Take the time to show it

By Scott Hunt

The Dog Grumbler

EVERY dog is an individual. The more dogs I meet, the more obvious this becomes.

Every dog/owner relationship is different too but when it comes to dog problems, there is much commonality.

The common complaints I hear are my dog wants to fight every dog it meets, my dog is afraid of every dog it meets, my dog always pulls too hard on the leash, and my dog won’t come when I call it.

Most of these things can be addressed with patience. They are not unusual.

The biggest obstacle to progress lies with owners who expect their dogs to understand human language.

Dogs have evolved to please us, to be perfect companions for us humans and to survive in our human world — but it’s our job to teach them the rules and simply telling them is not enough.

Here it is in a nutshell: they have to be shown. They have to be shown repeatedly.

Your dog is designed to watch you and learn your habits and rituals.

It starts this process on day one and learns these things whether you mean it to do so or not.

The things your dog knows best are the things you do the same way every time.

Just as they don’t understand human spoken language, we usually don’t understand dog language either.

We mistake normal, harmless dog interaction for aggression.

We mistake play for fighting. As I’ve said before, if there’s no blood, it’s just talk.

If your dog doesn’t seem to mix well with other dogs it’s because it wasn’t raised with the right guidance.

It wasn’t shown as a pup, preferably during its imprint period, how to interact with other dogs according to human rules.

It’s easy with a pup because we can physically dominate them – that is to say, we can control interactions with our superior size and strength.

We can gently but firmly show a pup that our will shall be done. Repeatedly.

We can show our dog that most of the people and dogs it meets are civil and friendly, we can visit neutral territory where other well-behaved dogs congregate.

We can walk our dogs with other well-trained dogs so they share smells and become friends.

It won’t happen overnight. It will only happen if we make it a repeated pattern in our lives, like the daily walk or the drive to the shop.

If two dogs don’t seem to get on, the best remedy is to make your displeasure known and walk them together.

Do it until they learn to get on. You will be shocked at how quickly this works.

If your dog won’t come when you call, stop leaving it out of your life.

If it thinks you will include it in whatever you do next, it won’t let you out of its sight for long.

The same goes for pulling on the leash. It wants to smell more things. You need to take it more places more often.

Being a dog trainer takes patience and faith. Your dog is a willing student but you must take the time to show it — consistently.

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About the Author: Hobart Observer

The Hobart Observer is your monthly community newspaper, reaching over 24,000 homes and businesses in and around the City of Hobart. It is the product of Nicolas Turner, Justine Brazil, Ben Hope, Simon Andrews, Tobias Hinds and guest contributors, with support from advertisers.

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