The Spoiled dog, and Why Obedience Training Works


I had started to write about  how to find a facility:  dog groomer, dog day care, or kennel, or even  someone who boards & cares for dogs in their home, but I  immediately realized the problem many people have, which they tend to discount. That problem is….their dog is spoiled.

I know how easy it is to spoil a dog.  I  have spoiled a few.  In my quest to understand why my dog was unhappy (I can read body language and  can tell when a dog  wants something ) I have indulged bad behavior.  I have also trained/behavior shaped many dogs.  One of my clients said a very important thing to me which I have never forgotten. She had 2 large dogs, and had acquired a toy breed. She said, “Do not allow behavior in a small dog that you would not allow in a large dog.”  No kidding.  Most owners would not allow a large dog to bark incessantly and demand being held or picked up, or annoy the neighbors. Most would not allow a large dog to lunge at other dogs.  Yet they seem to find  ratty behavior cute in a small dog.

I  have worked in several facilities that offer dog daycare.  These days, the French Bulldogs & the Bostons are worse trouble makers in  og packs than Pit Bulls,. I am speaking in generalities, but it is a fact that they are always harassing other dogs. They might want to play, but they are not acting playful…they are acting aggressive.

That is a problem.

Another problem is the dog who refuses to be confined. Fact—dogs are den animals. They are born seeking places that are confined to sleep. This is the value of a dog crate.  Yet, people, being anthropomorphic and assigning human emotions to their dogs—-purposely break this instinctive behavior.  Some dogs, when they move to a new home, and have gotten used to being cuddled, will whine when they are confined. What do owners do? They don’t want their little precious to suffer…so they reward bad behavior by taking the dog out of the crate and cuddling the dog. Thus the dog learns to not find his own comfort in his own place.  Then, the dog gets frantic if confined at a groomer’s or in a kennel. &, it seems not to matter how large the crate is.  If the dog can see barriers beyond the crate, he wants to be loose wandering the perimeter.   The thing is…the dog never relaxes.  He paces until he becomes exhausted & passes out. This is not healthy.

I tell my clients to think this through:  if their dog ever has to be confined for a medical reason, the dog will be so stressed out it will never heal. What kind of favor are you doing your dog when you don’t recognize this?

There is a TV show that plays in America called Supernanny.  It is about families who have way too many children to manage. They indulge the children—spoil them  —let them get out of control, and they then need an outsider to insist THEY—the parents—-follow through on discipline.  &, indeed, half the show is showing how long it takes the parents to follow through.  People make excuses for why they do not follow through.

So, let me put it to you in a way that will seem harsh, but  check it out:  spoiling does not mean pampering .  It means wrecking. It means breaking. It means destroying.  It is not cute. It is dangerous.

If you want to  change the dynamic, and  allow your dog to be comfortable, calm, and  not get stressed, you are going to start on the sit/stay, and  first work up to  30 seconds, then, 1 minute, them 3 minutes….and you are going to be at least 6 feet away from the dog, and work up to  being 20 feet away from the dog.  Then,  you are going to work on a

down/stay,  start for 30 seconds, & work up to 5 minutes, standing farther and farther away from your dog.  Every time the dog breaks the sit or stay, you must stqrt over, and if your dog can’t do  30 seconds, you have to keep at it  until he can, before moving on.

Why does this work with the spoiled dog that has separation anxiety?  He has to concentrate —first—on not moving, and gradually he sees he won’t  die  if he isn’t flued to you, and can  handle  being alone….because ultimately, you are goi9ng to work on leaving him in a down stay for  5 minutes and leave the room.

How long will it take?  Believe me—the first 30 seconds are going to take a lot of repetitions.  You don’t see Justin Silver, who hosts  Dogs in the City doing all the repetitions, but it works.

Now, you can’t do just one thing. You have to get out of the mindset of  spoiling the dog, and into the mindset of being in charge and not indulging bad behavior. Good luck. Find a mentor who has successfully trained a dog!

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