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Friday, May 25, 2012

Wolfie Just Doesn't Get It

Sometimes I think that Wolfie just doesn't get it.  I see all these other dogs sitting and coming and waiting and walking and doing a whole lot of other stuff.  I just can't get him to do it.  I don't think he is a dummy....

No, Wolfie isn't a dummy.  Robin and I have worked with over 1,700 dogs and have never found a dog that did not have the ability to learn.  The secret is that ALL dogs have the ability to learn, we just have to find out where they have the ability to start learning.

Some dogs are fast learners, some dogs are easily distracted, some dogs think they know it all, and others simply want to play.  We need to find out what level to begin training based on the Wolfie's current abilities and temperament.  Let me give you an example of trying to teach "come" to Wolfie.

I take Wolfie outside in the back yard and walk around for a bit until he is a good distance away.  He is sniffing the bushes and watching the ducks swim across the lake.  I call Wolfie, "Come Wolfie, come!".  He doesn't pay attention so I yell louder "Come Wolfie, come!".  (That always works, right?)  Guess what.  Wolfie still isn't paying me the least bit of attention.  In fact, he has now jumped in the lake and is swimming after the ducks.  I now get mad because Wolfie isn't coming.  

The problem with the above scenario is that Wolfie had way too many distractions to listen to our "lesson" and we had no way to show Wolfie what we wanted him to do.  So if Wolfie isn't coming when there are distractions and he is a long way from us, let's set the scene to eliminate the distractions and shorten the distance.

I have now gone back into the house and have returned with a six foot leash.  I clip the leash on Wolfie's collar and am now ready to start over.  Holding the leash in my hand, I kneel and tell Wolfie to "come".  He didn't, so I gave the leash a slight tug to show Wolfie what I wanted.  Now he came to me.  Good Wolfie!!!

All I did was to create an initial learning experience where Wolfie would have the clear ability to succeed.  He will eventually come to me from the other side of the yard (even with the ducks), but I needed to create a starting place from which to build.  For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The One Thing That Wolfie Wants

Wolfie is running and jumping and barking and not listening and, and, and...  Just what does he want?  I have tried everything and I just can't get him to be good.  Can it be that hard to have a good dog?

No.  (Don't you just hate answers like that?  Don't worry, I am not going to turn my back and walk away without an explanation...)

The one thing that dogs, and for that matter, we humans, want is to feel safe.  If all is right with the world and our future is secure, we are having a really great day.  Humans look at good health, financial stability, lasting relationships, etc. as a way to feel safe.  

Dogs feel safe when they are members of a strong pack.  The pack is kept strong because it is run by a strong canine alpha leader.  So what we must do is to be Wolfie's strong, canine alpha leader.  This sounds like it would be pretty easy except for the fact that we are humans.  We must change our perspective of the world from the way a human might act to the perspective of the world the way a dog might act.

There is one big rule that you must remember if you want Wolfie to view you as the canine alpha leader who has the ability to keep him safe.  You must constantly be reinforcing your leadership with him in a passive way that he naturally understands.  Here is what you do.

In a wolf pack in the wild, the only one that tells the rest of the pack what to do is the canine alpha leader.  The rest of the pack naturally submit and follow the leader.  This is what you have to do.  Everything you do with Wolfie must be on your terms.  If Wolfie comes over to you and puts his nose in your hand to pet him, you can not pet him.  If Wolfie gets his ball and comes over to you and gives you his big puppy eyes saying he wants to play ball, you can not play ball with him.

So, what do you do in these instances?  You simply ignore him for a moment until he turns away.  You can then call him over so YOU can pet him.  You can then call him over so YOU can play ball with him.  Remember, it always has to be on your terms.  It always has to be your idea.  You must be the one that starts, begins, commences.  This will maintain your role as the strong alpha leader.

Now that you are the strong alpha leader, Wolfie is on his way to providing you with the respect a canine alpha leader requires.  He is also on his way to feeling safe and happy.  And, that, is the one thing he wants and needs.

Now that you are the canine alpha leader, you need to guide Wolfie as to what is right and wrong.  That is where proper training comes into play.  Please check out more of this Blog for additional information or contact us for more information on our training programs.  For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Wolfie is Destroying the Bed in his Crate!

Wolfie is chewing up his bed in the crate at night or when I leave him to go out.   What can I do to stop this?  Those beds are expensive!

Notice how Wolfie is sitting in his crate all happy and nice?  We'll get to that in a second, but first...

Over the years I have been asked by clients how to get their dog to stop destroying the bed in their crate.  This normally happens when the client is asleep or away from the house.  The answer is quite simple.  Take the bed out of the dog's crate.  

We humans think like humans and believe that our dog must live in a human world.  At night, we get into our soft, fluffy bed and go to sleep.  When we are watching TV, we lay down on the sofa.  When we are outside, we find the lawn furniture and stretch out for a nap in the sun.  Now, let's look at Wolfie.  Wolfie sleeps on the tile floor in front of the TV.  He sleeps on the grass or on the rocks under the flowers outside.  Wolfie has no problem sleeping on hard surfaces and sometimes even prefers them to soft surfaces.

So when I tell you to take the bed out of Wolfie's crate if he is chewing it up, it is not punishment, simply removing an inappropriate distraction.  When we aren't there, there is now way we can correct Wolfie in the act of destroying the bed so there is no way we can effectively communicate to him that it is wrong.  All we are doing is to continue to replace the bed.  All Wolfie sees is that we are giving him more stuff to destroy.  

This is not a good thing.  Eventually, Wolfie will turn to our furniture and start to chew that up.  And, why not?  We have continued to tell him it is OK to chew up his bed and have even rewarded him by giving him a new one.  Wolfie will see no difference in chewing up the bed and destroying our two thousand dollar sofa.

Bottom line:  If Wolfie is destroying the bed in his crate, take it away.  For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.