We need to talk about the tradition of New Year’s Resolutions! Personally I’m not a fan but I will work at mindfulness, learning more and doing better. Whew! Now let’s imagine the list of resolutions our dogs might write for themselves.
1. I will eat less, exercise more.
2. I will beg less.
3. I will recognize the difference between furniture and fire hydrants.
4. I’ll come when called – the first time.
5. I won’t bite the vet anymore.
6. I won’t steal food as much.
7. I’ll introduce myself in more appropriate ways.
8. I’ll not pull on my leash.
9. I’ll bark at the mail/UPS/FedX man less.
10. I’ll tolerate those homemade bandannas more.
Perhaps your dog would have a need for a different behavior change. Let me know what those other needs might be. Obviously it is not enough to offer your dog a printed list of behaviors you think he needs to change. There is a human (that would be you) behavior that needs to change, as well. You have discovered that yelling “no” at the dog has not been particularly successful. In fact, yelling may only serve to reinforce bad behavior by creating a dog that learns to hide certain behaviors. In some cases we owners create the very behaviors we say we don’t want. Take begging for instance. We often give in to whining by tossing ‘just a bit’ of food in their direction. In most cases we have never taken the time to teach our dogs what appropriate behavior would look like. We think that a simple ‘no’ translates into, “Oh, I should do this instead.” That is simply not correct. ‘No’ doesn’t mean much to a dog. Over the next 10 days I will take each of these resolutions and suggest behaviors on our part that will change behavior in our animal. A perfect 2 for 1 kind of deal.
The suggestions that I will be giving you over the next few days are based on force-free techniques that are easy to use and have proven to be successful.
Thank you to PetPlace.com for several of the resolutions.