Teaching Your Dog a Lesson – Revelstoke Review


Lynn Gagnon

Understanding Fido

On walks with my own dog, I sometimes see others with their dogs, and I’ve noticed an interesting human behavior worth discussing here: lecturing dogs.

Maybe you go for an off-leash walk with your dog and he goes ahead of you. You call them, they don’t answer and you get frustrated and go after them. Once you join them, you grab their collar, kneel down and start telling them how inappropriate their behavior was and how wrong it is to ignore you and pretend they don’t. not hear. This act for you is quite satisfying. You need to voice your grievance and you think your dog will definitely do better next time.

Or, another scenario I’ve seen many times, you stopped with your dog because another dog is coming your way. You lay on your side, sit them down, kneel beside them, hold the leash or collar, and spend the other dog’s time telling your dog how you expect it to be. behaves, stop trying to get up, listen to you and be calm.

So what’s the harm in lecturing your dog? It doesn’t have the desired effect. In the first scenario described, where you reprimand your dog for doing or not doing something you wanted him to do, you are either 1) losing your breath, 2) developing a negative association between you and your dog in the scenario, or 3) making it less likely that your dog will listen to you in the future. This is especially true if you lecture them after not coming when called. Your dog has now learned that when he comes back to you he gets a human who gets frustrated and completely stops having fun, so why would he come back in the future?

READ MORE: Discover Fido: skiing with your dog

For the second scenario, you are potentially subject to outcomes 1 and 2, and worse than those, you could create reactive behavior in your dog. Forcing a dog who may be anxious about other dogs to sit while other dogs are passing is asking him to pretend not to be anxious and to suppress that behavior. But that does nothing to solve the central problem, what they think of the other dog. Also, if your dog feels uncomfortable with your tone or actions, he may start associating other dogs with bad things. This is not how you want your dog to feel. If your dog is the opposite and just very excited by other dogs passing, asking him to sit and listen to you is likely to fail. If you overreact, you risk creating a dog that will also begin to associate other dogs with frustration and anxiety. A recipe for responsiveness.

So what can you do when your dog isn’t listening to you? Acknowledge that they aren’t well enough trained to perform this behavior in this environment with these distractions, or that they have the day off (dogs do too!). Behaviors like recall are rarely properly trained. Training a reliable recall requires checking it in all sorts of environments incrementally. It takes time and lots of repetition to develop strong, reliable recall.

If you want your dog to be calm while other dogs pass by, give him something that excites him and relates to you, like teaching him to focus on you for tasty treats. You will have a dog who has learned that checking in with you is fun, rewarding, and better than getting upset at every dog ​​he sees.

Do you have questions about your dog’s training or behavior? Send them to me at [email protected] and I’ll do my best to post the answers in this monthly column.

Lynn Gagnon is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer for Stoked Dogs. She has a BSoc.Sc. and CPDT-KA.

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