Having trained over 2,000 dogs, it has become quite clear to us that training your dog is a family event. To give you a quick example, when you were a child, what if your mother was the disciplinarian and tried to teach you right and wrong? When your father came home, he had nothing to do with you and could care less what you did or said. You would probably turn out as a "messed up" kid. The same can be said about the dog-human family dynamic.
Dogs crave consistency and rules. If one family member responds to Wolfie in a specific way, he expects that the next family member will also act in the same way. If they don't, it creates an inconsistent environment for the dog. This will result in the Wolfie's lack of focus or obedience to you or anyone in the family. In Wolfie's eyes, why should he listen, you are all nuts! The more the family is inconsistent, the more that Wolfie ignores and disobeys their wishes. Frustration among the family members mounts and could even escalate to harmful, physical acts or having Wolfie surrendered to the Dog Pound.
The bottom line is that this doesn't have to happen. Before you get a dog, have a family meeting to discuss the responsibilities the family is about to undertake. A few things you should include in your discussion are:
- Everyone must agree that they want a dog. (Wolfie can't be unwanted from the very first day!)
- Everyone will agree to the family rules between them and Wolfie. Items to include are:
- What rooms will Wolfie be allowed to enter?
- On or off the furniture?
- Jumping or not jumping?
- What kind of play in the house?
- Everyone will agree that they will be involved with Wolfie's training and socialization.
- Create a feeding, playing and walking schedule. Assign names!
- Discuss how you want Wolfie to act with anyone coming into the house.
- Talk about how these new responsibilities come at a cost. Some of your current "free time" will now become "Wolfie time".
- Discuss how you will resolve disagreements between family members when they are treating Wolfie differently.