We often get requests for addressing “that one thing” that they want to change about their dog. Sometimes it’s house breaking, other times it’s that pesky jumping on guests and everything in between, but the reality is that the root of those unwanted behaviors requires a bigger change than many people are prepared to make. Truth be told, if you are looking for a band-aid for that one issue, we would not be the trainer for you. Our goal is to address your underlying relationship with your dog which the misbehavior is a symptom of.
The bottom line question is, “Are you ready to commit to a lifestyle change to reset your relationship with your dog?”. If you want to be taken seriously, you need to become a leader who is worthy of being followed, and that is a much more complex task than teaching sit or stay. This type of change is more similar to the type of lifestyle change that people commit to when they get a personal trainer at the gym and a nutritionist. There isn’t a number of crunches that you will do in the gym that won’t get undone by the pizza you eat every night when you get home. It takes a ton of discipline and daily commitment to make yourself believable to your dog. Some of the toughest questions are:
- Are you emotionally prepared to see your dog work through their challenges? When presented accountability and follow through after a relationship lacking those things, dogs respond with fight, flight, avoidance, or acceptance. The last one is often a result of patience and consistency. Dog training like therapy in that the results can be beautiful but they often start with tears and frustration.
- Are you ready to reflect on your own efforts with honesty and accountability? Dog training is primarily built on patterns so a lack of follow-through and consistency are the biggest detriment to facilitating change. If you are a person who always feels like their is extenuating circumstances to the challenges in your life, consider this quote from Jim Rohn, “don’t wish things were easier, wish you were better”. There is always someone who came up with tougher circumstances than you and leveraged this mindset to create their own success.
What changes might you have to consider before you decide to train with The Knotty Dog. While every situation is different, here are some of the most common practices our clients implement.
- Your dog will wear a leash whenever they are awake and you are home with them
- Have structured meal time(this means no free feeding).
- Your dog will need to ask permission to access furniture.
- You will foster a relationship of calm with your dog rather than a relationship of excitement
- You will no longer repeat your commands once your dog knows a command.
Additionally, depending on your situation, you should be ready to:
- Have a ton of patience for your dog while they are learning.
- Be willing to provide them leash guidance when they are confused.
- Be willing to use tools like slip leads, prong collars, e-collars, and food responsibly.
- Lead your dog through life rather than follow them.
- Withhold undue affection or rewards.
- Make the time to practice active training (IE obedience training)
- Prioritize passive training whenever your dog is out of their crate (ie holding your dog to task on duration commands or following through any time you give a command even when it’s not convenient for you)
- Hold your dog to the standard you know they are capable of (picking your battles is not an option).
As your relationship with your dog shifts and your dog earns your trust with different environments and situations, you can start to play with each of these items to see what sets your dog back behaviorally and what is less important to their long term success. In general, less is more, but since our dogs behaviors are driven by patterns, setting yourself up with the best ability for follow through and repetition is critical for creating long term change.