|Zoe & Phee wait politely at the gate.|
It's about good manners and safety.
I ask my dogs to wait and I walk through doorways and gates before them and if I don't walk through the door before them they need to at least be polite and not rush through or drag me out. It's not about being alpha. It's about teaching them impulse control and good manners. It's about safety. Rushing out the door can get a dog killed by a car. Rushing out the door can get someone knocked over and hurt. I also ask them to wait at the gate into the dog park until they are released and that's just reinforcing their good impulse control.
Happy National Train Your Dog Month everyone! I think it's pretty cool that there's a whole month dedicated to training your dog but really, training is for life. If you don't use it you lose it. We are constantly working on things.
One of the most important things to train a dog is impulse control. I talk about it all the time because it's so important. Dogs who don't know how to control themselves end up in the ER or dead.
|Phoenix waits at the door.|
We have a bunch of rules at our house and it's all to keep the dogs safe. I don't allow them in the kitchen while we are cooking, instead they can lie on the carpet near the kitchen and watch. I don't allow them to gobble up anything I drop, instead I ask them to wait and if it's safe I might release them to "get it". I actually had a client who's dog was hospitalized for a week after she dropped two Aleve pills and he ate them. He was lucky he didn't die. So things that are dropped are off limits unless I say it's okay to have it. I also don't allow them to eat things they find when we are out walking for the same reason.
|I wish I knew who drew this so I could give them credit!|
Again, it's not about being alpha or showing them who's the boss. The dominance theory has been debunked and we actually work together like a team. It's important that the girls have skills to keep them safe and good manners so they are not annoying to live with.
Whatever the dog does before she gets what she wants will be reinforced by getting what she wants. So if your dog rushes out the door and gets to go where she wants to go, that rushing out the door is reinforced and will be repeated. So if we teach our dog to sit and wait politely before we open the door and then she gets to go out, you are reinforcing her for sitting instead of rushing out. You are teaching the dog that by sitting and being patient she will get to go where she wants to go. The same thing goes for any behavior a dog will do. If the behavior is reinforced (by either you or just the dog getting what he wants) the behavior will be repeated. You are able to decide what is reinforced by training and management.
I do this with food and pretty much everything else. I've taught Kikopup's "No Mugging" and they are not allowed to just snatch or grab whatever they want. I also teach a solid "out" in case someone makes a mistake because let's face it. They are dogs and sometimes they do dumb things. I'm really happy to tell you that I've never had to induce vomiting with my dogs and we've never been to the vet because they ate something they shouldn't have. (Knock on wood!) I also keep my house really well managed and everything is kept out of reach and put away.
I also have rules for playing tug. The dogs are not allowed to take the toy until I say they can, they must not put their mouth on my hand and they must "out" when I ask. It's not about me being in charge or me being alpha. It's about me not getting my hand bitten off while we are playing. It's about being patient and polite. Sometimes they get to win the toy, sometimes I win but the game has to have rules. They understand the rules and they have a lot of fun playing.
Teaching a dog impulse control is not that difficult but it does take some time for them to get it. Pick a behavior you want to reward the dog for and wait for it. As soon as that behavior happens, they get the thing they want. You just have to be patient with the dog. If they are demand barking at you for something, wait them out. They can't bark forever. Barking does not get my dogs anywhere so it rarely happens around here unless I cue them to do it. If they are rushing out the door, put a leash on them and wait for them to sit or calm down. Then slowly, inch by inch open the door. If the dog breaks the sit, close the door. The dog does not get to go out until they can maintain that sit with the door wide open and you can walk out without them breaking the sit. (Sit, Stand, Down.. whatever you want the dog to do. It doesn't have to be sit.)
Being patient and staying consistent is very important. You have to decide what the rules are and make sure you follow through with them. It's all about the follow through. You can't just let the dog rush through the door one day and then the next they are not allowed to do it. It's the same with jumping up or snatching food, etc.
The girls are still dogs, they get to have fun and be dogs but because we have rules and because we do so much training they actually get more freedom than a lot of other dogs! You can achieve anything with your pups if you work hard enough for it!
Happy Training everyone!
Do you have any house rules for your dogs? Are you planning on teaching them anything new during National Train Your Dog Month? Tell me about it in the comments below! :D