
bad behavior, command, commands, companion, companions, dog, dogs, family, good behavior, instincts, motivation, obedience, obedient, pet, pets, proper care, relationship, reward, subordinate, training

About Lance Gardner
I have an interest in just about anything that gets me outside, as well as anything that is alive or grows, and in making things. So my hobbies include gardening, outdoors, photography, dogs, woodworking, and most importantly raising my son.

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