4 Ways to Lose the Attitude and Gain Respect — On Both Ends of the Leash
1. Stop Labeling
It may make you feel better to pinpoint a word or phrase to describe why your dog behaves a certain way
● She is very “dominant”
● He is being “stubborn”
● She has “Attention-Deficit Disorder”
● He’s “too old” to learn or change
● “(Insert dog breed) can’t (insert behavior)”
Think about it: whether they are serious accusations or just running jokes, labels do absolutely NOTHING to change a dog’s behavior and nothing to change yours, either! Many people use these labels as excuses not to train their dog and accept things as they are. Naughty humans!
2. Get Yourself Organized
Think about how your dog if affected by his or her environment and your everyday lifestyle. You cannot be viewed as a “leader” by your dog if you experiencing issues in these areas of your life:
● Home and living spaces. If it’s dirty and/or disorganized (or it’s been in the middle of a remodel for too long) you may want to consider hiring a cleaner or professional organizer.
● Work. If constantly tired and/or stressed from work, make changes to your schedule to allow yourself more time to sleep, take a nap, walk the dog, visit a friend or go to a park. If you’re always run down, your dog will step up and decide what s/he wants to do on their own, independently from you.
3. Take Care of Yourself
If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of your dog very well, either.
● Health & well-being: Have someone help you with dog duties (especially exercise) until you are well enough to meet their needs again.
● Personal relationships: There are many ways to improve upon this area, but changing it for the better is entirely up to you! Once your human relationships are stable, you will be in the right state of mind to share a stable relationship with your dog, too!
4. Start Training!
If you are going to be a good leader, you need to learn how to be one.
● Learn how to communicate with your dog without using force or intimidation. If your dog is treated with respect, he will respect you! Once you define a clear line of communication with your dog, they will be not only able, but also a WILLING participant in your training lessons.
● Apply your new training skills and set up a new “exchange” with your dog. Many trainers refer to this as “Nothing in life is free,” or the NILIF method for short. Keep in mind that dogs do what they do simply because IT WORKS for them, regardless of how bad the deed. Barking, jumping up, stealing things, you name it, these behaviors all WORK to get something that they want. So, rather than reacting to your dog’s “bad” behaviors, be proactive: show your dog that ONLY when s/he performs good behaviors (sit, come, drop it, etc), do they earn all the things that s/he wants! It’s a formula that won’t fail: they do what we ask, they get what they want. You are the keeper of the treats (and toys, and leashes, and tummy rubs…) so don’t give them away for free! Soon your dog will realize that they must see YOU for all the best resources. Congratulations, now you’re leading your dog! And they’ll love you for it, too.
Post by Caitin Lane, BA,CPDT-KA, CGC Evaluator