The Key to Dog Training

One of the biggest differences I notice been pet owners and dogs trainers is that dog trainers are proactive when working with their dogs while most dog owners are reactive. So for example on a walk a dog owner will react once their dog starts barking at something and try to make the situation better. A dog trainer on the other hand often notices the sitatuion is tricky for the dog and use management and training and prevent the dog from barking in the first place. This doesn’t mean dog trainers are perfect and their dog’s never bark but often you see less problem behaviors because the dog trainer avoids putting their dogs in situations they can’t handle.

How can you be more proactive

Being proactive is a skill we can learn and practice. My first dog Luna used to be very reactive on walks. She would bark at people and dogs. While taking her for walks I quickly learned dog body languge and how to predict when she was going to bark. When I would notice the body languge that happened before she would bark I could this wasn’t a great situation and I need to move away or use treats to distract her. I also learned the location of walks and activites going on there are important. So tight city streets are not ideal but wide open parks are great. But if there was a fair going on at the park then it might be too crazy but the a neighborhood early in the morning before people were heading to work was a good place to walk.

I didn’t magicly understand how to be proactive and I made a lot of mistakes and still do but I can learn from my past experinces and know for the future what will work better.

Pick a good enviorment

The places we choose to take our dogs or what is going on in the enviorment can play a significant role on our dogs’ behavior. If I take my dog to festival there are going to be a lot of people, distractions, loud noises, and maybe other dogs. Your dog will likely not listen, even to something as simple as sit. Going somewhere like a quiet park for a walk or training will make it much easier for the dog to listen and learn. If you want your dog to be able to handle busy enviorments you need to build up to it and train for it.

There are factors than just the location. Mnay locations change through out the day. If you are struggling on walks avoid walking during times when tons of people out, which is often in the morning before work or right after work. A park might be quiet around noon but then a kids baseball league happens in the evening. Picking the time of day and looking at what is going on there might be a desiding factor if you take your dog there.

Even in your own home there might be better rooms or times of day to work on training. If I try to train my dogs around the time my husband gets home and he arrives home in the middle of a training session, all the dogs tend to get excited and loose focus on what I was working on. If I try to train in my yard while my neighbor’s dogs are out and barking at us, we might struggle with some basic skills.

When possible find a good environment for your dog’s skill level and if it is too difficult try somewhere else or at a different time.

Learn from past experinces

Whenever my dog does something inapproprate I can make a mental note that this is something I need to watch out for in the future. If I pay attention to the enviroment and what led up to it I can often prevent it in the future.

For example, if my dog steals food off the counters when I leave the room, I will know for the future don’t leave him alone in the kitchen while there is food on the counter. Next time I am cooking and I need to leave, I might cover things up with a lid or put it away or call my dog to come with me so I can watch them.

We want to prevent our dogs from rehearsing bad behaviors so they don’t form bad habits.

Start training out of the sitaution and not in it

Often when trying to train our dogs not to do problem behaviors we try to train in the situation they do the bad behavior. For example, if my dog jumps up on guests that come to my house, I am not going to start training when guests come over. I am going to start teaching them skills when we are alone at the house. People coming over is very exciting and if they don’t know the skills really well already they are going to not be in a good mental state to learn. It would be like trying to bring children to a theme park and trying to teach them math. There is a reason we start learning skills in quiet boring places.

Start training skills for walks at home. Start training skills for the dog park at home. Start training skills for people visiting your house before people come over to your house.

Read your dog’s body language

Dogs mainly communicate with their body language and not their voice. If you can understand what they are saying you can often know if they are stressed or about to doing something I don’t like. If I am training with my dog and they are showing stress signals then I know something is going wrong. Barking and growling often happen if our dog is stressed. If you noticed the signals of your dog starting to get stressed you can do something before they start barking and growling.

Take a break from your dog if they are stressing you out

If you are in a bad mood, you can’t be your kindest self. If you are getting frustrated by your dog or maybe just something else in your life and you can’t handle working with your dog at this moment then take a break and give yourself time to decompress. In the furture try to give your self breaks from your pup before you are on your last straw so you aren’t emotionally depleated while dealing with problem behaviors. Ask for help if you need if from other family members or dog walkers or dog trainers.

Set your dog up for Success

We want to be proactive by setting our dogs up for success. They will learn the best if they are in a enviroment for their skill level and if we don’t push them too quickly. If things aren’t going well and your dog is making a lot of mistakes then we need to change something so they aren’t. My dog will make a mistake and I will make a mistake every once in a while and that is normal. If you dog is really stuggling though and making mistake after mistake they don’t know the skill as well as your though or the enviroment is too difficult. Take a step back and try to make things easier.

Being proactive is a skills. Start praciting today and if you need help always reach out to a trainer.

We offer private lessons to help with problem behaviors. Reach out today for more help

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