Relationship is the cornerstone of dog training. Many trainers talk about but not a lot of them actually explain it properly. It took me a long time to fully understand the impact the way we live with our dog has on their behaviour and well-being.
Blake Rodriguez is one of the trainers who explains it really well. If you don't know him yet, look him up! His content on Consider the Dog is awesome. This blog is some of my learnings from his work published on Consider the Dog.
Your relationship with your dog consists out of a few components.
1. Make them aware that their choices matter. They need to realise that there are consequences for certain behaviours. Some dogs struggle in the house because whatever they do, they still get rewarded! They can wreck your whole home, and still get pats, treats and all the attention. For there to be positives, there also have to be negatives!
2. Your dog needs an outlet. They need to exercise. And the type of exercise matters. Don't just take your dog running every day and expect them to become calmer. All your doing is building an athlete. Not giving them ANY exercise, just creates pent up energy that's going to come out as destructiveness most of the time.
3. Some behaviours are only suitable in a certain context. Certain behaviours are alright but not in some situations. There is a time and place for certain activities and behaviours. Many dogs problem is that they don't know when a certain behaviour is inappropriate. For example: playing a game of tag inside a classroom. The game itself is great, but not when the teacher is teaching! They need to learn that some behaviours will have to wait (you can't chase a ball when at a cafe).
4. Clear Communication is where a lot of things can go wrong and why training isn't working.
There are 2 things you will need to communicate with your dog.
A. How to get more (reinforce). If you like it and you want to see more of it ENCOURAGE IT. You can NOT encourage bad behaviours away, because 'encourage' means you will get more of it.
B. How to get less (punish). The things you don't like and you want to see less of DISCOURAGE. Did you discourage the dog enough? If the answer is no, you didn't punish it.
Why is your dog not listening to you? There are 2 possible reasons.
1. He doesn't understand you, your communication is unclear.
2. He doesn't take you seriously. Which means you have a status/relationship issue.
It's heavily influenced by how we live with the dog. We need to look at this from the dog's point of view, not the human's point of view.
Are you relevant to your dog?
How do you work on the right mindset with your dog? How do you ensure you are relevant and that your dog does take you seriously?
There are 2 things that help.
Space equals respect and space allows us to put status in place. You can be friends with your dog, but you're not equals! They are not your child or baby.
We need to teach the dog that they have to be respectful of your space. They can enter your space but they have to adhere to certain rules. YOU set the boundaries and don't let yourself be walked all over.
Blake Rodriguez draws a brilliant comparison that had my mind blown.
Look at the office. With your colleagues, you might play around. Enter their space without asking, borrowing a pen, leaning over to check out their screen. You're equals.
But you'd never do that to your manager or CEO. In fact, your manager most likely has an office. And you knock on the door before you go in and ask if he's got a minute. And you wait until he's ready or asks you to sit down. You don't just barge in, and go sit behind his desk and look at his computer. If you did, what would follow? A warning? Would you be sent out? If you have a shit boss you might even get fired! (= Punishment = Discouraging behaviour!)
We need to do the same with our dogs. You're not colleagues. You're your dog's owner. You feed him, care for him, protect him. You're not equals. You are your dog's manager. You can love each other, but when it comes to it.. you're the boss! If they don't listen to you, they don't trust you to take the right decision. Once you get to that stage that your dog doesn't believe in your status.. it's going to be hard work to fix that relationship.
If you think we're wrong, have a look at dogs interacting with each other. You'll see that dogs set their own boundaries. No, I don't want to play with this dog at the moment. Or, yes I do want to interact with you but you have to follow these rules.
If you don't claim the space, the dog will do it.
Using spacial pressure and tools (such as a leash) gives you the opportunity to create movement. You can move the dog away from a situation or you can move them by walking into them and reclaiming a spcae.
Watch: https://www.considerthedog.com/programs/thats-not-a-breed-issue (will need membership to watch)