By Karen A. Soukiasian
There is no magic to create an incredible bond with your dog.
You must remember though, they are not human. What they relate to is solely instinctive…reward or correction.
Dogs follow the strongest and most assured member of their pack. The three rules that make a respected leader are: being fair, firm and consistent. By following those three simple rules, all others in the pack recognize their place in the pack order; thus there is unquestionable compliance and the pack peacefully co-exists.
To have your dog willingly respect, trust and follow you, the most important training method you as a dog owner must learn is to establish your Alpha status by interacting in a positive manner with your pet. To do so, boundaries must be created and respected. If not respected, a correction is immediately and firmly made. Your dog soon learns there is a sense of security and a positive response from you, when they learn and respect your boundaries.
A few simple examples of firm boundaries with associated rewards are: Alpha eats first. You, as Alpha, set a boundary to eat undisturbed. You must not tolerate begging. Ignore begging, and your dog learns there is no reward for that behavior. However, as Alpha, it is your responsibility to provide food for your pack. Your dog associates by not bothering you when you eat, they too will be fed. Boundary respected…reward of being fed is received.
Furniture is another boundary. Alpha “owns” the best spots in their den. Only Alpha is allowed on the furniture. When your dog gets up on furniture, in their head, they have just elevated them-self in pack status. They are closer to eye level with you. You are no longer Alpha; you are now an equal. When your dog pays for the new couch or bed, then you will submit to them. Otherwise, keep them off the furniture.
Teach your dog to associate they gain your attention ONLY when they have all four paws on the floor and they are calm. Boundary respected…reward of being acknowledged is received.
Finally, long walks together. The boundary is that they are to walk next to you…NEVER in front of you. By allowing them to walk in front of you, you are sending your dog the message you will follow them. By setting the boundary they must walk next to you, they learn boundary respected…reward of a longer walk is received.
The most important rule is to be consistent. If you are not consistent, you only confuse your dog.
The first time you give your dog a treat from the table, let them up on the furniture or allow them to walk in front of you, YOU have broken the first two rules of being a respected Alpha. Being fair and firm. By you not being consistent, you have set them up for failure. It won’t take but that first slip, for your pet to figure if it worked this time, I’ll try it again. The bond is no longer there. Your dog no longer respects you because they are now in charge.
Modifying inappropriate behaviors is hard work and very expensive. It is much easier creating appropriate behaviors the first time around. Be patient. Sign up for a Puppy Kindergarten or Basic Obedience class. Ask around and find one that applies positive reinforcement, punishment-free training methods. Take the time to do it right.
Bottom line: Fair, firm and consistent works! Be generous with praise and rewards as well as interacting in a positive manner with your dog when their behavior is appropriate. Be immediate and consistent with fair and firm corrections. Follow these rules and you will create the bond with your dog that you seek and others will envy.
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