Being a Leader For Your Dog
When you have a dog, they should see more than just a food/treat dispenser. There should be love, affection, trust, and respect between owner and dog, and a good owner must be willing to demonstrate leadership for their dog. People might confuse leadership with “dominance” or being “alpha” with the dog. Leadership is simply about leading your dog to success and better decision-making.
The best way to establish leadership is to offer the dog different choices.
My Richmond dog training is reward-based, which is about setting the dog up for success and showing the dog positive alternatives to their inappropriate behavior. It’s not about ignoring bad behavior, we work toward correcting and influencing the dog to behave better. It’s not about punishing the dog over and over, rather showing the dog that they don’t have to continue misbehaving. That the choice of better behavior leads to praise and reward for the dog.
Earlier today I worked with a dog named KC who was driving his owner crazy. There was a joke that KC’s “other name” was “No”. It might as well been, as KC’s destructive chewing of the furniture, scratching at the door, and wailing in the crate, was making his owner repeat “No” over and over again. While KC’s owner was trying his best to properly correct his dog, it wasn’t getting through, and all KC knew was punishment, not reward.
When we began training, KC was anxious and hyper, like usual. Once we got him under control, we made it a point to set KC up for success so that he could experience positivity and encouragement. We used basic skills and common commands, like “Sit”, that KC understood, and through this, he became more comfortable and calm. Of course, when KC acted out, we did not let it slide…we had to let him know it was wrong, otherwise he would never learn! But to bring a balance back and actually show KC the difference in his behaviors, we then offered some drills and exercises that set KC up for success and reward. As KC’s confidence grew, his owner felt more in control, and his guilt was starting to dissipate. This morning at our second lesson, there was a marked improvement in both KC and his owner. KC followed his owner’s lead, rather than aimlessly getting himself into trouble. His owner had a better handle on how to direct KC and show him the positives of good behavior.
Dog training isn’t about going to extreme domination or extreme coddling!
It’s about owners being a consistent leader so their dog can learn about boundaries, and how being a good behavior is fun and exciting! If your dog is lacking direction and you need a help regaining leadership and the trust between you and your dog, call us at 800-649-7297!