“Wild Thing” – Is your dog being trained or are you?
by Katherine Durr
About two years ago a good friend of mine, Colleen, got a Golden Retriever puppy. It had been many years since she had a dog. Colleen named the puppy Lottie. From the day Lottie stepped paws into the house she knew she would have a good home. Lottie was a very smart puppy and learned to fetch almost immediately. She also learned other things, most importantly: she had complete run of the house. No area in Colleens house was off limits to Lottie. I think if there was any interest in the top of the refrigerator for Lottie she probably would be up there resting, trying to figure out how to get the refrigerator door open.
When you went to visit Colleen you had to brace yourself. Lottie would get excited and would jump all over you. She would then run on the furniture from one couch to a chair then to the table, back to the couch. Everyone referred to her as “wild thing”. Not only was Lottie’s tail a danger to small objects but her entire body became a weapon. Lottie would run into you, step on your feet, and in general just run amok.
Watching Colleen walk Lottie on her leash was a very comical scene. Actually it was Lottie who walked Colleen on her leash. Colleen weighs about 100 pounds and Lottie weighs about 75 pounds. Needless to say the extra pounds do nothing to help Colleen.
Lottie went everywhere with Colleen, except to other peoples homes. Not too many people welcomed Lottie into their homes and this frustrated Colleen. Colleen really tried to keep her under control but as soon as Lottie would give Colleen that sad look, Colleen would cave. She was a real push over.
One day Colleen was telling me that Lottie had to have ear cleaner put in her ears twice a day because of an ear infection. Colleen complained that it was very difficult to do. I asked Colleen to put some of the cleaner in Lotties ear so that I could see what difficulty she was having. Colleen reached for the ear cleaner and Lottie immediately looked for an escape route. Once caught, she rolled over and started using her paws to block Colleen’s attempts to get the cleaner into her ear. When this wouldn’t work, Lottie would turn her head away just as Colleen would get close with the ear cleaner. Although I found all this amusing I could see that Colleen was getting frustrated. Getting permission to help, first I made Lottie sit up and had Colleen keep her that way. Lottie really didn’t know what to expect from me since I had never required much from her. I cleaned her ears, told her how smart and brave she was, and sent her on her way. Colleen just looked at me with both confusion and annoyance asking, “Why won’t she act like that with me?” I told Colleen it was because Lottie knew what she could get away with when dealing with mom, which was just about everything. But Lottie didn’t know how to manipulate me yet.
Now Lottie is a little over two years old. I am happy to report that she has turned into a fairly well behaved dog. Lottie is welcome at my home. Lottie still knows how to work Colleen to get what she wants though. She applies this knowledge when needed.
Just like children, dogs need boundaries. If they are allowed to run amok . . . they will. We do not want our dog to go to the bathroom in our house so we teach him from the first day where he is suppost to go to the bathroom. This simple training technique should be applied to every thing you want to teach him.
1. Start from the first day:
Do not make the mistake of waiting until he is a little older to teach him. Start from day one.
2. Be vigilant:
You have to keep a close eye on him in the beginning. After your dog matures you can relax a bit. Be consistent with discipline. Don’t react one time and not the next. Once you have decided what you will not tolerate, follow through.
3. Get their attention:
I have heard of people taking a soda can and putting pennies in it. They then tape the opening closed and shake it to get their dogs attention. Clapping your hands or any loud noise also works. If you have a very shy dog then I would stick to using your voice.
4. The consequence for unacceptable behavior should be the same each time:
People say that dogs are a good judge of character. That they sense things people sometimes do not. When I was upset at my dog for something, let’s say he got into the trash. I would lecture him while I cleaned it up then I would put him outside for awhile. You can bet Thor knew that I was upset, that he felt my frustration and disappointment. He only wanted to please me so this would make him sad and he would sulk long after the lecture was over.
5. Emphasize and Praise good behavior:
This is so important for your dog. Really go crazy telling him how wonderful he is. Attention and praise are what your dog wants, so, give it to them as much as possible.
About the Author
Katherine Durr is a professional dog groomer and the author of “How to Groom your Mutt”. You can visit her website at: Doggie Dews