When people call me we often discuss their dog’s undesirable behaviours and it led me to think about the behaviours people engage in and how it may impact our dogs.
If dogs could call a human trainer here are a few things I think they may say.
My human ignores me when he gets home.
Dogs often simply need some acknowledgement and attention and they will settle down nicely. Dogs are social animals and they miss us when we are gone and it’s this reason they are happy to see us come home. Getting down low to your dog and spending some time interacting through a toy will reduce jumping behaviour and give you both an opportunity to share how much you have both missed one another.
My human keeps patting me on the top of my head.
Dogs do not like being patted on the top of their head. Dogs love to be massaged and scratched on the belly, chest and base of their tail. Get down low and encourage your dog to come to you for some of their favourite spot scratches and massages. Find your dog’s favourite spot to be touched and use this to reward behaviour and bond with him.
When I get close to my human at the park we always end up leaving.
If your dog comes close to you only once during the walk and this is the time he is put on lead to go home your dog will learn very quickly not to come near you at the park. Reward your dog by releasing him to go back and play when he comes close to you. Any behaviour your dog finds rewarding will be offered again. When it’s time to go home do not call your dog, approach him, clip the lead on and make your way home.
My human never walks with me at the park.
Keep moving while you are at the park so your dog can investigate the environment rather than practising hyperactive play with other dogs, jumping on people, humping, barking, digging and stealing behaviours. Dogs who are kept busy following moving people are far less likely to misbehave at the park.
My human wants to pat and cuddle me all the time.
Puppies especially do not have the patience for being cuddled and patted, they would usually always prefer to play. As your puppy gets older their tolerance for pats and cuddles improves. Dogs, at least early in life, do not understand the concept of cuddles, hugging, or chest to chest contact which is a primate/human behaviour. Teach your dog to enjoy cuddles by keeping cuddle time short and pairing cuddles with some food, over time you can teach your dog to (at least) tolerate cuddles.
I get punished for coming and sitting
What does your dog view as negative? Dogs usually prefer being off lead at the park so when you call your dog and ask him to sit before putting the lead on and taking them home you may have inadvertently punished your dog for coming and sitting. Instead, when your dog is close to you simply approach him and attach the lead without asking your dog to do anything for you. If you want to reward sit and other behaviours ask your dog to perform these before you let him off lead, use off lead freedom as a reward for behaviours you ask of your dog.
My human keeps taking my food away while I eat.
When you take your dogs’ food away while he is eating you are bothering him, if your dog is being bothered you are teaching him to mistrust you. In order to teach your dog to accept you being close to him while he eats add food to his bowl, your dog will LOVE you being close while he eats. This love is an insurance policy against food guarding.
My human walks too fast and I cannot stop and smell anything on walks.
Dogs love to sniff. When a dog investigates a smell he is using his brain, becoming more stimulated and will go home tired and satisfied. If you need to go on a fitness walk leave your dog at home.
I feel like I need to shout to get what I want.
Learn the subtle signs of stress such as yawns, tongue flicks, tight lips, stiff legs, stillness, staring, to help you recognise your dog needs a break and stop your dog having to increase the volume to growls, barks and bites.
I’m so bored!
Walk your dog every day and enrich his home environment so he is stimulated, happy and calm.