Having a good relationship with your dog is a crucial component to many happy years spent together and having lots of fun adventures. It is always a pleasure to see well connected, seemingly effortless dog/human interactions. What appears to be an easy task for one person can seem unachievable for others, but it was often brought about through hours of dedicated training and managing behaviours through appropriate responses.
Here are a few superbly common, but subtle training mistakes, preventing people and hounds from understanding each other and fully enjoying each other's company in harmony.
Giving commands without focus
If your pet's focus is elsewhere, there is no point in asking him to do anything. The chances are he will not even notice you are asking something of him. So teach your pet to pay attention when you say his/her name first.
My golden rule is: if I know that my dog is not likely going to obey a command (maybe because he is distracted) I will not ask it! However, if I do make a command, I will ensure it is performed correctly and I will voice the command (ideally) only once. It is important, therefore, for me to create the right conditions for my hound to succeed first time.
Correcting not praising
I have seen often that dogs receive lots of verbal attention when they are not doing things correctly, but are ignored when are doing things well. I always recommend to praise and acknowledge desirable behaviour throughout your training or walk so that your hound clearly understands when he is behaving well.
Dogs are very black and white in how they think and operate and need to understand clearly, what are your rules and what our words mean. WAIT needs to mean WAIT – always and not just sometimes, in order for dogs to make the connection between the word and the action. If you are inconsistent, the dog will be confused (and inconsistent also). If you want your dog to sit down patiently in front of the door before you go out for walk, then ask him to sit before your door every time and not just sometimes. With consistency your hound will soon understand what the rules are and will abide by them automatically, without you even needing to ask.
Not being the boss
By this, I don't mean behaving in a way that has been referred to in past as the Dominant Alpha pack leader but more in the sense of a leader who will make sure your dog is safe. Dogs needs to feel secure, it is important for their survival, so if you fail in that role, your dog will feel the need to take over as a way of staying safe. Your pet needs to be taught boundaries and good manners, not because it makes your life easier but because it will keep him feeling safe and happy.
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