The Secret To Having A Well Behaved Dog

the-hairy-dog-mother 5 min read

The Secret To Having A Well Behaved Dog

The Hairy Dog Mother 5 min read
Kristina's Dogs Batuk and Xela
The secret to having a well behaved dog.
The secret to a well behaved dog.
I often get comments on how calm my dogs are. People are so impressed because this is apparently not something they see everyday.
It is not my dogs “personality” that makes them this way, it is the way I have shaped them by praising good behaviour and teaching them to make the right decisions. Think of it as teaching a child manners. Good parents that raise well behaved children are often fair but strict. They set up clear rules and boundaries with their children that they make sure are consistently followed. Dogs are no different.
The secret to a well behaved dog

Praise The Good

Many people forget to praise good behaviour when they are not in the middle of training. This because good behaviour would be your dog lying quietly by themselves, not attention seeking, not excited. Often times this behavior goes un-praised because it happens and we don’t notice.
If you think you have an over-excited dog, or a high energy level dog, this may not in fact be true. What may be happening, is you are unintentionally praising this excited state of mind, and so in turn, your dog begins to believe that an excited state of mind is what is wanted or liked by their humans, and so they present this behavior more.
Dogs will display certain behaviours because they have discovered that they get something out of it. We humans are always the one’s encouraging good and bad behaviours even if we don’t realize it.
The secret to a well behaved dog

Correct The Unwanted

This brings us to the extremely controversial and disputed topic of corrections in dog training. There are MANY opinions and theories out there on dog training, just like there are about raising children. But when we are talking about shaping behaviours you want, there is no doubt that praise is the way to go. When talking about stopping unwanted behaviours that have already developed, this is a little different than learning a new trick.
The secret to a well behaved dog

Quiz The secret to a well behaved dog

To help you decide what method you would most likely feel comfortable using in training your dog, take a look at this scenario and answer the question at the end:   You have a young child who is sitting with you and there is a hot cup of coffee on a coffee table. The child shows lots of interest and wants to play with the hot coffee.

What would you prefer to do?

A.) Distract the child by pulling out food or a toy and playing with them.
B.) Take this moment to teach the child that this is hot, and they should not touch it
C.) Do Nothing, and let the child learn on their own.

Which do you choose? Before reading on, write your answer down on a paper or in your phone. Why do you choose this option?  

If you choose A. Positive reinforcement only training is for you. But in my experience A essentially doesn’t teach them anything in the long run, and next time you aren’t in the room and that hot cup of coffee is there, the child will go for it again because they were not taught otherwise.  

If you choose B, balanced training is for you. But be sure that the “balanced trainer” you find also praises the good behaviour as well as corrects the unwanted. Personally I choose B. because I want to set my child/dog up for success, and teach them what is wrong and what is right, what is safe / unsafe, polite not polite etc.  

If you choose C, you choose not to get a trainer at all. C is too risky for me. I don’t want to risk 3rd degree burns just to teach the child a lesson.  

Dogs Are Incredibly Intelligent

Dogs are a heck of a lot smarter than even science can prove at the moment. So far, science has proven that dogs have a capacity of a 2 year old human child when it comes to learning human vocabulary, understanding how to decipher photograph’s and images of objects, and solving puzzles. So why wouldn’t you use this scenario above to choose the training method for your dog?  

But The Science Says…

Yes, the science says that when learning, dogs learn faster when food and praise is involved. Unfortunately studies have yet to be done on how to best deter or stop unwanted behaviours. Learning new tricks is different from curbing habits that have already been formed.  

Speaking Dog The secret to a well behaved dog

In my opinion, it is best to learn from dogs themselves when trying to communicate with them. Try to speak their language and teach them ours in return. We can learn so much form each-other.   

If you want to learn more about how dogs interact, think and learn, order a copy of The Social Dog: Behaviour and Cognition by Juliane Kaminski and Sarah Marshall-Pescini; one of the most recent collaboration of studies from all over the world on dog psychology and etiology. These researchers have watched dogs interact with each-other in the absence of human intervention in the outskirts of Rome, Italy and India where street dogs roam. It is incredibly ground breaking and insightful research that is debunking some old wives tales about dogs and how they think, learn and interact both with each other and humans.  

If you are interested in a great book that could give you a great head start on forming that special relationship of trust and better your communication with your dog, try reading Let Dogs Be Dogs by The Monks Of New Skete. The first time I read this book I was shocked at how similar their methods and philosophies were even though I had never heard of them before.

If you are interested in helping your dog become well behaved, happy and balanced, contact me to book a session.

To get more training tips, browse some of my other articles and videos below:

How To Effectively Use Stuffable Chew Toys (Video)

How To Exercise Your Dog During Confinement (Video)

Addressing Separation Anxiety During COVID-19 – Prevention & Tips (Video)

Leash Reactivity – A Contagious but Curable Disease

Recommended Reading List

Hey, I’m Kristina

Hey, I’m Kristina

I'm a certified professional dog trainer with a specialty in behavioural issues and rescue dogs. My methods are easy to follow, and are sure to help you and your pooch develop an even stronger bond.

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